Niluka Karunaratne raises his hands in jubilation after defeating world number eight Kenichi Tago of Japan at the 2012 London Olympics. Sri Lanka Badminton says that Niluka Karunaratne is in contention to qualify and represent the country at the Tokyo Olympics. (File Pic RF)
All year long, most of the national athletes have been training without a goal in sight. As in most sports, Badminton too had its fair share of missed competitions, both local and international. A frustrating sojourn in fact for many players who remain frustrated with a cascade of cancelled tournaments all over the world. The Olympics now saved for August 2021 would rekindle some hope and for Sri Lanka Badminton (SLB), Niluka Karunaratne remains in contention to qualify and represent the country in Tokyo.
SLB has therefore taken the plunge and mooted the Lanka Shuttle Challenge 2020 (LSC 2020) for its National Pool, which will give it the opportunity to assess its key players. Fortunately, the Ministry of Sports & Ministry of Health has been most supportive, permitting SLB to conduct this tournament, though under strict health conditions. SLB has accordingly put together a robust protocol that will conform to MOH guidelines working closely with PHI’s in charge of the venues selected.
Thus, the LSC 2020 will serve-off from the 16 – 20 December at the SLB & MBA stadium courts with 06 Teams of 12 players each vying for recognition and handsome prizes. SLB has adopted a franchise model to add glamour and set the precedents for an annual event each year that will complement the Senior and Junior Nationals, which has also been postponed to early 2021; target February.
The 06 Teams listed above are led by senior champion players with the national pool players evenly distributed to create a fine balance of talent. Managers consisting of SLB VP’s are heading the teams with assigned coaches and chosen captains, all gearing for a high-powered competition over the week. The Karunaratne brothers, Niluka & Dinuka, along with Sachin Dias, Buwaneka Gunetileke, Thilini Hendehewa, Kavidi Sirimanage & Dilmi Dias are all in the fray!
Namal Rajapaksa, the Minister of Sports will be the Chief Guest at the Opening and Closing ceremonies including the Prize Distribution.
Rohan De Silva, the SLB President and Chairman of the McLarens Group in his inimitable way, has offered the funds to run the event with the Prize Money alone more than Rs.600, 000. All teams will receive an appearance fee while the winners start from Rs. 250,000 for the Champions.
Li Ning is the SLB Corporate as well as Title Sponsor of the LSC 2020 and will bring a largesse of prizes for outstanding performances. SLB NPTC Chairman Palitha Hettiarachchi heads the organizing committee while Ajith Wijayasinghe as Event Director and Sanjeewa Wijesekera as Tournament Referee supported by a host of SLB Ex Co veterans.
SLB believes in the adage, Serving for Success and this introductory League tournament will no doubt set the trend for heightened competition in the years to come!
ICC names all-woman panel of match officials for 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup
The upcoming women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa will have an all-woman line-up of match officials, in what will be a landmark first in the game.On Friday, the ICC announced the panel of three match referees and ten umpires, featuring officials from seven countries. The match referees are GS Lakshmi (India), Shandre Fritz (South Africa) and Michell Pereira (Sri Lanka). The on-field and TV umpires will be Sue Redfern (England), Eloise Sheridan (Australia), Claire Polosak (Australia), Jacqueline Williams (West Indies), Kim Cotton (new Zealand), Lauren Agenbag (South Africa), Anna Harris (England), Vrinda Rathi (India), N Janani (India) and Nimali Perera (Sri Lanka).
Selecting this panel was part of the governing body’s “strategic ambition of advancing the involvement and visibility of women in cricket,” an ICC statement said.
The panel will also have the most number of women umpires and match referees in a global ICC tournament, four more than the nine who are at the ongoing women’s Under-19 T20 World Cup.
“Women’s cricket has been growing rapidly in recent years and as part of that, we have been building the pathways to ensure more women have the opportunity to officiate at the highest level,” Wasim Khan, ICC’s general manager of cricket, said. “This announcement is a reflection of our intent in this space and just the start of our journey where men and women enjoy the same opportunities across our sport.
“We are committed to continuing to support our female match officials and provide opportunities to showcase their talents on the global stage. I wish them all the best for the tournament.”
The eighth edition of the women’s T20 World Cup begins with hosts South Africa facing Sri Lanka on February 10. Defending champions Australia are in Group A with Bangladesh, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Arica. Group B has England, India, Ireland, Pakistan and West Indies. The top two teams from each group will move into the semi-finals.The matches will be played in Cape Town, Gqeberha and Paarl with the final scheduled for February 26 at Newlands.
ACC to meet in Bahrain on Feb 4, call on Asia Cup expected
The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) will meet in Bahrain on February 4. A decision on the Asia Cup is expected at the much-awaited meeting where the representatives of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will be present. It could be a stormy affair in the Persian Gulf city of Bahrain, with the two boards having been at loggerheads.
The hosting right of the upcoming Asia Cup, which will be an ODI championship among the continental sides, has been a bone of contention, with the BCCI and the PCB being at odds over the venue. The August-September championship was allotted to the PCB but in view of political tension between India and Pakistan, the BCCI had declared that the Indian team will not be in a position to travel to Pakistan.
The BCCI’s refusal was initially escalated by former PCB chairman Ramiz Raja who threatened to boycott the World Cup in India later in the year. A similar stand seems to have also been taken by Najam Sethi, who succeeded Raja, but there seems little support from other ACC members to the PCB position.
The BCCI and the PCB sparred recently after Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary and ACC president, announced the schedule of the council. It was responded with sarcasm by Sethi who said in a social media post, “Thank you @JayShah for unilaterally presenting @ACCMedia1 structure & calendars 2023-24 especially relating to Asia Cup 2023 for which Pakistan is the event host. While you are at it, you might as well present structure & calendar of our PSL 2023! A swift response will be appreciated (sic).”
The PCB chairman’s comments were rejected by ACC which declared that Shah’s post was not unilateral. “It has come to our knowledge that PCB Chairman Mr Najam Sethi has made a comment on the ACC President unilaterally taking the decision on finalising the calendar and announcing the same. The ACC wants to clarify that it has followed well established and due process. The calendar was approved by its Development Committee and Finance & Marketing Committee in a meeting held on December 13th, 2022.
“The calendar was then communicated to all the participating members individually, including Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), via an email dated December 22nd, 2022. While responses were received from certain Member Boards, no comments or suggested modifications were received from PCB. In view of the above, Mr Sethi’s comments on a social media platform are baseless and are vehemently denied by the ACC,” the ACC said backing Shah’s position.
With the meeting in Bahrain happening in such a backdrop, it could be a stormy affair. A BCCI official, who was in Mumbai for the unveiling of Women’s Premier League teams, confirmed a final decision on the Asia Cup will be taken in Bahrain on February 4.
Brian Lara joins West Indies management as ‘performance mentor’
Cricket West Indies have roped in legendary batter Brian Lara as a ‘performance mentor’, who will work across formats with the international teams as well as with the academy. Lara will assist the various coaches with regard to “providing players with tactical advice and improving their game sense”. He will also work with Jimmy Adams, the Director of Cricket, on ICC World Cup tournament strategic planning.
“Having spent time with the players and coaches in Australia and in discussions with CWI, I really believe that I can help the players with their mental approach to the game and with their tactics to be more successful,” Lara said.
The 53-year-old Lara’s first assignment in the new role will be with the Test side on the tour of Zimbwbwe, where he has already joined the squad ahead of the first Test in Bulawayo on February 4. Lara will take a short break in the middle to discharge his duties as the head coach of the Sunrisers Hyderabad during IPL 2023.
Lara was recently appointed on a CWI review panel following their early exit at the 2022 T20 World Cup. They were subsequently swept 2-0 by Australia in a Test series and now seek a course-correction as they build towards this year’s 50-over World Cup in India.
“I am really looking forward to Brian making a significant contribution to our cricket system by providing invaluable guidance and advice to our players and coaches,” Adams said. “We are confident that Brian will help to improve our high-performance mindset and strategic culture that will bring us more success on the field across all formats. Everyone is excited to have Brian involved in supporting our players.”
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