by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka could end up not playing any international cricket at all this year after Ministry of Health put up strict health guidelines for visiting teams to resume cricket. SLC was expected to host Bangladesh for three Test matches later next month and had identified Pallekele and SSC as the two venues as well for the games. However, the tourists have opposed the two week quarantine requirement demanded by the Health Ministry.
While Bangladesh Cricket Board had indicated that their players are willing to do seven days of quarantine, they have said no to two weeks of quarantine.
SLC officials were hopeful that the Health Ministry will be able to make some concessions. What they were looking at is to let players do one week of quarantine and then get them into a ‘bubble’ whereby they can do training and get ready for the series, a protocol followed in England when Australia, Pakistan and West Indies toured the country for bilateral cricket.
SLC was awaiting feedback from BCB and then will hold discussions with Health Ministry officials to draft safety guidelines more acceptable. Cricket officials, however, accepted the fact that when the government had done well in combating the pandemic, they had to respect the demands to keep the deadly decease at bay.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s tour of South Africa is also in jeopardy owing to different reasons. South Africa Olympic Committee has taken over functions of Cricket South Africa creating uncertainties. While SLC said that they were hopeful the tour would go ahead, sources privy to bilateral ties said that the series may be postponed as government intervention will get South Africa into troubles with ICC.
All in all there is a possibility that Sri Lanka will not play any international cricket for the rest of the year although SLC was desperate to resume bilateral cricket at the earliest.
So far, cricket tours by England, South Africa and India to the island have been postponed due to COVID-19. Bangladesh were set to tour in July but the series was pushed back to October. Sri Lanka was also scheduled to host the Asia Cup this year but that too has been indefinitely postponed.
The Lanka Premier League for which SLC has put in lot of effort is set to continue and SLC has announced that several international stars will take part in the event.
“Crysbro Next Champ” join forces with NOC to empower young athletes
Under the agreement, Crysbro will serve as the sponsor for 20 deserving athletes scouted by NOCSL, with potential to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games 2022, Asian Games 2022, Commonwealth Games 2022, and South Asian Games 2021.(Pic by Jude Denzil Pathiraja)
As part of its ongoing mission to empower and support the aspirations of young people in rural Sri Lanka, poultry producer Crysbro signed a landmark MOU with the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) to launch the ‘NOCSL-CRYSBRO Next Champ’ scholarship programme. The objective of this magnanimous partnership is to uplift talented young Sri Lankan athletes to the international sports arena.
Under the agreement, Crysbro will serve as the sponsor for 20 deserving athletes scouted by NOCSL, with potential to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games 2022, Asian Games 2022, Commonwealth Games 2022, and South Asian Games 2021.
Sri Lanka’s living athletic legend, Olympic medal winner, Susanthika Jayasinghe praised the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka for joining hands with Crysbro in this multimillion rupee sponsorship to empower and support deserving athletes from Sri Lanka’s rural settings.
“We are extremely honoured to join forces with the National Olympic Committee to unearth and groom the future torch bearers of Sri Lankan sports. While it is certainly rewarding to help these young athletes realize their aspirations of winning a medal at these games, our primary focus will be on supporting the journey, the strategy, and the holistic development of each athlete which involves a combination of physical, mental, and psychological training. However, at the core of this initiative, is a deep desire to elevate the experiences of many resilient Sri Lankan athletes in rural areas with big dreams but with very little financial backing to make them a reality,” Crysbro Senior Marketing Manager Amores Sellar said.
In addition, this partnership will see the launch of an online portal, which for the very first time in Sri Lanka will enable members of the public to financially sponsor rural athletes, school sports associations, and sports clubs and chambers. All funds collected through this portal will be fully disbursed to the entities they were contributed, a process carefully overlooked and strictly managed by NOCSL.
The scholarships will cover costs such as nutrition, transportation costs, coaching fees, accommodation, logistics such as clothing, sports gear, and medical expenses necessary for the training, grooming and development of each selected athlete. The programme will also give athletes access to a combination of high-value tools and world-class mentors, including foreign training exposures.
“Our partnership with Crysbro offers a unique opportunity for home grown athletes to succeed in the global arena. Over the course of two years, they will have access to numerous tools that will assuage the challenges they may face due to inherent financial and situational constraints, and flourish in a sustainable support system that identifies, nurtures, and maximizes their potential. We are excited to kick off this venture as one which would undoubtedly contribute greatly to furthering the Nation’s agenda for sports,” stated National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka, Secretary General, Maxwell De Silva.
The ‘NOCSL-CRYSBRO Next Champ’ scholarship programme is phase-II of Crysbro’s ‘Next Champ’ scholarship programme, which up to date has groomed and supported the dreams of 120 young athletes from the under-privileged regions of the country. The initiative has also successfully produced a collection of athletes who secured gold and silver medals at the recent South Asian Games in Nepal.
Crysbro Next Champ not only recognizes and rewards young sporting talent from all corners of the country, but also budding athletes from multiple sporting disciplines with guidance from experts on aspects such as proper training methods and a suitable diet. The project’s founding vision sought to bolster Crysbro’s already significant social contribution as a key pillar of the country’s rural economy plus creating sporting opportunities and promoting the message of staying physically and mentally active.
Dean Jones – Sri Lanka’s friend indeed
by Rex Clementine
The Aussies were in Galle for the first Test of the series in 2004 and Dean Jones joked in commentary. He said that it took him less than four hours from Singapore to Katunayake but five hours to get to Galle from Katunayake! He was driving home some pertinent points. Travel in Sri Lanka before the highway days was a nightmare. Sri Lanka Cricket did not raise objections with the television company that employed Jones nor did the Sports Ministry. His criticism was well taken by all and sundry. Jones didn’t mince any words. He was a bold critic. As The Island’s former Editor Mr. Gamini Weerakoon used to say, ‘A good journalist works with his resignation letter in the pocket.’
Jones was a huge fan of Sri Lanka. After the death of Tony Greig, he was an ideal ambassador to promote tourism and he did a splendid job. Some of his best moments in commentary came in Sri Lanka.
He earned the nickname of ‘Professor Deano’ for the pre-match show that he did during a triangular series in Dambulla. Jones was dressed as a Professor giving the pitch report and supporting him was up and coming actress Anarkali Akarsha, just 18-years-old. The show was a hit and fans took an immediate liking to both the ex-cricketer and budding actresses.
Not that his career was entirely smooth. During a Test match at P. Sara Oval in 2006, Ten Sports fired him while the day’s play was in progress for calling Hashim Amla a ‘terrorist’. Jones was off air but the microphone in the studio had picked his remark. He apologized immediately and was reinstated a few months later.
The fact that he was shortlisted to take over from Graham Ford in 2017 as the national cricket team’s Head Coach was a poorly kept secret by Sri Lanka Cricket. The Island asked him what would be the first thing he would do if he got the job. Jones said, ‘ban f***ing football during training.’ The Sri Lankan cricket team’s obsession to engage in a game of football as warm-up before a day’s play and training was frowned upon by many given the high number of injuries it was causing.
Jones was a fine batsman and in his generation only Viv Richards played one-day cricket better. A smart thinker of the game, it was Jones’ bright idea to run the extra run on the throw in the vast Australian grounds. He earned a reputation as an excellent runner between the wickets and when asked what was his secret, he replied, ‘just common sense.’ Soon, others followed the extra run on the throw theory while playing in Australia and it paid rich dividends.
His finest hour in the sport came in Test cricket though during the tied Madras Test in 1986. Jones made a double hundred and the scorching heat took a toll on him. He was vomiting and feeling uneasy but did not throw it away. At the end of his 210, Jones was hospitalized. Coach Bob Simpson said that it was the greatest innings played for Australia. His final Test match was played in Moratuwa in 1992.
Jones was in Bombay doing studio shows for host broadcaster on IPL games. The Island learns that he had gone for a run in the morning and was with former fast bowler Brett Lee when he suffered a severe heart attack in the seven star hotel lobby at lunch time. Lee desperately tried to save him with CPR after Jones collapsed but for no avail.
He was 59
Medal prospect Tharushi laments absence of coach Susantha at Walala
Olympic Committee announces sponsorships for future prospects
by Reemus Fernando
Ratnayake Central Walala athlete Tharushi Karunaratne said that the absence of reputed coach Susantha Fernando at the premier Sports School has made her train by herself. She said that she was following Fernando’s schedules in his absence in reply to a query by The Island at a function organized by the National Olympic Committee to announce Crysbro Next Champ sponsorships for up and coming athletes at the Foundation Institute on Thursday.
Fernando gave up on training at Ratnayake Central after completing more than two decades of committed service a couple of months back. During his tenure Fernando guided many a school athlete to reach international level.
Incidentally, Tharushi’s brother Harsha too graduated under Fernando to win a silver at the Asian Youth Athletics Championship in Thailand in 2017. Officials of Ratnayake Central have been trying in vain during the last few months to obtain Fernando’s services again. In his absence training of Ratnayake Central athletes remain interrupted.
Tharushi produced several record breaking performances at Junior National competitions last year. Fernando had earmarked her as a junior international medal prospect. She had been rightly picked by a selecting committee inclusive of Olympic medalist Susanthika Jayasinghe, former sprinters Shehan Ambepitiya and Ineka Cooray and Olympian Reshika Udugampola for the Crysbro Next Champ sponsorship.
The Selection Committee tasked with selecting 20 athletes for the Crysbro sponsorship announced names of the first five chosen athletes yesterday. Sprinter Sithum Jayasundara who also hogged the limelight last year making a clean sweep of Under 16 sprint events is the other track and field athlete to have been picked for the lucrative sponsorship. Two young weight lifters, namely, W.DK. Kumara and R.S.R. Laksarani and gymnast Milka Gihani were the others named by the Committee.
Explaining the selection criteria Ambepitiya said the probable list of athletes had been forwarded by respective Sports Associations. Their performances had been analysed against the medal deciding performances at three last junior international competitions before picking them.
They are in the process of finalizing the next five athletes. Their names will be announced shortly.
The next ten athletes will be selected after various sports associations conclude their national level competitions.
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