by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka Cricket has roped in Grant Luden to their coaching staff ahead of the two Test series against England. South African Luden has worked with several international teams and will function as SLC’s trainer. SLC sources said that Luden was set to join in November last year, but his recruitment was delayed due to the pandemic.
Luden entered the Sri Lankan team’s bubble in South Africa and arrived in the island in the chartered flight that carried the Sri Lankan team and he is at present in Galle with the team.
Luden is credited for raising Pakistan’s fielding standards as they went onto win the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017. During his time in Pakistan, he doubled up as Fielding and Conditioning Coach working alongside current Head Coach Mickey Arthur.
SLC sources said that Luden’s ‘tough guy’ reputation was one main reason for them to hire him. There have been question marks about Sri Lankan cricketers’ fitness standards in the last five years. The issue came to the attention of the Sports Ministry as well in 2017. Guidelines were issued by the Ministry to the national selection panel indicating minimum fitness standards for selection. This resulted in a run-in between then Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara and Lasith Malinga.
Sri Lanka are staying in the posh Le Grand in Galle where a room costs more than Rs. 40,000 per night. The hotel is a stone’s throw away from the Galle International Stadium. England are a bit further away at the more spacious Light House, where they stayed during their visits to Galle since 2001.
Sri Lanka’s training session was cancelled yesterday as it rained the whole day in Galle. The team was forced to stay indoors. England, who spent their quarantine and early training in Hambantota, reached Galle on Saturday. They had a day off yesterday.
Meanwhile SLC has allowed players families to enter the bubble. Some players have been away from their families since early December when they entered into a bubble for the LPL and then travelled to South Africa for the two Test series.
The opening Test match between the teams will get underway on the 14th of January. Both Tests will be played in Galle. Sri Lanka will travel to West Indies soon after the England series and on return will host Bangladesh. All the postponed series of last year due to the pandemic will be played this year.
Joes stun Richmond, Mahanama sail through
by Reemus Fernando
St. Joseph’s registered a stunning 128 runs win over league stage group champions Richmond and Mahanama beat St. Anthony’s Katugastota by 38 runs as the two teams completed the semi-final line up of the Under-19 Division I Tier ‘A’ tournament on Tuesday.
Dunith Wellalage top scored with 61 runs for St. Joseph’s before taking two wickets as the Joes ended Richmond’s unbeaten run restricting them to 100 runs. Incidentally, Richmond had recorded five wins in a row during the league stage and were the champions in group ‘Z’. St. Joseph’s were the third placed team in group ‘Y’ having scored three wins in five outings.
Mahanama lived up to their reputation as one of the favourites for the title as they knocked out the team from Kandy. Sampath Nissanka took four wickets to contain St. Anthony’s to 116 runs.
Now Mahanama will meet Royal in the semi-final, while St. Joseph’s take on Trinity.
Meanwhile in a Division II Tier ‘A’ quarter-final match Royal College, Panadura registered a two wickets win over Bandaranaike College, Gampaha.
Division I Tier A
St. Joseph’s beat Richmond at DSS ground
228 for 9 in 50 overs (Sadeesh Jayawardena 29, Sheran Fonseka 54, Dunith Wellalage 61, Hirun Matheesha 21n.o.; Amshi de Silva 2/46, Kavindu Nirmana 4/39)
100 all out in 29.3 overs (Hansamana de Silva 33, Amshi de Silva 25; Deshan Seneviratne 2/22, Shenuka de Silva 3/27, Dunith Wellalage 2/22, Shevon Daniel 2/00)
Mahanama beat St. Anthony’s at Kurunegala
154 all out in 46.4 overs (Savindu Kavinda 22, Sachira Weliwatte 50, Dhanaja Sadalidu 27, Achintha Supun 24; Chamindu Wickramasinghe 2/21, Divyesh Ramaiya 3/19, Tharindu Lamahewage 2/37)
116 all out in 44.4 overs (Anjala Bandara 44; Sampath Nissanka 4/36, Sethum Kenula 2/22, Sadishan Chamodya 2/22)
Division II Tier ‘B’
Royal beat Bandaranaike at Asgiriya
113 all out in 32.3 overs (S. D. Saranga 21, Rusith Kavishka 27; Himesh Fernando 2/15, Hasantha Warunajith 4/28, Milinda Sanjaya 3/26)
116 for 8 in 30.3 overs (Jayod Silva 17; Kanishka Malinga 4/29, Kavishka Jayawardena 3/17)
Green top awaits Cobras
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Head Coach Mickey Arthur take a look at the pitch ahead of the first Test against Bangladesh at Pallekele that gets under way today. Fast bowlers are expected to make merry on a green top never seen before in Sri Lanka.
Rex Clementine at Pallekele
One of the best gifts a dad can give a child is a trip to Leisure World at Avissawella and similarly one of the best things that can happen to a Sri Lankan quick is to get a green top at home. That’s exactly what’s going to happen at Pallekele today.
Not too sure when was the last time on Sri Lankan soil so much grass had been left on a cricket pitch. For a few days Pallekele is going to look like Newlands in Cape Town.
The unlucky ones are Dilshan Madusanka and Asitha Fernando who will not get a chance to bowl here.
The new ball will be shared by Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Kumara with Vishwa Fernando providing variety with his left-arm seam.
A lot will be expected of Suranga Lakmal who was Player of the Series in the West Indies. Kumara will be a handful with his raw pace. But the real deal is Vishwa, whose clever tricks when conditions are helpful are a treat to watch.
Expect Angelo Mathews to do more bowling this series as well. Whether they will have a fifth seamer in Dasun Shanaka or opt for Wanindu Hasaranga at number seven remains to be seen.
With Mathews returning to the side, one of the batters will be left out from the side and whoever who gets the axe must consider himself very unlucky.
There is reason for Sri Lanka to change their strategy to pace based. Bangladesh’s strength is spin and the hosts don’t want to play into their hands. That’s exactly why the series is played in Kandy and not Galle.
Bangladesh will miss Shakib Al Hasan, their main match winner. They are also without their lead pacie – Mustafizur Rahman. Both are in India playing IPL.
The tourists are under pressure. They lost a home series to West Indies unexpectedly and were whitewashed in New Zealand losing all six white ball games. Their away record also nothing much to boast about having won just one Test match in the last four years – against Sri Lanka in 2017.
Lisal, Saajida win singles titles
Clay Courts National Tennis Championship
Number one ranked Lisal Goonetilleke bagged the Under-14 boys’ singles title, Saajida Razick claimed the Under-18 girls’ singles trophy as the Clay Courts National Tennis Championship continued at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Tuesday.
S. Thomas’ College player Goonetilleke scored a 6-1, 6-4 win against Methvan Wijemanne to win the Under-14 final.
Bishop’s College player Saajida Razick beat Hasali Gajaba 7-5, 6-4 to win the Under-18 girls’ title.
In the Under-14 girls doubles final, Inuki Jayaweera of Musaeus College and Melesha Randini of Ave Maria Convent, Negombo beat Akeesha Silva and Movindi Fernando to win the trophy.
Under 14 Boys’ Singles Final:
Lisal Goonetilleke beat Methvan Wijemanne 6-1, 6-4.
Under-18 Girls’ Singles Final:
Saajida Razick beat Hasali Gajaba 7-5, 6-4.
Under-14 Girl’s Doubles Final:
Inuki Jayaweera and Melesha Randini beat Akeesha Silva and Movindi Fernando 5-3, 4-2. (RF)
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