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The Legend of Lucky Rogers

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by Rex Clementine

Quietly, sit next to a coach giving a pep talk to Under-13 cricketers before a game and you will be left with anger and bewilderment as you eavesdrop.  Coaches teach young kids some new tricks in the trade. ‘Appeal three times vociferously and there’s a good chance that you will get a decision in your favour that would have been otherwise given not out.’ That’s the current status of our school cricket. But then, there are also the rare coaches, the Lucky Rogers type. Here’s the Lucky Rogers story.

Ananda College had had a terrific season in 2009 having won 12 games. They were skippered by Dinesh Chandimal. The title was going to be decided in the crunch game between Ananda and Royal at Ananda Mawatha. Royal had KJP. Ananda were set to secure the title after being set a paltry target of 80. But cricket is a funny game. Ananda were shot out for 78. Ruchira Palliyaguru, currently an international umpire had given five leg before wicket decisions!

Well, the obvious choice is to nail the umpire. The term ‘umpire hora’ is common in our backyard. Five leg before wicket decisions in a crunch game! But Ananda boys played like gentlemen. Their coach Lucky Rogers had instilled in them that discipline and set the standards.

“To be honest, I expected a bit of bad blood. But to my surprise, every Ananda player walked up to me, shook hands and said ‘good game sir.’ Palliyaguru told The Island.  ‘Then followed Ananda coach Mr. Lucky Rogers. He shook my hands and said thank you. That’s all. What a gentlemen.’

You don’t get many gents like Lucky Rogers. Ajantha Mendis played little cricket at school and his talent was spotted by Lucky Rogers at an academy.  The rest they say is history as Mendis gave us some memorable moments running through India’s famed batting line up comprising Sehwag-Dravid-Sachin-Ganguly-Laxman.

The legend of Lucky Rogers is not associated with just coaching. He was a legend as a player too.

“I won the outstanding schoolboy cricketer of the year award (outstations) in the year 1988 and Lucky Rogers won  it after me in 1989,” said Sanath Jayasuriya speaking to The Island. Well, that sums up the story.

Here’s bit of stats to drill Lucky Rogers greatness. He hails from Moratuwa. The famed cricket pillars of Moratuwa are St. Sebastian’s’ and Prince of Wales. But there’s a third force. Quite formidable one too; Moratu Vidyalaya. Lucky Rogers captained them at under-13, 15,17 and 19 levels. In his last year, he finished off with 1493 runs, in just ten games with an highest score of 264 not out. If you know bit of school cricket, those are stunning numbers. Not even matched by The Greatest; P.A. de Silva. Nobody else reached 1000 runs that season. Lucky did it in seven games. Mind blowing stuff.

Lucky Rogers was not just a stylish top order batsman. He  was also a superb wicketkeeper. Highly rated by his contemporaries, hardly committing a blunder behind the stumps. When he opened batting, he  was a class act, with an array of attractive strokes.

“I captained Sri Lanka Under-19 team to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup. We lost the finals to India captained by Sourav Ganguly. Lucky Rogers was a key figure in that side as we performed consistently well.  When in the mood, Lucky could put best of bowling attacks to the sword,” recalled another Sri Lanka captain; Marvan Atapattu.

When Lucky Rogers got out of school, he was quite popular in the domestic circuit piling up runs for Moratuwa Sports Club. He made quite an impact as captain too as Moratuwa were promoted to Premier League from Sara Trophy. Lucky was  jack of all trade; team’s  leading batsman, wicketkeeper and skipper, who had the knack to make things happen, despite having limited bowling resources.

In 1990s, the wicket keeping gloves of the national cricket team exchanged hands between a few players; Gamini Wickramasinghe, Chamara Dunushinghe, Pubudu Dassanayake, Rumesh Kaluwitharana and Lanka de Silva. But Lucky Rogers never got a look in.

“Well, there were financial constraints facing my family and I decided to play league cricket in Australia so that I could earn a living by playing the sport and look after my family. I guess I missed out because of that,” Lucky Rogers told The Island.

Lucky represented North Cofield for seven seasons and won the Victorian Championships twice. He is hailed down under in cricket circles as much as here. Lucky credits the values he brought to the game thanks to the coaches he had; Mr. Bernard Perera, Mr. Chandana Mahesh and Mr. Manjula Peiris. It reiterates a very pertinent point, the need to have quality coaches at school level.

Lucky Rogers is an example that you don’t have to play for Sri Lanka to leave an indelible mark in the game. He championed the cause of not so fancy teams as a schoolboy and in domestic cricket and later on when he took to coaching he taught the players finer points of the game, but more importantly to play the game in the right spirit. Men like him are rare and need to be celebrated.



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Gateway felicitates coach for making Sri Lanka proud 

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Gateway’s top coaches Tharindu Fernando, Thilanka Jinadasa and Pradeep Nishantha are pictured here

Pradeep Nishantha, Assistant Head of Sports of Gateway College Colombo was felicitated by the school for his remarkable contribution in producing two medal winners at the recently concluded Paralympic Games in Japan.

The national anthem was played for the very first time at an Olympics when Dinesh Priyantha Herath who was trained by Pradeep Nishantha won a gold medal with a new world record. Pradeep has been employed at Gateway since 2005 and he has been responsible for producing many national athletes from Gateway.

Gateway students are blessed to be coached and guided by professionals of the highest caliber. Thilaka Jinadasa, the Team Leader – Sports development for the entire group represented Sri Lanka in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

Among Gateway’s team of coaches are a number of top Sri Lankan coaches. Tharindu Fernando, who was recently appointed National Basketball Coach for the Under 23 Sri Lankan side is among them.

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Dialog and SLC release T20 World Cup song ‘Ape Kollo’ 

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Amali Nanayakkara, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC hands over the first CD of the ‘Ape Kollo’ song to Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa, Vice President, SLC. Also in picture artistes and Dialog brand ambassadors who performed the ‘Ape Kollo’ song, (L-R) Madhuvy, Sanka Dineth, Sanuka, Sajitha, Santhush, Upul Nawaratne Bandara, Head of Marketing, SLC, Harsha Samaranayake, Senior General Manager, Brand and Media – Group Marketing, Dialog Axiata PLC, Bathiya, Umaria, Senali and guest performer, Roy. Absent - Yohan

The national cricket team’s sponsor and Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, Dialog Axiata, together with Sri Lanka Cricket, recently released ‘Ape Kollo’ the T20 World Cup song in support of the Team on their T20 World Cup campaign which will commence on the 18th of October 2021 in the United Arab Emirates.

The song will be sung by a stellar line-up of artistes and Dialog brand ambassadors including, Bathiya and Santhush, Umaria, Yohani, Sanka Dineth, Sajitha, Sanuka, Madhuvy and guest performer, Roy Jackson. With lyrics written by Triad, the Sri Lanka Cricket T20 World Cup song is an initiative powered by Dialog Axiata connecting the wishes of every Sri Lankan.

Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa, Vice President of Sri Lanka Cricket said, “I would like to thank Dialog Axiata for materializing the T20 World Cup song into existence. This tribute will be an immense morale boost for players and fans alike. The team over the past few months have been playing tourneys and trial games which have been instrumental in selecting the best combination for the T20 World Cup in UAE.”

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Sri Lanka will qualify, but can they reach semis?  

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by Rex Clementine

The cricket fans of Sri Lanka are truly amazing. They know pretty well that the chances of the team reaching the semi-finals in UAE is as low as that of Maithripala Sirisena winning a future Presidential election, but they keep believing that their team will deliver. It is only fair that the players come up with a decent show, unlike Maithripala.

If the IPL is any indication, there aren’t going to be too many high scoring games over the next four weeks and spin is going to play a huge part. That will certainly be a good indication for Sri Lanka’s bowlers.

Their batsmen, however, it remains to be seen what lessons they have learnt on sweeping. Grant Flower seemed to be having little tricks up his sleeve on the advantage of the sweep, both the conventional, paddle and reverse. Hopefully, now that Sri Lanka have a fine sweeper in their coaching staff in Mahela Jayawardene, the issue has been discussed at length.

Lack of smart options against spin has been one reason for Sri Lanka’s decline in the shorter formats of the game. Ours was a team where the sweep was the batsmen’s bread and butter and it’s quite perplexing how the current lot have forgotten to sweep and the coaching staff have failed to address the issue.

Avishka Fernando has been tremendous to watch. He has always been an exciting player and such a shame that he failed a fitness test in January and was banished from the team hotel. He was so close to making his Test debut against England and failing the fitness test was a bitter pill to swallow. But glad that the selectors and the coaching staff had the conviction to do it. They have spared the rod and spoilt too many young children. Avishka has bounced back; leaner, fitter, stronger and hungrier. IPL teams will be watching and the gut feeling is we are talking of a future billionaire in this space.

There is some school of thought that Avishka should bat at number four. He has come up with some consistent performances in that position this week. It’s true that he is Aravinda’s heir apparent, but Sri Lanka has to make the most of the Power Plays and Avishka should open batting with Kusal Perera to make most of the field restrictions. You sense that you have enough fire power in Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga and Chamika Karunaratne to take care of the death overs.

Oppositions will focus a lot on Hasaranga’s leg spin as he has had quite a bit of success in the lasts 12 months and ended up earning a contract in the IPL. World Cup is a superb occasion for him to stamp his authority as one of world’s leading wrist spinners.

Maheesh Theekshana, the new kid, has a bit of surprise element in him and could trouble teams that have not seen him much as he proved during his debut against Proteas last month. It will be interesting to see how teams that do not play spin that well handle him.

The last minute decision to include Akila Dananjaya while axing Praveena Jayawickrama hasn’t gone down too well with some supporters. But it’s a smart move. There’s no denying of the fact that Akila has looked a pale shadow of his former self since remodeling his action and in recent months has looked awful. But then, Sri Lanka have to qualify. The team is thin on experience after our selectors chased away half a dozen seniors and Akila has a surprise element about him and that could come in handy; particularly in the qualifying round.

The spin trio is not Sri Lanka’s only strength. Their main weapon is pace with Dushmantha Chameera picking up wickets with the new ball consistently and he will be their key weapon. Such a shame that the team will miss the services of Nuwan Pradeep, a clever bowler in death overs.

All hope is not lost for Sri Lanka though. One good thing is that they are not playing any Asian teams. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are all in Group ‘B’. Sri Lanka will have Australia, England, West Indies, South Africa and one more qualifier and if their spin fires, they could spring a few surprises. Can they go onto book a semi-final berth?

In T-20 cricket anything can happen. So don’t just rule out the Sri Lankan team. The same can be said of our voters. Don’t rule out Maithripala.

A land like no other!

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