The return of the prodigal son
Rex Clementine in Sydney
It’s unlikely that we will see another like Sanga in our lifetime. His was not a case of extraordinary talent, but an insane work ethic. There was this Test match at the Basin Reserve in New Zealand, where he fell for a low score. He didn’t walk back to the comforts of the dressing room. Instead, there was a sign for the coach to turn up at the practice nets and throw downs would go on till lunch time.
Fresh from a triple hundred in Bangladesh, the team landed in Colombo on a Saturday and Sanga was back in the nets at his beloved NCC on a Sunday. He was addicted to nets like some of us are for Harry J’s Extra Special.
His work ethic was insane. His captaincy was a nightmare for the press, because the press conferences never started on time. Nobody could fault him either as if it was a rule those days that Sanga had to come out of the nets last.
That insatiable appetite for success saw him reign as world’s number one ranked batsman for a couple of years and there were hundreds not only on the docile tracks of Asia but the quick ones in South Africa, seaming tracks of England and bouncy wickets of Australia. Moral of the story is if there’s a will, there’s a way. But, that doesn’t mean every good cricketer can end up as President of MCC.
Sanga may have the numbers but for sheer domination of attacks and treating them with scant respect, Aravinda gets the nod any day.
The fact that he was part of a side that was still finding its feet at the big stage and that he proved his worth from the little opportunities he had got make his feats truly remarkable.
As Aravinda’s dashing career that lasted for 19 years ended, Sanga took on the baton and had a tremendous run for a decade and a half. But since then, the team has struggled to find a mainstay in their batting; a man whom they can rely on to bail them out time and again.
In recent months, Kusal Mendis has shown signs of getting ready to fill those big boots. He is currently the second highest run getter in this World Cup and has a chance to finish top of the ladder with another good show in Sri Lanka’s last clash against England in Sydney.
After an impressive debut year in 2016, where his efforts enabled Sri Lanka to whitewash Aussies 3-0, Mendis never really got going. There were the occasional spark, like in Port Elizabeth, where he made Dale Steyn look a pale shadow of his former self, but consistency was lacking. Then off the field distractions saw him getting suspended. You aren’t sure whether he’s settled down as yet, but one thing is for sure, he has shown consistency and of course application. Here’s why.
It was a smart move by the selectors to hand him the keeping gloves. Firstly, it enabled them to balance the side by playing an additional bowler and secondly, Mendis took things up a bit more seriously. Not only did he have to keep wickets, he had to open batting as well and which meant that he had to work harder on his fitness. That he has done and his keeping has been flawless. Naturally, when you keep wickets, your eye is in and you have a feel as to how the ball behaves and that’s helped his batting too.
Mendis has been one hell of a talent and when he’s on song there aren’t many better scenes in cricket. His causal approach and soft dismissals have often infuriated fans. But he seems to have turned a corner. Those shoes of Sanga’s and Aravinda’s are too large to fill, but if there’s one who can at least give it a try, that’s got to be Mendis. When the prodigal son returns, you are reminded to welcome him with open arms for there’s no saint without a past and no sinner without a future.
Track and field action from Diyagama
The Track and Field season commenced with some of the best athletes in the senior and Under 20 age categories producing notable performances during the two-day Junior and Senior Selection Trial concluded at Diyagama on Tuesday. Here are some action pictures from the day two of the event.
(Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)
Dharshana’s false start dampen an otherwise remarkable day
by Reemus Fernando
Sprinter Aruna Dharshana gave athletics fans both joy and heartache on an otherwise remarkable day as the Junior and Senior Track and Field trials concluded with a number of athletes achieving their personal bests at Diyagama yesterday.
Athletics analysts were waiting for Dharshana to reach his personal best in the men’s 400 metres final after the Army athlete produced the best performance in the heats where as many as five athletes clocked sub 47 seconds. When Dharshana followed up his 200 metres winning time of 21.12 seconds with a feat of 46.43 seconds in the 400 metres many expected him to produce a sub 46 seconds performance in the final.
But the shocking foul start meant that he will have to wait for more than a month to test his true potential. Incidentally, Kalinga Kumarage, who was off-colour in the heats (47.51 secs – second in heat 3) won the final with a feat of 46.27 seconds. However, 100 metres sprinter Medhani Jayamanne who was disqualified for a foul start in the women’s 100 metres heats was not so unlucky, as athletics officials gave her an opportunity to compete in the women’s 100 metres final, though her place was (2nd) not recognised. She clocked 12.16 seconds in the final.
In Dharshana’s absence four others, namely, Kumarage, R.N. Rajakaruna, Dinuka Deshan and Pabasara Niku clocked sub 47 seconds.
In the corresponding women’s 400 metres, schoolgirl Tharushi Karunaratne continued to shock her senior counterparts. Having won the women’s 800 metres on day one, the Ratnayake Central prodigy also bagged the 400 metres victory as she clocked 53.41 seconds to beat Asian Championship participant Nadeesha Ramanayake.
In the men’s 100 metres Chamod Yodasinghe reached his personal best as he clocked 10.37 seconds to win the final.
In the women’s 100 metres final, Rumeshika Ratnayake clocked 12.01 seconds to win running against the wind (-2.9). In the heats, she clocked sub 12 seconds.
In the morning, Gayanthika Abeyratne finished the women’s 1500 metres just three seconds shy of her national record mark as she clocked 4:12.53 seconds to win closely followed by steeplechase national record holder Nilani Ratnayake. Abeyratne’s national record established last year stands at 4:09.12 seconds.
In the Under 20 age category events Malith Yasiru produced the second-best performance of the Asian region in the Under 20 boys’ triple jump this year when he cleared a distance of 15.43 metres to win the event.
Sri Lankan sailing teams compete in Pakistan
The Sri Lankan national team of two sailors and one windsurfer, with the Navy team of a sailor and a windsurfer, were invited to participate at the first Chief of Navy Staff International Sailing Regatta 2023 held from March 14 to 20 in Karachi, Pakistan. Twelve countries including Australia, Bahrain, Croatia, Egypt, China, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey had sent their teams to Karachi. The Sri Lankan national team consisted of Laser Standard sailor (ILCA 7) NGMU Ghanawardene, Sri Lanka Navy, Priyantha Gunawardene, Sri Lanka Navy participating in the Windsurfing RSX Class and Laser 4.7 (ILCA 4) sailor Tharen Nanayakkara. The Navy team consisted of Laser Standard sailor (ILCA 7) JMPL Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka Navy and WAS Weeratunge, Sri Lanka Navy participating in the Windsurfing RSX Class.
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