The talent is in outstations
Young spinners Praveen Jayawickrama and Ramesh Mendis shared 17 wickets between them to give Sri Lanka their first Test win in more than a year at Pallekele yesterday.
Rex Clementine at Pallekele
Sometimes you wonder whether Arjuna Ranatunga has lost it. Even now, he keeps saying that the talent is in outstation and it is where we should invest. He’s old fashioned, you think. But then, with performances like yesterday’s, the old fox is proved right, again.
It was two boys from outstations who spun Sri Lanka to their first Test win in 16 months.
Praveen Jayawickrama, a left-arm spinner is from Kalutara and Ramesh Mendis, an offie is from Ambalangoda. Together they took 17 wickets in the game to give Sri Lanka a 209 run win and with that the series.
But not much has been invested in outstations. The school that produced Suranga Lakmal and Dhananjaya de Silva, Debarawewa Central nearly stopped cricket. Ambalangoda, one of our leading talent bases doesn’t have a proper cricket ground. Money is not invested there because that’s not where the cricket vote is.
Sri Lanka needed five wickets to win the game when play resumed yesterday morning. There was a bit of urgency as well with rain expected after lunch. Praveen was on the money from the start. He set up Liton Das nicely, sending down a delivery that spun away and then slipped in the arm ball that went straight on. The Batsman was playing for turn when there was none and he was a dead duck. He reviewed more in hope than any conviction.
Spinners to succeed obviously need skill. More importantly, they need to be shrewd as well. That Praveen has although he’s not quite across the Bentara river. There is an old Sinhala saying not to bring even a kitten beyond Bentara River.
But the guy who is actually across the Bentara river is Ramesh, a product of Dharmasoka. He tied one end up and was quite happy to play second fiddle; not a trait that we often see in southerners. All ten wickets to fall went to spinners. While the two rookies claimed nine victims, Dhananjaya de Silva chipped in with the wicket of Taijul Islam. Praveen finished with 11 for 178, the tenth best figures by a debutant in Test cricket. It’s also the second time in this millennium a bowler has finished with a match bag of ten wickets or more with Australia’s Jason Krejza being the other.
Praveen was named Man of the Match. It’s hard to think of another Sri Lankan bowler who has impressed so much on debut. There’s a problem though. You won’t see young Praveen in action at least until November again. Why? Sri Lanka do not have any Teat matches until then. By the way, this was supposed to be a three match series. But SLC cut down a Test match because this wasn’t a ‘profitable’ series. Hell with Praveen, Ramesh and Test cricket. Let’s play the LPL, that’s where the money is. Who wants this boring Test cricket? That’s not what we are saying. That’s what the Silvas are thinking; Shammi and Ashley.
Moose signs up as cricket’s clothing partner
by Rex Clementine
Singer had been a loyal sponsor of Sri Lankan cricket but a little heard company called Dilmah outbid Singer when the sponsorship was up for grabs in 2002. Singer boss Hemaka Amarasuriya wasn’t whinging and went on record saying that he welcomed local companies coming forward to back the sport.
Within a few years, Dilmah, an entity that was hardly known by most Sri Lankans became a global brand. That exactly is the strategy that Moose have adopted in their bid to become a global brand.
Moose a clothing company that is becoming quite popular among youth for their denims and t-shirts have been associated with cricket sponsorships in the last five years. On Thursday, they announced a four year deal with SLC to be clothing sponsor of the national cricket teams – both men and women.
Moose CEO Hasib Omar is a soft spoken young man who reminds you of the great Aravinda de Silva. But like in Ara’s case, beneath the soft exterior lies a sharp brain.
MAS had been the clothing sponsor of SLC for the last 16 years and Moose has outbid them signing a four year deal that will take them through all bilateral series, ICC events and Asian Cricket Council tournaments. The partnership brings together two of the nation’s main strengths – cricket and apparel industry.
Dimuth’s return to ODIs, a welcome move
by Rex Clementine
After more than two years of stubborn resistance, the selectors have been forced to bite the bullet and admit that their strategies have been faulty and the top order of the ODI outfit needs stability. Hence the return of Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne for white ball cricket for the upcoming three match series against Afghanistan and he should retain his place for the World Cup qualifiers later next month in Zimbabwe too.
One of the troubles with the 50 over side is that the batting department has been found wanting not able to bat out the 50 overs. Dimuth provides the stability opening the innings with his ability to bat through the 50 overs. Other stroke makers can bat around him.
In 2021 April, Dimuth Karunaratne posted his career best Test score of 244 against Bangladesh. A month later, Sri Lanka’s white ball team was touring Bangladesh and Dimuth was sacked from the captaincy as the leadership of the white ball teams was handed to Kusal Perera. It was a left field choice. That was an experiment that didn’t last long.
Not only was Dimuth removed from the captaincy he lost his place in the side as well. It didn’t dawn to the selectors that the batters will be encountering the same bowlers and in Karunaratne they had a man who was in good touch, having smashed a double hundred against the Bangladeshis. The result was catastrophic. Sri Lanka lost the series and in both games they lost, the batting had collapsed.
It is these senseless moves that has resulted in Sri Lanka being forced to play the qualifying round of the World Cup. By the time the selectors wisened up, the horse had bolted. The recalling of Dimuth is an admission by the selectors that they had got their act wrong in axing him.
It will be early winter in Zimbabwe in June and with day games teams will encounter some dew in the morning and need to adjust accordingly. On paper, Sri Lanka should go through, but they are a team that has got everything to lose having won the World Cup once and featured in two other finals. For smaller nations, this is a massive opportunity and if they win, there’s nothing like that but if they lose, they can always try next time. Not for Sri Lanka though, who have featured in every World Cup since the tournament was launched in 1975.
Complacency is the only thing that Sri Lanka need to guard themselves against. A mindset that this is not a tough challenge could see them losing the plot as we have seen it happening to many teams time and again.
In Chris Silverwood the team has someone who knows what to expect in Zimbabwe as he started his coaching stint there having overseen Mashonaland (Harare). The Head Coach will be tapping into the brains of his contacts in Zimbabwe as to what his team can expect when they travel for the qualifiers.
Russian doubles player cleared of match-fixing two years after Roland Garros arrest
Russian doubles player Yana Sizikova has been cleared of match-fixing two years after her arrest at the French Open, according to her lawyer.The 28-year-old was arrested at Roland Garros in 2021 as part of an investigation into match-fixing allegations dating back to the 2020 edition of the Grand Slam.
Sizikova, ranked 50th in doubles, has continued to play on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour since her arrest and will compete at this year’s French Open, which starts today.
“After two and a half years of investigation, the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office definitively closed the case on 11 April 2023, considering that criminal proceedings could not be initiated, as the facts of which Sizikova was accused could not be established,” her lawyer Frederic Belot told Reuters.
Officials began investigating in October 2020 after suspicions of “organised fraud” and “corruption in sports”.
A source close to the investigation told the BBC at the time the inquiry focused on a first-round match in which Sizikova and American partner Madison Brengle lost 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 to Romanian pair Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig.
Suspicions were reportedly raised after betting companies noticed hundreds of thousands of euros had been wagered on a break of serve in the second set.Sizikova was released a day after her arrest in 2021.In July 2022 she and fellow Russian Anastasia Potapova won the Prague Open, while Sizikova reached two other finals last year.
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