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We have let the entire nation down – Mathews

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Rex Clementine in St. Lucia

Sri Lanka’s former captain Angelo Mathews apologized for letting the fans down in the ICC T-20 World Cup. Sri Lanka were knocked out from the first round of the 20 nation tournament after losing back-to-back games to South Africa and Bangladesh and any outside chance of the team going through to the second round vanished after their game against Nepal was washed out without a ball being bowled in Miami.

The wickets have been not conducive for batting in US in the first round of the competition and Sri Lanka got their act wrong when they aimed higher scores on a two paced wicket and paid the price by not putting enough runs on the board. Into the bargain, they also suffered the humiliation of getting bowled out for Sri Lanka’s lowest total ever in T-20 cricket against the Proteas in New York.

“We have let the entire nation down. We are sorry. We have let ourselves down. We never expected this,” Mathews told journalists.

This year, Sri Lanka seemed to have turned things around in white ball cricket, particularly in T20s as they completed series wins over Bangladesh and Afghanistan. While both those teams have had a far better campaign, Sri Lanka have been well below par.

“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t make it to the second round. We can’t take any team lightly. Nepal almost beat South Africa the other night. Unfortunate our game against Nepal got washed out. We will play for our pride in our last group game. We haven’t done justice to ourselves especially the way we played in the first two games. We are hurting so much within ourselves.”

Sri Lanka’s scheduling has been demanding. The former champions and Netherlands are the only two teams that have played their four first round games in four different venues. India had the best travel plan. They played their first three games in New York and only moved out to Miami for the last game. Even India’s warm-up game was played in New York.

England, meanwhile have been chilling in the West Indies. They played two games in Barbados and two games in Antigua. Australia meanwhile have been having a summer holiday in West Indies. Played two games in Barbados and one each in Antigua and St. Lucia. The big three are the privileged ones.

The scheduling, however, is not the reason why Sri Lanka crashed out. They’ve played poor cricket. While the batters have copped most of the blame, the bowling attack that has won the team many games in recent months was a letdown sending down too many wides and full tosses.

Changes are expected to take place in the white ball side lead up to the next series against India. Sri Lanka this year will host New Zealand and West Indies as well in whiter ball series while travelling to New Zealand later in the year.



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Djokovic sets up Alcaraz rematch in Wimbledon final

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Novak Djokovic is trying to match Roger Federer's total of eight Wimbledon titles [BBC]

Novak Djokovic outclassed Italian underdog Lorenzo Musetti to reach the Wimbledon final and set up a showdown with reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz in a repeat of last year’s final.

The 37-year-old impressed as he stayed on course for a record-equalling eighth men’s singles title at Wimbledon with a 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory on Centre Court.

Musetti, 22, had one chance to get the break back in the final set but sent a forehand into the net and crouched down with his head in his hands, knowing the end was near.  Djokovic made sure his opponent did not get another opportunity.

Under pressure, Musetti sent a shot long before Djokovic walked to the net, knowing he had reached his 37th Grand Slam final and 10th at Wimbledon.

The Serb then moved his racquet over his shoulder and imitated playing a violin, in a gesture aimed at his six-year-old daughter Tara, with television cameras showing her grinning along.

Some fans, however, started booing, thinking Djokovic, who produced the same celebration following his win over Holger Rune in the last 16, was being disrespectful.

Alcaraz beat Djokovic in last year’s showpiece, winning 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 3-6 6-4 in a five-set epic, which lasted four hours 42 minutes and is regarded one of the best matches in the tournament’s history.

The pair meet again on Sunday in what could be another amazing chapter in Wimbledon folklore.

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Top ICC official Chris Tetley and Claire Furlong resign

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There was a lot of scrutiny of the matches in the US leg of the World Cup, particularly the games held in New York

A couple of senior officials from the International Cricket Council (ICC), who were closely involved in organizing the Twenty20 World Cup in the US and the West Indies, have resigned. On Friday, it came to light that Chris Tetley, the ICC’s Head of Events, and Claire Furlong, the General Manager of Marketing and Communications, have announced their departures from the organization.

The resignations, coming as they did immediately after the conclusion of the World Cup and just about a week ahead of the ICC’s annual conference in Colombo, are believed to be related to the conduct of the championship. However, ICC insiders say the resignations are several months old.

One particular source has claimed that both Tetley and Furlong decided to leave the world body at the end of the last commercial cycle itself but stayed on in view of the Twenty20 World Cup in the US. The source went on to add that the two quit quite some time back but will continue to be with the ICC for a few more months ‘to ensure smooth transition of charge in a crowded event cycle.’ They will also attend the Annual Conference in Colombo from July 19 to 22.

The World Cup in the US, and particularly in New York, was a major project of the ICC and the two officials were closely involved in it. Many members of the ICC were priming to raise the issue of the New York games, which were low-scoring affairs due to the ‘up and down’ nature of the drop-in pitches at the NY stadium, at the Colombo conclave. A key member of the ICC board is learnt to have raised the issue through a letter to the members.

The number of fours and sixes, which are generally expected to be high in numbers in the Twenty20 games, was significantly low in the New York games. The Indian team, the eventual champions, however, did not comment on the nature of the pitches, stating that the conditions were equal for all the participating teams.

The matches in the US were conducted by an entity called T20 World Cup Inc which had built a modular stadium in the Nassau County of New York’s Long Island in record time. The stadium was dismantled immediately after the NY leg of the championship. NY hosted eight of the 16 games allotted to the US.

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Junior National Athletics Championship commences today

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The spotlight will fall on the Under 20 age category when the Junior National Athletics Championship commences at Diyagama today as the four-day championship will be the final opportunity to qualify for the World Junior Championships.

Six athletes have already reached entry standards for the world event to be held in Lima, Peru in August.

Sri Lanka Athletics has spelt out the plan to form a team for the costly tour also leaving a space for those athletes who excel in the Under 18 age category. The World Junior Championship is open to Under 20 age category.

The day one programme includes at least ten events in the Under 20 age category.

However, it is not only the athletes in the Under 20 age category that will compete for honours.

The event will be vital for athletes in the Under 16, Under 18 and Under 23 age categories as well.

The Junior National Athletics Championship was earlier scheduled for June but inclement weather forced Sri Lanka Athletics to postpone the event to July. This postponement has affected athletes of some areas as some zonal championships commence during the Junior National.

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