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When ‘siri’ means failure?

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Cricket and national security:

by Rex Clementine

Such was the popularity of Dayasiri Jayasekara when he was named Chief Ministerial candidate of Wayamba a few years ago, there were posters that read, ‘Wayambata siri, Dayasiri’. The popular politician has a history of shooting from the hip, and some of his supporters have changed the slogan to ‘Ammatasiri Dayasiri.’

A lawyer by profession, during his interactions with the media as Sports Minister, he appeared to be quite knowledgeable, broadminded and fair. More than anything, he has not lost the common touch so much so that some old-timers in the media thought he had a brighter future.

However, it needs to be added Dayasiri has to mend his ways in some respects. He has earned notoriety for changing sides in politics. He entered politics from the SLFP and then crossed over to the UNP. He again pole-vaulted to the SLFP.

Now, Dayasiri is taking on religious leaders. Earlier this week, he lashed out at Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith for criticizing Maithriapala Sirisena, who , as the President in 2019, failed to prevent the Easter Sunday carnage despite several early warnings of the terror strikes.

Cardinal Ranjith is one of the most respected religious figures in the Catholic Church and according to Vatican observers, he will be one of the Papabile in an upcoming conclave. The prelate has spoken for his flock. Serious lapses on the part of the ‘yahapalana’ government caused more than 250 Catholics to be killed; people are scared of going to church as a result.   

Men stay out as guards near Catholic churches while women and children are praying. That has been the case all around the country although the presence of armed forces during the Holy Week was a massive relief. This situation has come about thanks to Dayasiri’s political boss, Sirisena’s failure to safeguard national security.

As Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara started with so much promise, having identified all the right things that needed to be done.  But he gave in to political pressure, and his term turned out to be a disaster.  When Dayasiri took over, there was an Interim Committee in place running cricket.  Sidath Wettimuny was presiding over the affairs of SLC, having been put in there for one purpose—introducing a new constitution for SLC. Dayasiri called for cricket elections. Guess who benefited? His SLFP colleague, Thilanga Sumathipala, who returned as President of SLC after a lapse of more than ten years.

It is not only ‘siri’ in their names that Sirisena and Dayasiri have in common; both are known for their failure to deliver. Sirisena failed as the President and Dayasiri as the Sports Minister. Failures seem to have become the pillars of the SLFP!

Dayasiri’s interference in the game of cricket was too much. In 2017, he recalled Sri Lanka’s ODI cricketers back in the middle of the night after they had enplaned to travel to India. Sri Lanka’s legendary cricketers being asked to get off the plane and return home made international headlines. Whom did Dayasiri try to please by making such drastic actions? Was he taking any sides after SLC’s Executive Committee and National Selection Panel ended up on a collision course over some selections?

Some players did not mince their words when they took on Dayasiri. Lasith Malinga was one of them.

The performance of the national cricket team during Dayasiri’s tenure was horrendous. Sri Lanka lost a first-ever Test match to Bangladesh and were whitewashed 5-0 by India and Pakistan. Into the bargain, the national cricket team also suffered a home ODI series defeat to Zimbabwe, a defeat that has been probed by the ICC. It should be also mentioned that when Dayasiri was the Sports Minster, the cricket board gave away funds to construct a state-of-the-art cricket facility in his electorate at the expense of many deserving schools.

Dayasiri should stop trying to defend the indefensible and cutting a pathetic figure in the process. Sirisena will never be able to absolve himself of the sin of having failed to prevent the terror strikes. Dayasiri and his equally failed boss will not be able to get anywhere by taking on the upright religious leaders who are on the side of the truth and are fighting for the people’s right to life.



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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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