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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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Ibrahim Zadran stuns Sri Lanka

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Ibrahim Zadran posted the highest individual score by an Afghan in ODI as he finished on 162 in the third ODI against Sri Lanka at Pallekele yesterday. It’s also the highest score by a visiting batsman in Sri Lanka.

Rex Clementine at Pallekele

We may have seen cricket’s next biggest sensation as Afghanistan’s  Ibrahim Zadran posted a stunning 162 before being dismissed in the last ball of the innings as the tourists posted a commanding 313 in the third ODI against Sri Lanka at the Pallekele International Stadium yesterday.

No team had successfully chased that many at Pallekele to win an ODI and the hosts will be under huge pressure.

Zadran posted the highest individual score by an Afghan going past Mohammad Shahzad’s 131. It was also Afghanistan’s highest total against Sri Lanka.

There had been huge concerns about Sri Lanka’s fielding and a better effort on the field would have seen Afghanistan being reduced to less than 300. Fielding has been an area that has been a letdown for some time now but very little has been done to address the issue.

Zadran had posted a hundred in the first ODI as well and for someone who was featuring in his eighth game, he looked a mature player.  A very organized batsman, the 20-year-old produced some classical shots, and his temperament was outstanding.

Zadran had the aggression of a Ricky Ponting and the elegance of a Rahul Dravid and he certainly will be a player whom we will be talking about a lot in the future.

Zadran’s hundred came off 100 deliveries and from thereon he was cruising as his 162 came off 138 balls with 15 fours and four sixes.

Afghanistan were in a spot of bother as they were reduced to 57 for three. But a 154-run stand for the fourth wicket followed between the two Zadrans – Ibrahim and Najibullah. It’s a new record for Afghanistan for the fourth wicket.

The partnership was broken when captain Dasun Shanaka completed a sharp catch off Wanindu Hasaranga. But Afghanistan were well set at that stage to post a commanding total. Najibullah finished with 77 off 76 balls with eight fours and one six.

Kasun Rajitha continued to impress by claiming three wickets.

Sri Lanka looked to be a side in disarray. As Ibrahim Zadran cleared Wanindu Hasaranga over long-off, the leg-spinner seemed to be upset that the fielder was at mid-off instead of the boundary rope and stormed off the field. He didn’t return to continue bowling and Shanaka had to send down an over from Rikillagaskada End. Eventually he returned and finished with two for 67.

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Sandeesh double helps Sebs  

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Under 19 Division I Cricket 

by Reemus Fernando  

Skipper Sandeesh Fernando produced a five wicket haul before scoring a half century as St. Sebastian’s posted 114 runs for five wickets at stumps in reply to De Mazenod’s 144 on day one of their Under 19 traditional match at Kandana on Wednesday.

Fernando’s five wicket haul was the key as St. Sebastian’s restricted the home team to 144 runs. Later Fernando top scored with 60 runs inclusive of eight fours for them to reach 114 for five wickets.

At Negombo, Maris Stella earned first innings honours against St. Anne’s as Kaveen Fernando and Sadew Eksith made 60s for them to amass 278 runs in reply to visitors’ first innings score of 234 runs.

In the other Division I first XI match which commenced on Wednesday, Mithila Charles scored an unbeaten half century for St. Servatius’ to reach 119 for four wickets at stumps in reply to St. Anthony’s 157 runs at Wattala.

Match Results  

A draw at Negombo 

Scores: 

St. Anne’s 234 all out in 67.3 overs (Adithya Nirvan 49, Yomesh Subasinghe 85, Kavindu Wijesinghe 28; Navindu Wijesuriya 4/53, Ramith Bandara 2/53) and 40 for no loss in 7 overs (Mahima Kotuwila 27n.o.)

Maris Stella 52 for 1 overnight 278 all out in 94.4 overs (Shean Adithya 25, Anshen de Silva 22, Kaveen Fernando 61, Sadew Eksith 65, Hasindu Perera 33, Nethum Basnayake 22; Manaan Muzammil 2/94, Geethika de Silva 2/32, Kevin Shewantha 2/24, Yashmin Kalhara 2/31)

 De Mazenod 144 , St. Sebastian’s 114/5 at Kandana

Scores: 

De Mazenod 144 all out in 57.3 overs (Janith Karindra 21,  Nethan Dias 26, Uvindu Perera 29, Sanketh Perera 21; Manuja Chanthuka 2/30, Sandeesh Fernando  5/27, Mahen Silva 2/13)

St. Sebastian’s 114 for 5 in 38.2 overs (Sanesh Fernando 33, Sandeesh Fernando 60; Kavindu Kaushalya 4/47)

 St. Anthony’s 157, St. Servatius’ 119/4 at Wattala

Scores: 

St. Anthony’s Wattala 157 all out in 57.3 overs  (K. V. R. Perera 40, S. M. S. A. Samaradivakara 43, S. P. Maduranga 24; Chathum Bimsara 3/35, Chiran Neththaru 2/31, Kushan Wijerama 3/31)

St. Servatius’ 119 for 4 in 32  overs (Mithila Charles 51n.o., Vishwa Supun 36; P. V. Randeniya 2/41)

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Chamika under fire after chief selector opens can of worms

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Chamika Karunaratne

By Rex Clementine

Promising all-rounder Chamika Karunaratne will not be considered for selection for a considerable period of time after Chairman of Selectors Pramodaya Wickremesinghe in an e-mail to SLC Secretary Mohan de Silva made a scathing attack on the player.

The mail is circulating in social media and was confirmed yesterday to be authentic and raises serious questions about the national cricket team’s conduct in Australia during the ICC Men’s T-20 World Cup where the former champions’ off the field activities received more attention than their on-field performances.

Team Manager Mahinda Halangoda was brought in for the job as he was known as a strict disciplinarian. Not many during their playing days took on Arjuna Ranatunga, but Halangoda was an exception having stood his ground and not given in to Arjuna during their SSC days. It is believed that Halangoda’s wings were clipped during the World Cup campaign and he may have been told to turn a blind eye to breach of discipline by influential individuals.

Wickremesinghe in his mail says, “I observed that his (Chamika) commitment towards training sessions was fast receding contrary to the high standards he maintained a few months ago.”

“I believe the reason for all the above mentioned is that he is not totally focused on cricket, which is a significant change from his earlier commitment even considering the importance of the ICC World T20.”

“If I’m to continue with what I observed, the whole reason for this is that he was more interested in his distractive personal matters other than cricket.”

“At the conclusion of the Australian tour, I had a meeting with the National Coach pertaining to tour selections for the Afghanistan inbound tour of Sri Lanka. While names were being discussed, Chamika’s name was discussed in detail, the outcome of the meeting on Chamika’s selection was to leave him out from this tour as the National Coach has lost trust in him as Chamika has been exposed in not being truthful to the coach on multiple occasions. It was the opinion of the Coach that Chamika was not focused on his game.”

“Even during the T20 World Cup in Australia I  observed Chamika very closely, it was my observation  that wherever we travelled internally, he was more focused on meeting ladies of Sri Lankan origin who were domiciled in Australia. Further, I would like to place on record that he has missed some training sessions on tour mentioning that he was feeling unwell, however I have reason to believe that he had accommodated female companions at the hotel. (I would propose that a request is made to the hotel to provide CCTV footage on the said dates he did not attend training sessions),” adds Wickremesinghe in his mail.

“I was also told by the team Manager that during our stay in Sydney, a Sri Lankan gentleman had called and wanted to meet with Chamika mentioning that he had a problem to solve with Chamika. Thereafter the Manager refused to accommodate his request unless there was a meaningful reason to meet him, at that point the gentleman had mentioned that Chamika had been calling his wife and bothering her with indecent proposals and being a nuisance. Contacting this gentleman via the Team Manager, you may be able to find out more depth about the activities of Chamika, which he had mentioned that he had evidence of some grave malpractices involving Chamika.”

Karunaratne was fined US$ 5000 for being involved in a fight in a Brisbane casino and was handed a one year suspended sentence. Further, he had been fined 1000 Australian Dollars while on tour for his excesses. “I also got to know from the team manager that he had been lighting oil lamps and incense sticks in his hotel room which is totally against the hotel safety policy, It would have been a major disaster if the room caught on fire and this came to light from the housekeeping and despite being told by the team manager not to  leave the room without blowing out anything which has been lit with fire due to hotel rules. Despite the warning, he had repeated this, the day after having left the room with a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside his room and he was fined 1000 AUD by the team management.”

“The recent inappropriate behaviour by him and Dhanushka Gunathilaka. has hampered the team’s progress, unity and affected the mindset of our young national cricketers, who won the Asia Cup. We need to seriously address these issues and strict discipline has to be adhered to, ensuring these incidents will not happen again. A clear message has to be given to the team, that indiscipline will not be tolerated.”

Wickremesinghe ends his letter requesting SLC to send Karunaratne for counselling. “It is my view that Chamika be referred to Psychological counselling immediately prior to him taking part in any form of International Cricket as it would give this talented youngster, which we as selectors rate him highly for which he can bring to the table in the future for Sri Lankan Cricket.”

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