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When your best brains call the shots

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by Rex Clementine

There’s a feeling that the national cricket team has turned things around in white ball cricket after some humiliating experiences in the last seven years where there were whitewashes in plenty and failure to earn automatic qualifications for ICC events. Sri Lanka’s come from behind win in the Asia Cup in UAE is definite indication that the team has certainly made a leap forward. A few people were quick to take credit for the team’s success. As they say, victory has thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan.

There are some individuals who have enjoyed Sri Lanka’s recent success but haven’t gone onto claim credit. Former captain Aravinda de Silva and his Cricket Advisory Committee comprising Roshan Mahanama, Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitharan certainly deserves much credit for revamping the cricket structure and introducing some drastic change.

One of Aravinda’s committee’s main decisions was to bring in youth for white ball teams. The young team wasn’t covering themselves in glory at the initial stages and the idea was even frowned upon. However, with constant exposure and with Dasun Shanaka chosen as the new captain, the team started to compete and earlier this month in UAE hit a purple patch. To win five games in a row was quite an achievement and when you think that three of those wins were against India and Pakistan, world’s number one and two ranked teams, you realize how special this was.

There was also a new fitness regime that was introduced around that time. It became a bone of contention with several players becoming ineligible for selections after failing fitness tests. It helped that Sri Lanka had a Head Coach in Mickey Arthur who valued fitness immensely. This resulted in players taking fitness seriously and the consequences of that were less injuries and improved performances.

Restructuring of the coaching department by depending heavily on local talents was another area that was done by the Cricket Advisory Committee. It was not only the national team that was looked at but dedicated coaching staff for under-19, development squad and the ‘A’ team were timely moves.

Another decision taken by them was introducing a new payment scheme for players whereby a performance based system was introduced. Although it was challenged at the start, the stakeholders bought into the new system as it was on merit rather than seniority. The Cricket Advisory Committee’s tenure was short lived but the structures that they put in place were vital in reviving the fortunes of the national cricket team.

Not all parties agreed with the changes that were introduced but they were needed. The Asia Cup win was Sri Lanka’s first major series triumph in eight years. If Sri Lanka wishes consistency on the cricket field moving forward, we need to make most of some of the best brains that we have in the game. Credit should go to Sri Lanka Cricket as well for agreeing to take a back seat and allowing their former captains to call the shots on vital matters in a bid to make the national cricket team competitive again.



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Six member committee appointed to inquire into Sri Lanka Cricket Team’s conduct in Australia

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Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe has appointed a six member committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents reported against some members of the Sri Lanka Cricket team that participated at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

 

 

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My best knock for Sri Lanka – Asalanka

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By Rex Clementine

If you had no idea why Roy Dias identified Charith Asalanka as a Test captain in the waiting some seven years ago, there was proof for his claims at Pallekele on Wednesday as the diminutive left-hander from Elpitiya pulled off a stunning run chase against Afghanistan.Sri Lanka chased down a target of 314 in the last over with Asalanka finishing things off in style with a pulled six. What’s so special with the win is that it is Sri Lanka’s highest successful run chase ever at home.

“I was struggling with cramps. The heat was too much in the afternoon.

Once Dunith came in, I told him not to do too much running and target the gaps. There was a good partnership with Dasun too before that and that helped us to get back into the game,” Asalanka noted.

Most players when they get into the Sri Lankan cricket set up they get themselves tattooed and buy fancy cars and luxury apartments. Asalanka has remained grounded and he is very much close to his roots at Elpitiya.

In fact, he married his childhood sweetheart, whom he fell in love with at the age of 15. The pair met at the school bus when Asalanka was playing under-17 cricket and despite money and fame the captain in waiting hasn’t forgotten his past. Asalanka took a break middle of the series to get married on the 28th of November, the day of their tenth anniversary of falling in love. However, there was no honeymoon as Asalanka had to return to Pallekele for the rest of the series.

His wife is an English teacher and that gives us hope that press conferences are going to be interesting again although the good old days of Sanga will never come.Asalanka received a scholarship to Richmond College after passing the Grade Five scholarship and he is known as a sharp thinker of the game.

“First game the ball swung a lot. It was a grassy pitch. We knew this wicket was not going to do much for the bowlers. The main thing we wanted was to bat 50 overs. Everyone contributed from top to the lower middle order, and it was great to watch.”

Sri Lanka have a settled top order when it comes to white ball cricket and the middle order could be built on Asalanka who can accelerate and rebuild an innings. “Dasun is the one who told me that I’d be batting at number five and to feel comfortable. I was going to get the long rope. I had never batted at number five before that and glad I have cemented my place now.”

“This is my best innings in international cricket. Dunith Wellalage was outstanding as well. Afghanistan have a very experienced side. They have lot of players who are involved in league cricket. Dunith showed lot of maturity.”

“We had identified that Rashid Khan was their key players. We didn’t want to take risks against him. We got out for some good balls. We made sure that we didn’t give wickets to him, and it got easier to score runs.

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Richmond, Trinity clash for Under 19 Division I Tier ‘A’ cricket title  

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by Reemus Fernando  

The stage is set for a thrilling climax when unbeaten Richmond meet formidable Trinity in the final of the Under 19 Division I Tier ‘A’ cricket tournament at the Thurstan College ground today.

There are two factors indicating to a thrilling climax. Both teams know what it takes to win a championship title as they have players who have featured in finals before. It was not long ago that a few players in the Trinity team guided their Under 17 team to joint champions title of the Division I cricket tournament of that age category. The team from Galle have in their ranks a number of players who had to be content with the runner up position after reaching the final of this tournament during the last season.

For the final, Trinity are likely to stick to the same team which won the semi –final against their arch rivals St. Anthony’s at the same venue early this week. During this tournament captain Rahal Amarasinghe has seen Manula Kularathne, Theeraka Ranatunga, Dinusha Pieris  and Janith Warnakula sharing most of the batting responsibilities for the team’s success.

In the bowling department, Ranatunga (with over 20 wickets) has topped the wicket takers list. Dinuka Thennakoon, Tharana Wimaladharma and Manula Kularathne are the others shouldering most of the wicket taking duties.

During the semi-final Ranatunga was joined by skipper Amarasinghe, Peiris, Wathila Udara and Vibhavith Ehelepola to play crucial roles with the bat, while the former and deputy skipper Ehelepola took two wickets each to contain St. Anthony’s to 202 runs.  A prominent feature of Richmond during this tournament was the dominant role played by their Sri Lanka Under 19 player Malsha Tharupathi. Tharupathi produced outstanding all-round feats to beat defending champions St. Joseph’s and St. Benedict’s in the quarter-final and the semi-final.

They have a strong batting line up from skipper Tharinda Nirmal, Helitha Edirisinghe, Thamindu Pradeeptha, Kavindu Nirmana, wicketkeeper batsman Janeth Kaushal to Tharupathi.

While Tharupathi is easily their top wicket taker, Nalaka Jaywardena, Nirmal and Sharon Abishek have all shared bowling responsibilities. Maheesha de Silva and Kaveesha Induwara have been economical with the new ball.

How they reached the final 

Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa and St. Anthony’s, Katugastota during the knockout stage after completing their first round matches as the third placed team in their group. They won five out of the eight matches during that phase.

Richmond have remained unbeaten during this tournament. They won all their eight matches in the first round to be the champions in their group. During the knockout stage they ousted defending champions St. Joseph’s and St. Benedict’s in a row to reach their second consecutive final.

Teams:

Richmond (from): Tharinda Nirmal  (Captain), Kavindu Nirmana (Vice Captain), Ruwan Jayawardena, Janeth Kaushal, Maheesha De Silva, Malsha Tharupathi, Sharon Abhishek, Thamindu Pradeeptha, Chehan Subasinghe, Sihath Ramanayake, Sasindu De Silva, Seneth Sisan, Kaveesha Induwara, Manuja Dulneth, Helith Edirisinghe, K.K Yuri, Pubudu Mihiranga,  Charuka Gunasekara. 

Officials:

Nuwan Jayasinghe (Master in Charge), Lakmal de Silva (Head Coach), Umal Udayanga (Asst. Coach), Lahiru Madhuwantha (Asst. Coach) 

Trinity (from):  Rahal Amarasinghe (Captain), Vibhavith Ehelepola (Vice Captain), Theeraka Ranatunga, Supun Waduge, Manula Kularatne, Tharana Wimaladharma, Kusal Wijetunga, Dinusha Pieris, Dinuka Tennakoon, Jayavi Liyanagama, Janith Warnakula, Malith Rathnayake, Lakvin Abeysinghe, Wathila Udara, Yewan Hulangamuwa, Viduka Dhammage. 

Officials:

Brian Senaratne (Master in Charge), Naveen Ekanayake (Head Coach),  Lakshitha Alahakoon (Asst. Coach) 

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