Archive for December, 2010

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Every Good Wish for the New Year …. so here are images to smile WITH

December 31, 2010

 Pissu Percy cohabits with the Australian enemy ……

       ……. and helps Sri Lanka secure the World Cup!!   

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“Our early 80s line-up was better than today’s”– Sidath Wettimuny in conversation with Sidarth Monga

December 31, 2010

Courtesy of cricinfo –originally posted in August 2010

Opening in a Test with my brother was fun. I couldn’t open with my eldest brother [Sunil], although our careers overlapped. When he toured I didn’t, and when I toured he didn’t. We always felt that they wouldn’t take two brothers at that time. Mithra was actually in Hong Kong, and he had lost out on a year or two. He was an accountant there. He came back and he got into the side briefly. Then I opened with him in a Test series in New Zealand.

Winning the World Cup made cricket a lot more popular in Sri Lanka, but by 1996 we had a damn good team. Had we not won, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.

Our fitness levels were a joke. We just had fun. When I look back, we did all the wrong things. We used to burn out so much before we went on tour that the tour seemed like a break. Roy Dias was one of the most stylish batsmen. My brother Sunil was an absolutely stylish player. Michael Tissera was a beautiful batsman to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed Anura Tennekoon. Never played in Tests. He scored a hundred against every country that toured here. He would have been a run machine.

We were very unfortunate, in that most of our tours were one-off Tests – one-off or two. We could never capitalise on form, or when we got going we could hardly convert it into a big series.

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Two Abstracts summarizing two essays on Sri Lanka’s cricket history, 2007 & 2009

December 31, 2010

Michael Roberts

 Squad that beat India in Ahmedabad early 1965

 These abstracts will give readers some sense of the content so that those wishing to pursue the topic can seek out the original print source. Not that (1) the articles were finalized about 18-24 months before appearing in print, that being the normal time for review processes and printing and (2) there is some overlap between the two articles.

They mesh with the Item on Sangakkara’s interview with Al-Jazeera one week after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket entourage at Lahore on 3 March 2009 in http://thuppahi.wordpress.com [where there are anumber of interesting photographs]. They are presented here in part because they anticipate the publication of the following article in toto within http://thuppahi.wordpress.com: “Cricketing Fervour and Islamic Fervour: Marginalisation in the Diaspora”, The International Journal of the History of Sport, June-Sept. 2004, 3 & 4: 550-63.

Michael Roberts, Landmarks and threads in the cricketing universe of Sri Lanka,Sport in Society, 2007, 10: 120-42.

ABSTRACT:  This article analyses the political contexts impinging upon cricket as well as the politics within the cricketing universe. Organized along temporal as well as thematic lines, it beginswith the story of cricket as a pastime for the ruling British elements and marks the importance of total institutions such as military regiments and schools in its emergence in the nineteenth century. The principal engine of expansion, however, was the institutioncalled the ‘club’. For over 100 years cricket was also an urban phenomenon, though the planting clubs were a site for its expressions of mannered masculinity. A paradox emerges: cricket was both an agency of Westernization and a site for challenges to white, British notions of superiority.As a largely elitist sport confined to the Ceylonese ‘middle class’, it was one of the earliest vehicles of Ceylonese nationalism. This sentiment marked indigenous sentiment without nullifying the ethnic distinctions of clubs centred on Sinhalese, Burghers,Tamil and so on. Thus in the post-independence era the Sri Lankan Tamils were among those who supported the Ceylonese team when they faced the Tamils of southern India in the regular encounter for the Gopalan Trophy (1953–76). Many forces promoted thepopularity of the game among the urban middle classes, not least the popularity of the Ashes and tours by visiting foreign teams in the twentieth century. But until the 1960s/1970s cricket at the highest level was not only elitist, but also dominated by (a) specific elite schools with cultural capital and a powerful cricketing heritage and (b) by the metropolis of Colombo. However, the flow-on from a populist political revolution via the ballot in 1956, which saw the emergence of linguistic nationalism associated with the Sinhala language, eventually penetrated the fields of cricket. Good cricketers from ‘Buddhist schools’ and/or outstation schools began to secure places in the top eleven and eventually, by the 1980s,commanded the scene. This development was one thread in the democratization and popularization of the game, a process assisted by commentaries in the vernacular from thelate 1960s as well as the impact of colour television from 1981 onwards.

 

 Sanath and Roshan hug after record stand at Premadasa Stadium

 

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The Ashes 2010: how meticulous planning has helped England make the most of what they have

December 31, 2010

Scyld Berry, courtesy of the Island, 30 dec. 2010

What distinguishes the two national sides in this Ashes series is that England have made the most of what they have, while Australia have not. For this maximisation of resources England have two men of the highest calibre to thank. In Australia’s set-up there appears to be nobody approaching such accomplishment, on or off the field: only an absence of vision. England’s captain, Andrew Strauss, has been preparing for this tour, on and off, since being part of the historic disaster here in 2006-7. England’s coach, Andy Flower, has called on his experience with South Australia three years before then, and together they have plotted this series with greater thoroughness than any previous England tour to anywhere. In consequence, England in the field have always looked like a team, even when they were being blown aside in their second innings on the pacy pitch in Perth.

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Review of illegal bowling actions: Boycott silenced

December 28, 2010

Michael Roberts

 

  Pics from Kushil Gunasekera –also see Roberts, Essaying Cricket,   2006.

The MCC has a separate Committee to oversee cricketing rules. This is independent of the ICC and only serves in an advisory capacity. It is constituted wholly of players and umpires; and in the MCC view is meant to balance the influence of cricketing administrators whose experience of the game may not be deeply first hand. Note, too, that the MCC still has control over the laws of cricket . Thus, Wikpedia has this note under the subject: “Although MCC remains the framer and copyright holder of the Laws of Cricket, this role is becoming increasingly under pressure as the ICC seeks to exercise control over all aspects of the world game. In recent times the ICC has begun instituting changes to match regulations (e.g., in One Day Internationals (ODIs)) without much consultation with MCC. Also, in moving its location from Lord’s to Dubai, the ICC gave a signal of breaking with the past and from MCC, although tax benefits withdrawn by the then UK Government may have had much to do with this. Changes to the laws of cricket are still made by MCC, but quite rightly only after consultation with the ICC. Nevertheless, any changes to the laws still require a two-thirds majority vote by MCC full members.

    The MCC Committee was assembled in Perth on the 13th and 14th December prior to the Test Match in the Ashes series. Though such members as Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble were not able to attend, the gathering included such eminent personnel as Majid Khan, Tony Lewis, Alex Stewart, Mike Atherton, Michael Brearley, Martin Crowe, Steve Waugh, Tony Dodemaide, Courtney Walsh, Steve Bucknor and Geoff Boycott. The meetings were chaired by the MCC President, Martin-Jenkins and the main focus was the topic of “illegal bowling actions.”

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When Sri Lanka Cricket pulled off a major coup

December 26, 2010

Sa’adi Thawfeeq, Courtesy of The Nation, 26 December 2010

  Premadasa Stadium at Khettarama in silhouette, Pic by David Colin Thome

Sri Lanka Cricket maybe currently under pressure to complete the three 2011 World Cup venues before the deadlines set by the ICC, but few are aware of how they pulled off a major coup to host the ICC World Twenty20 in 2012. Sri Lanka 2011 World Cup Director Suraj Dandeniya told The Nation that Sri Lanka Cricket had a vision and a foresight when they took the decision to construct two new stadiums at Hambantota and Pallekele with lights.   “The decision was taken by the Interim Committee in April 2009 and one of the main reasons was our intention to host the World T20 in 2012,” said Dandeniya.

    

Rajapakse Stadium at Sooriyawewa

  Pallekalay Stadium

“One of the key requirements for one nation to host a global ICC event was that it should have a minimum of four floodlit stadiums. When the decision was taken by the interim committee we had only two floodlit stadiums one in Colombo (the R Premadasa Stadium) and one at Dambulla (Rangiri Dambulla Stadium).  What we thought was with Sri Lanka hosting the 2011 World Cup we could build two more floodlit stadiums and push our case to host the 2012 World T20. It was a logical decision to take at the time. On the long run it is Sri Lanka that stands to benefit. When the ICC finally decided to give it to us it was more like a major coup that we pulled off,” Dandeniya said.

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Shehan Karunatilaka’s Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew

December 26, 2010

Where in the world is Pradeep Mathew? a review by  Sidin Vadukut

There are at least two types of book readers. (I refer to the people who read books and not those new-fangled devices.) The first type read their books in one go, rarely pausing for rumination, reflection or any handwork with pencils or highlighters. If at all, they reflect on the book after they’re done reading. 
  Then there is the rare type – those who cannot read a book without obliterating it with dog ears, notes in the margin, underlined passages and bookmarks. They convert the reading experience into a process. Perhaps they even stop every few minutes to tweet out interesting lines.  If you are one of the latter, you will take days to get through young Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka’s Chinaman. That is even if you really want to finish this brilliant book as quickly as you possibly can. With clever lines on every page, Chinaman is the most tweetable book I’ve ever read. 
 
In hindsight it appears to me as if Karunatilaka wrote the book with a checklist in his mind: “That’s one more page done. Do we have a joke? Check. A brutal dig at cricket? Check. An irreverent swipe at Sri Lankan culture? Check.”
 
A superb work of fiction blended with non-fiction that makes you sit up night after night reading it? Double check. Chinaman is, mostly, the story of a Sri Lankan journalist’s hunt for a long-forgotten, and fictional, Sri Lankan cricket player called Pradeep Mathew. Mathew has a brief, meteoric cricketing career in the late 80s and early 90s that sees him achieve superhuman bowling records. But he vanishes as quickly as he appeared. 
 

  Shehan receiving Gratiaen Prize in 2009, Pic by M.A. Pushpa Kumara. for Sunday Times

As the curious, and increasingly obsessive, journalist, Karunasena, begins to peel back the layers of Mathew’s life he realises something is amiss. Mathew has vanished not just from the cricketing scene, it appears he has ceased to exist. His existence has even been expunged from the record books. And there is something disturbingly Orwellian about it all.
 
Yet Karunatilaka’s book is equally about Karunasena. I wish I knew more about the author to see how self-referential this character is. Or maybe they just share Karunas. But the character of the 64-year old journalist is a wonderful device to place the topic of Sri Lankan cricket within the larger themes provided by Sri Lankan society and history.

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Boxing Day Test Match: Tales and Reflections from Chappell & Walsh

December 26, 2010

Courtesy of the Sunday Mail, 26 December 2006 –with both articles carrying different titles from the combination presented here.

Scott Walsh: Magic of Test Cricket’s Big Day

   

      The Boxing Day Test has an amazing history – including Kim Hughes’ unbeaten 100 in 1981. Even now when he tells the yarn there is a touch of cavalier in the delivery.

A sense of the same “no fear” that had him charging Joel Garner with pull shots through mid-wicket and cutting Michael Holding and Andy Roberts with that trademark flair, front leg raised and bat twirling above his curly blond locks. “Joel certainly wasnt quick – but he was still quick enough”, Hughes says. “By that stage I was on 70-odd and I got a few charges in, hit him through covers and he dropped a bit short.

“The thing was when I went in it was 3/8 and looking at the wicket I thought theres no point hanging around, you might as well try and play a few shots. Fortune favours the brave, I suppose.”

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Sangakkara interviewed by Al-Jazeera on new captain’s role & Lahore attack, 12 March 2009

December 25, 2010

Paul Rhys for Al-Jazeera, 12 March 2009

Jayawardene was captain till March 2009 and Sangakkara took over as scheduled that month. But this interview, which I discovered recently, is of great significance not only for cricket reasons, but because of the information provided on the Sri Lankan players’ reactions to the assault on the cricket entourage near Gaddafi Stadium at Lahore on 3 March 2009. Ironically this Stadium was the scene of Sri Lanka’s greatest ineternational triumph in cricket on 17 March 1996. Chaminda Vaas was the only one to particpate in both events.  Michael Roberts

Kumar Sangakkara’s appointment as Sri Lanka cricket captain in place of Mahela Jayawardene comes just nine days after the team escaped from an ambush by heavily-armed killers on their way to a Test match in Lahore, Pakistan. In a wide-ranging telephone interview with Al Jazeera’s sports website from the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, the world’s No 3 batsman described the extra responsibility of leading a group of players for whom going about the business of playing cricket meant staring down the barrel of a machine gun.

The attack on the team convoy on March 3 left eight dead, including six Pakistani policemen and the driver of a minivan carrying match officials to the Gadaffi Stadium.

As he prepared to have stitches removed from his own shrapnel wounds on Thursday, Sangakkara also spoke of how he would prevent the mantle of leadership from affecting his record-breaking batsmanship – and how his one-time favourite occupation of sledging the opposition can make or break a player’s game.

Al Jazeera: Congratulations on your appointment today. What does it mean to be leading your country after what happened in Lahore?

 
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Sangakkara: It’s always a big responsibility to take on a cricket captaincy, but with what the team has undergone in the last two weeks there is a special significance and dimension to that responsibility.

It is not just about our cricketing skill now, but our group mentality and the need to ensure everyone is firing for the World Twenty20 in England.

We really have to sit down and have a very honest and open discussion about whether what has happened will change the players in any way, to talk about their families and whether we can take something good from what has happened in Lahore.

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Memorable 2010 Cricketing Moments: A hat-trick in Sri Lanka after nine years

December 25, 2010

Rex Clementine, Island, 22 December 201o

A hat-trick in cricket is a rare phenomenon that it has happened only on 27 times in ODI cricket. Even though Test cricket has been played for over hundred years, the longer form of the game has seen only 38 such instances. Sri Lankan fans had an opportunity to see a hat-trick being recorded this year when Farveez Maharoof ran through India’s lower middle order in Dambulla and his was the first on Sri Lankan soil since Chaminda Vaas’ effort against Zimbabwe at SSC in 2001. Overall, there have been just two hat-tricks recorded in Sri Lanka with the first such effort coming from Pakistani all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, who achieved the feat in Galle in 2000 in a Test Match when he dismissed Romesh Kaluwitharana, Rangana Herath and Nuwan Zoysa in successive balls in Sri Lanka’s first innings of the second Test.

Then Chaminda Vaas achieved a hat-trick in an ODI against Heath Streak’s Zimbabwe followed by Lasith Malinga six years later during a stunning spell where he did even better by claiming four wickets in four balls in a World Cup game against South Africa in Guyana that Sri Lanka almost won. Vaas also claimed a hat-trick in a World Cup game against Bangladesh in Pietermaritzburg in 2003. This hat-trick was unique as it was recorded off the first three balls of the match.

On June 20th this year, Maharoof joined the two illustrious Sri Lankan cricketers becoming the third man to take a hat-trick (Nuwan Zoysa is the only Sri Lankan to take a hat-trick in Test cricket) when he performed the feat against India in Dambulla during the Asia Cup.

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