Shunned former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu giving Canada a helping hand to qualify for the 2011 ICC World Cup at the Sara Stadium nets
(Pic by Rukshan Abeywansha)

Integrity of cricket officials should not be in question - Atapattu

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Former Sri Lanka captain and opening batsman Marvan Atapattu said that there shouldn’t be any room left for cricketers to question the integrity of Sri Lanka Cricket officials, but sadly it is the case today.

“Cricketers should not be too worried about the administration if it is being run correctly. But when it comes to cricketing matters cricketers with experience should be involved. Cricketers don’t have to be good administrators and at the same time administrators will never be good at taking decisions related to cricket matters. We have missed these two points badly in the last two years,” said Atapattu.

“There shouldn’t be any room left for players to question the integrity of officials. Today you can turn around and question almost everybody’s integrity at Sri Lanka Cricket. It should not happen,” he said.
Atapattu said that all the politics that was going on at Sri Lanka Cricket was a waste of time and it is pushing the country’s cricket backwards.

“We have such a lot of talented people in Sri Lanka it is very sad that they cannot work together due to personal differences. If we work towards one goal why can’t we do the right thing and let the system take over without meddling around with it?” Atapattu questioned.

Sri Lanka Cricket is today run by just three individuals – Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge, his personal secretary S Liyanagama whom he has appointed as the competent authority and SLC CEO Duleep Mendis.
Atapattu shunned by his country for his participation in the rebel ICL tournament is assisting the Canadian national cricket team qualify for the 2011 World Cup tournament.

Atapattu has been hired by Cricket Canada as their batting coach till the end of the World Cup qualifying ICC trophy tournament in April 19. The Canadian team is presently preparing themselves for the event making use of the facilities and specialised coaches in Sri Lanka.

“Cricket coaching is much easier than practising. I’ve always loved to coach if I had a chance. Coaching is something I want to do and looking to do in the future when this offer came along,” said Atapattu. “I have two more years with ICL but since ICL is not happening till about July I thought this is a great opportunity to keep myself occupied.”

This is the first time Atapattu, 38, veteran of 90 Tests and 268 ODIs has undertaken the task of coaching a national side. His previous experience has been coaching with the Fingara Cricket Academy for a couple of months.
“Pubudu Dassanayake who is Canada’s head coach called me and asked whether I could help him out with their batting. It was something which I loved doing and as I was free I obliged him,” said Atapattu.

Asked to what extent Atapattu’s presence has improved his team’s batting techniques Dassanayake replied: “Marvan has been working with the team for three weeks and the results are already there for everyone to see. The little issues we had on the technical side Marvan has gone through and corrected. The first friendly game we played on Sunday against Nugegoda S&WC showed how much the batsmen have improved in the three weeks.”

Questioned on the prospect of one day becoming Sri Lanka’s batting coach Atapattu responded: “I don’t want to project my thinking so far and so soon, but maybe not at the highest level to be honest. With the top level guys you cannot do a lot with their techniques and adjustments, but if you take on probably the second string or the academy levels I can do the adjustments. It is important from my point of view I would love to get involved in doing adjustments.”

Since the tour to Australia in November 2007 after which Atapattu retired from international cricket, he has not played a single first-class match due to the ban imposed by Sri Lanka Cricket on ICL contracted players. He has played one season of ICL and apart from that, a few Mercantile ‘A’ division matches for Fingara.

“My priorities are with the ICL for the next two years. If they go on playing the tournaments they had originally planned to hold I probably will spend about 110 days a year playing cricket. That’s enough for me at my age. But if that is not happening then I have my matches with Lashings in England and I will go where my service are needed,” stated Atapattu.
Lashings are a private charity organisation playing 35-over games involving several international cricketers. They play around 30 matches during the season mostly against club sides.

Atapattu accused the ICC of double standards in imposing a ban on ICL cricketers but allowing a similar tournament the IPL to run freely. “Both the ICL and IPL are helping cricketers raise their standards of living so why are they supporting only the IPL and depriving cricketers from playing domestic and international cricket. Going by media reports it is a grudge battle between two individuals and the whole cricket world is made to suffer. It is very unfortunate,” said Atapattu.

He was critical of Sri Lanka playing too many matches against weak oppositions. “We have lots of good players who are just being exposed to playing against weaker teams. We should be able to demand good teams to come here and provide us good opposition so that the real talent of our cricketers is exposed.”

Atapattu said that Sri Lanka’s international cricket programme was like a football scenario. “It’s more like a penalty situation. If you score off a penalty people will say you scored because you were awarded a penalty. But on the other hand if you fail to score the people will say that you cannot even score off a penalty.


Only 8 wins in 58 encounters of ‘Battle of the Golds’

Time for a winning result

St. Sebastian’s : Standing (from left): Deshan Dias, Oshada Fernando, Ramesh Fernando, Marlon Fernando, Sanitha de Mel, Brian Paul, Konney Rodrigo, Kasun Fernando, Jayaran Fernando, Anoj Gayashan, Amila Aponso, Shawan Fernando.
Seated (from left): Charith Fernando, Frank Cooray (MIC) Prageeth Perera (captain) Rev. Fr. Bonnie Fernando (Rector) Ishara Fernando (vice-captain), Sanjeewa Silva (coach), Anuk de Alwis

By Samiddha Rathnayake
Both Prince of Wales and St. Sebastian’s will have to come up with something quite sensational to shatter the 31-year-old stream of draws that prevails in the 59th ‘Battle of the Golds’ cricket encounter that will be played at the De Soysa Stadium on March 13 and 14. The event will be followed by the one-day encounter that will take place on March 15 at the same venue.

This series is a much anticipated event in Moratuwa and it is quite significant that from the past 58 encounters only eight have produced a winning result. Out of these, six have ended in favour of the Cambrians while Sebastianites have won only two. The last winning result was in 1977 in favour of the Cambrians. Though the event was initiated in 1933, there had been few instances when it was not held.

Comparing the season’s results of both teams, it is quite evident that the Cambrians are equipped with a stronger side than their rivals. After 14 matches they have only one defeat whereas Sebastianites have lost four out of the fourteen matches they have played.

Prince of Wales : Standing (from left): Saviya Fernando, Ashan Fernando, Isuru Thilina, Dulan Chathuka, Shehan Jayasooriya, Thushara de Alwis, Nipun Chamara, Malshan Mendis, Sampath Mahesh, Nuwantha Peiris, Shehan Dammalage, Sithum Fernando.
Seated (from left): Mohamed Hazim, Susantha Mendis (MIC), Dilan Chandima (vice-captain) Sampath Weragoda (POG), Rohana Karunaratne (Principal), Buddhika Alwis (captain), Lanthra Fernando (coach), Thisaru de Mel

Lantra Fernando, the coach of Prince of Wales is quite confident of breaking the deadlock this year as “we have got a bunch of players who cooperate with each other well. Apart from that, considering how the Sebastianites have fared this season, I’m quite sure that we are the strong favourites this time.”

Captain Buddhika Alwis and vice captain Dilan Chandima hold the key for the Cambrians. Chandima, being the best batsman of the outfit has passed the 800-run mark for the season which includes two centuries and three half-centuries. On the other hand Alwis has scored almost 400 runs and taken over 40 wickets with his leg-spin. Commenting on his team’s capabilities Alwis said that they are well prepared to create history by winning this year’s ‘Big Match’. “We are quite keen on winning this year. It has been a long wait for both teams. But as we have performed better than them during the season I feel we have a good chance of winning,” he said.

For Sebastianites, their captain Prageeth Perera and Deshan Dias have been the most prolific run-getters. After 16 matches Dias has 836 runs against his name while Perera has scored 589 runs in 13 matches. Left-arm leg-spinner Amila Aponso has been the most successful bowler for Sebastianites with 44 wickets from 12 matches. Despite underperforming during the season, Sebastianites captain Perera is hopeful of bouncing back in the ‘Big Match’. “It is true that we couldn’t perform up to expectations during the season, but I’m sure that the guys can come up with something exceptional during this year’s ‘Big Match’. We will play positively” he said.

Sebastianites coach Sanjeewa Silva is also quite confident of making a strong comeback. “It won’t be easy for both the teams. Despite the few drawbacks, we will do our best to make a strong comeback. If one considers the season’s results, both teams have failed to register a single win and they will be craving for one. Overall, it’ll be a great contest this year” he said.


Referral system gets Hot Spot aid

DUBAI: Hot Spot technology, which judges whether or not a batsman has edged the ball, will be trialled in the second and third Tests between South Africa and Australia, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Thursday.

Hot Spot images will be available to the third umpire in the event of a player requesting a decision to be reviewed during the matches in Durban and Cape Town which starting on March 19.
“It means the third umpire will have more information at his disposal and that has to be a good thing,” said ICC general manager David Richardson.

Hot Spot uses two infra-red cameras positioned at either end of the ground. The cameras sense and measure heat from friction generated by a collision, such as ball on pad, ball on bat, ball on ground or ball on glove. A black and white negative image of the incident is generated into a computer which shows the ball’s precise point of contact.

The technology was originally set for use during the trial in the Pakistan-India series that was due to take place at the start of the year but when that series was called off, that equipment was ear-marked by broadcasters for the New Zealand-India series instead.

The umpire decision review system has already been used in the Sri Lanka-India and New Zealand-West Indies series last year and is also being trialled in the ongoing West Indies-England series. - [Bureau report]