Desert Cubs hijack players

Lanka Lions fail to field a side for first time

The Lanka Lions Sports Club has been a dominant force over the last three decades in UAE cricket, but has been deprived of fielding a side for the first time in the history of the on going Bukhatir League Tournament.
Their entire ‘A’ division side, which was runner-up last year at the Ramadan Cricket Tournament, has fled to represent the Desert Cubs Cricket Academy which is taking part in the Bukhatir League for the first time.
The players have been apparently lured by lucrative financial benefits such as coaching contracts and opportunities to complete ICC conducted level 1, 2 and 3 coaching courses.

Desert Cubs Cricket Academy is ironically owned by a former Lanka Lions stalwart Presley Polonnowita, who was the captain when the Lions incidentally won this prestigious tournament last time.
“Polonnowita, who was appointed as the cricket coach of the Lanka Lions Sports Club at a gala function by Lanka Lions Sports Club earlier in the year, tendered his resignation midway during the 40-over Al Dhaid Gold Cup cricket tournament. He also walked away with the cricketers who were made up mainly of his coaching staff,” said Terrence Rodrigo the official Sports coordinator of the Lanka Lions Sports Club.

Polonnowita had cited ‘personal’ and ‘business commitments’ as the reasons for his resignation.
“We were forced to hand walkovers to our competitors at this tournament as the players complained they would lose their coaching contracts if they continued to play for Lanka Lions,” added Rodrigo.
When ‘Emirates 24|7’ contacted Polonnowita, he said it was up to the Lanka Lions to get their act together and find ways to get their players to play for them.

“It is true that I have created loads of benefits for all of my coaching staff who are Lanka Lions cricketers. It is entirely up to them as individuals to decide whom they wish to represent. The Desert Cubs Cricket Academy will take part in every ‘A’ division tournament in the future, as it is now part of my business policy to groom budding youngsters to gain invaluable experience by playing alongside senior cricketers,” he said.
Polonnowita, a former first class cricketer in Sri Lanka, wields influence not only in the UAE but has also roped in former Sri Lanka stars Sidath Wettimuny and Rumesh Ratnayake for his project.

“I have further expanded my business to Sri Lanka where I have teamed up with Sidath Wettimuny who is the Patron of the Desert Cubs International Cricket Academy which will be run by Lucky Rogers and spearheaded by Rumesh Ratnayake,” he disclosed.
“Over here in the UAE Mazar Khan (Administrator of Emirates Cricket Board) is Patron of the Academy and the support we also get from the ICC (International Cricket Council) is of immense benefit. Dayle Hadlee, Mudassar Nazar and Rodney Marsh have frequented our coaching sessions and have given invaluable tips to our budding cricketers,” he said.

“I have personally washed my hands off Lanka Lions cricket and am concentrating solely on my business. However, I will still continue to be a member of the club,” added Polonnowita.
Indika Batuwitaarachchi, a former Lanka Lions player and now coach of Desert Cubs Cricket Academy said that Polonnowita had informed all of his coaching staff that he has no issues if they wished to continue playing for Lanka Lions, but stressed that they have to be present at 3:30pm at the grounds to coach the students.
As a result, the cricketers were left with no choice as they could not both play cricket matches on Fridays and Saturdays, and also be present at the time they were required to report to the grounds for their coaching duties.
It is a blessing in disguise for 15 of Lanka Lions ‘A’ division cricketers, including this year’s officially appointed captain Malintha Perera, to earn over Dh2,000 a month by simply helping the Desert Cubs Academy as coaching staff.

The academy coaches both boys and girls and has seen many of its students represent the UAE in either junior age groups or in some cases the UAE women’s cricket teams too.
Lanka Lions Sports Club officials were absolutely distraught as this is the first time that a side belonging to them has been hijacked in such a manner.

“Incidentally the club went one step further and even bought individual kit bags and cricket equipment and distributed them to all ‘A’ division cricketers at the start of the season in spite of numerous promises from them confirming that they will pay their respective membership fees which they never eventually did,” said Rodrigo.
“The club did its utmost for the cricketers as usual. The Desert Cubs Cricket Academy seems to have benefited from this, as all spectators at the recently concluded Bukhatir League match played between Desert Cubs Cricket Academy and Fly Emirates witnessed the academy players proudly strutting into the grounds with the cricket equipment they received from Lanka Lions Sports Club for their game,” he said.
Lanka Lions officials allege the cause for Polonnowita to break ranks was over the club’s refusal to send an SMS to its members promoting a cricket carnival organised by the academy.

“The Executive Committee refused to accept this request as the SMS service paid for by Lanka Lions Sports Club is for its exclusive usage. As a club we cannot entertain individual requests of this nature and it is sad that Presley Polonnowita had to get offended by this simple refusal,” said Rodrigo.
Aaron Vedasinghe, Cricket Manager of Lanka Lions Sports Club observed it was very unfortunate that the club could not field a side in the ongoing Bukhatir League Tournament.
“Last time around I really enjoyed my role as the manager of the side as the team gelled well together and it was a pleasure to see them go all the way to the finals of the Ramadan Cup,” he recalled.
Lanka Lions emerged runners-up at the Ramadan cricket tournament last year. – [Emirates 24/7]


Sri Lanka CF U-16 All India cricket champions

The Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation team, which was invited to participate in the JM Haroon 12th All India Under-16 League Cricket Championships in Chennai from April 13-18, emerged champions in the tournament.
The tournament was organised by the Cricket Federation of India and the final was played on a Twenty20 format. The preliminary round matches upto the semi-finals were 25 overs a side.
As many as 11 zonal teams from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Haryana, Oman etc. participated along with the SLCF.
Kusal Mendis was the star of the tournament winning the man of the match awards both in the semi-finals and final and emerging as the best batsman of the tournament. The other awards were won by Thilaksha Malshan (man of the match in quarter-finals) and Geeshath Panditharatne (best up and coming player in the tournament).


  • Beat Maharashtra by 139 runs.
    Sri Lanka CF 225-5 (25) (Kusal Mendis 62, Thilaksha Malshan 68)
    Maharashtra 83 (14) (R Kushal 30, Geeshath Panditharatne 5/18 including a hat-trick)
  • Beat Combined Federation XI by 175 runs.
    Sri Lanka CF 216-7 (25) (Kusal Mendis 55, Mahel Jayalath 33, Ranindun Jayampathy 22, Shanin Sewvinda 29, Chalaka Shehan 20, V. Harry 3/35)
    CF XI 41 (12) (Geeshath Panditharatne 5/17, Chalaka Shehan 2/14, Ashan Vimode 2/4)
  • Beat Hyderabad by 101 runs (quarter-finals).
    Sri Lanka CF 175-7 (25) (Kusal Mendis 67, Thilaksha Malshan 22, Chalaka Shehan 24, A Mumim 3/30)
    Hyderabad 74 (24.1) (A Ratath 27, Chalaka Shehan 2/10, Thilaksha Malshan 3/5, Geeshath Panditharatne 2/16).
  • Beat Haryana by 6 wickets (semi-finals)
    Haryana 81 (20.3) (R.Gurunek 14, Aravinda Bandara 2/11, Thilaksha Malshan 2/10, Geeshath Panditharatne 2/16, Ranindun Jayampathy 2/23)
    Sri Lanka CF 86-2 (22.2) (Kusal Mendis 22, Thilaksha Malshan 29, R.Gurunek 2/18, P. Wishvash 2/14)
  • Beat Pondicherry by 8 wickets (Final)
    Pondicherry 101 (19.4) (D Gayans 25, M Musthafa 16, R Siddhath 15, Aravinda Bandara 2/18, Thilaksha Malshan 3/16, Geeshath Panditharatne 2/18)
    Sri Lanka CF 102-2 (16.5) (Kanishka Venura 20, Mahel Jayalath 22, Kusal Mendis 39 n.o., Thilaksha Malshan 18 n.o.)

Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation team: Kusal Mendis (Captain/wk/Prince of Wales), Geeshath Panditharatne (Vice-captain/Royal College), Kanishka Venura Perera (President’s College Kotte), Mihiran Kanishka (Siri Piyaratne Padukka), Ashan Vimode (Chandrasekara MMV Horethuduwa), Ranindun Jayampathy (Kottawa Dharmapala College), Prashan Ratnayake (Dharmapala Pannipitiya), Shanin Sewvinda (Joseph Vaz Wennappuwa), Chalaka Shehan (St. Mary’s Chilaw), Aravinda Deshabhakthi Bandara (Ananda Vidyalaya Puttalam), Rasanka Dharmasena (Malabe Adharsha), Mahel Jayalath (St.Benedict’s College), Thilaksha Malshan (Dharmapala Kottawa), Gayan Chamara (Prince of Wales), Dinesh Kumarasinghe (coach), Thushara Cooray (manager), Vivian Severimuththupulle (MIC).


Inaugural Invitational Under 12 cricket tournament

Rain washes out final

The Roy Dias School of Cricket invitational U-12 inaugural tournament ended without a ball being bowled in the final as rain washed out play between the unbeaten MCA Cricket Academy and SSK Cricket Academy at the MCA grounds on Easter Sunday.

Thus, MCA Cricket Academy, the only unbeaten team in the tournament, led by Harshan Yogendra and SSK Cricket Academy, led by Revan Kelee were declared joint winners.
Rain somewhat spared the morning’s match, the play-off for the third place, SSC School of Cricket beating Cric-Hit Cricket Academy on a faster run rate.

The match, originally scheduled for 30 overs a side, got off to a late start and was reduced to 25 overs a side. SSC who won the toss and chose to bat scored 69 runs in 21.2 overs and Cric-Hit was struggling at 33 for 8 in 20.3 overs when rain put an end to the game.

The MCA ground staff really put their shoulders to the wheel to get the ground ready by 3.45 pm to play at least a 15overs a side game in the final, to constitute a match, but their effort was in vain.
If it had materialised, the final would have been an interesting game as SSK Cricket Academy (who conduct their classes at NCC) came looking for sweet revenge over MCA on their loss during the league stage.
Both teams played in the same group, MCA finishing on top of the table with five wins out of five, the other four wins were against CCC, Panadura, I-Gate and Lankans.

On Saturday, as the rains lashed out throughout the country, the semi-finals were abandoned without a ball being bowled and the winners were determined by a ‘bowl-out’ contest held indoors at the MCA practice nets.
Group ‘B’ runners-up SSK Cricket Academy eliminated group ‘A’ winner SSC school of Cricket 5/3, while group ‘B’ winner, MCA beat group ‘A’ runners-up Cric-Hit 4/3.
SSC School of Cricket captain, Nipun Deshan Sumanasinghe was adjudged the player of the tournament and the best bowler (223 runs and 16 wickets) while Ayana Siriwardena from CCC School of Cricket won the best batsman’s award (226 runs, avg. 75.3).

Parliamentarian and 1996 World Cup winning captain, Arjuna Ranatunga and his wife Samadara were the chief guests at the post tournament awards presentation.
The others associated at the presentation were Kumudu Kaluarachchi, Sales Plan and Operations Manager and Sujeewa Manikdiwela, Regional Sales Manager (both from Ceylon Cold Stores); Muditha Wijekulatillake from Solex Engineering, MCA Centenary President Mahesh Wijewardene and Roy Dias who is back for good from Nepal.
At the end of the awards presentation a beautiful bouquet of flowers was presented to Mrs. Tharanga Dias (Roy’s wife) in appreciation for conducting a very successful tournament for the first time. – [LW]


SLIIT recognises students’ sporting achievements

The Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) recently held its colours night where the institute’s top achievers in sports were awarded their colours certificates and trophies.
The President/CEO Challenge Trophy donated by Professor Lalith Gamage for Best All-round Student - Sports was awarded to Laksiri Wijeyeratna. The Chairman Challenge Trophy donated by Professor S. Karunaratne for Outstanding Sportsman of the Year was awarded to Thilan Perera, and Prathibhani Bambarandage received the Chairperson Sports Advisory Board Challenge Trophy for Outstanding Sportswoman of the Year donated by Dr. Mahesha Kapurubandara.
SLIIT plays a pivotal role in developing students’ skills through a host of facilities and recreational activities. Awards were also presented for other sporting events, including basketball, rugby, volleyball, tennis and table tennis.
Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne, Secretary - Ministry of Higher Education graced the occasion as chief guest.


Zesta sponsors Trinity rugby for three years

Watawala Plantations PLC, a pioneering tea plantation and marketing company in Sri Lanka, announced its sponsorship of the Trinity College first XV rugby team creating a venue for increasing brand visibility and exposure of their flagship brand Zesta, in addition to enhancing the college’s rugby programme.
This is the maiden venture of Watawala Plantations into sports sponsorship allows the Zesta Tea Brand logo to be carried on the team’s jersey and warm up kits.

The sponsorship, which focuses as a CSR project will continue for a period of three years beginning 2011. Vish Govindasamy, Group Managing Director of Watawala Plantations, handed over the sponsorship agreement to the Principal of Trinity College, Brig. Udaya Ariyaratne during a press briefing held in Colombo.
While paving the way for other top corporates to venture into similar projects, the company intends to create more brand awareness and strengthen ties with their diverse clientele through the sponsorship.

Commenting on this initiative Govindasamy, Group Managing Director, said that the company was glad to be a part of this project, adding, “Trinity College has helped to build our character and now it is our turn. We need to be there for the next generation, to give back to the College what we have gained from.”
Trinity College being the alma mater of many senior directors as well as managers at Watawala Plantations PLC, and their close association with the planting fraternity, is one reason for the company to select the school for the project.

According to Brig. Udaya Ariyaratne the sponsorship will greatly assist to develop the college rugby team since fostering sports is a costly task and such corporate sponsorships would help to maintain great sporting traditions of Trinity.