Sir Garfield Sobers – Sri Lanka’s First Foreign Coach

Gary Sobers coaching Sri Lanka in the eighties

“When I came to coach [Sri Lanka] in 1982, I was told about a young kid. Then I went to the ground and saw him bat, and I was truly amazed about this boy’s talent. He is Arjuna Ranatunga” – Sir Garfield Sobers, photographed on his second stint as the coach in 1983, with Arjuna Ranatunga is seen in the background. (© Unknown)

The negotiation skills and political acumen of the late Gamini Dissanayake, back then a cabinet minister, helped achieve Sri Lanka’s much deserved and long-awaited quest for elevation to Full Member status of the ICC on 21 July 1981.

Dissanayake wearing two hats, also as the president of the country’s cricket board, then made some crucial moves to add value to Sri Lanka’s newfound Test status. He engaged the greatest all-rounder on record, Sir Garfield Sobers, to coach the Sri Lanka team.

“When I was in Australia, Gamini Dissanayake came over and said that he was going to England to apply for Test status. I was really excited,” Sir Gary later reminisced.

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To Whom Should We Refer the Third Umpire?

Pioneering efforts of the Third (TV) Umpire concept in cricket

TV Umpire in cricket

The beginnings of the third (TV) umpire (© Cricinfo).

Indisputably, the third umpire (or TV Umpire) plays an essential role in modern-day cricket. The concept of an off-field umpire making line decisions ̶ runouts and stumpings, debuted in the 1992/93 Test series when South Africa faced India. Sachin Tendulkar, who has many firsts involving his batting prowess, was incidentally, the first batsman to be given out (run-out) by the third umpire on 14 November 1992 in the first of those Tests.

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Malcolm Francke: An Unlucky Genius

An infant prodigy, so inspiring for aspiring cricketers to emulate

Malcolm Francke, a Genius

In 1956, at the tender age of seventeen, Malcolm Francke walked into the Ceylon Cricket Association team for the then prestigious Gopalan Trophy clash against Tamil Nadu. Named after the legendary Madras all-rounder M. J. Gopalan and inaugurated in 1952/53, the annual encounter between the State of Madras (Tamil Nadu) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was played on a home and away basis till 1975/76.

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A Tall Order for ex-Kings

Sri Lanka’s bumpy ride to 2020 ICC T20 World Cup

Sri Lanka in 2020 ICC T20 World Cup

Sri Lanka: 2014 ICC World T20 Champions

Since the World Cup’s dramatic ending and with a glamour-less Test Championship in progress, the cricketing world has shifted its focus to the next big tournament. The global razzmatazz of Twenty20s will return with the seventh edition of the T20 World Cup scheduled for Australia in late 2010.

The top eight teams in the International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 rankings on 31 December 2018 have automatically qualified for the main event – the Super 12 stage. Full Members Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and six other teams who will make it through from the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier will compete in the first round to fill the remaining four slots of the Super 12s.

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Can Sri Lanka Add Another Feather?

Sri Lanka’s chances in the World Test Championship

Sri Lanka in World Test Cricket Championship

Sri Lanka’s Kusal Perera celebrates after leading the team to a famous victory over South Africa in a nail-biting conclusion to the first Test on 16 February 2019. (© Anesh Debiky/AFP/Getty Images)

The newest entrant to Test cricket Ireland had a magical first day in their maiden Test against the inventors of the game, at the Home of Cricket recently. Calling all the shots at the end of the second day, they needed just 182 for what might have been the greatest upset in the history of Test cricket. It was not to be, as on the third morning, they succumbed to 38 and lost by 143 runs! Despite the predictability of the outcome, the Irish did frightened England. Though Ireland will not feature in the inaugural World Test Championship that commenced last month, can their performance inspire Sri Lanka to another fairy-tale finish?

Sri Lanka boasts a credible Test record leading to the World Test Championship, surprisingly rosier than their white-ball cricket. Having played twenty-two Tests across nine series’ in two years; seven away and two at home, they broke even, winning and losing eight Tests each. Strikingly, six of the wins were away from home.

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The Ultimate Test

Preview of the inaugural World Test Championship

World Test Cricket Championship Countries

Cricket’s T20 razzmatazz is a great spectacle, enjoyed by both young and old. For many, however, its five-day version that test the players more than in any other ball game still remains the pinnacle of the sport.

Currently, the champions of Test cricket are decided by the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Test Team Rankings. These rankings are based on the results of games played as part of regular Test cricket scheduling with no consideration of home or away status. Unlike many other sports, home advantage has remained a distinct and enduring feature of cricket throughout its existence. That is precisely why teams like the 1970s/80s West Indies and Australia of the 1990s/2000s were recognised as all-time bests for their ability to win away from home.

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Dreams Turn To Deadly Drama

 

(© Ranjan Mellawa)

After many hiccups, my friend Jagath and I joined the line to enter the stadium in Mohali. It was an opportunity of a lifetime; to watch the live action of India–Pakistan semi-final at the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

At the first security frisk, Jagath’s eyes widened when the police officer threw away his 4-inch plastic comb. Though my green T-shirt with the Australian cricket crest had a somewhat “neutral” appearance, I smelled trouble from the word go.

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“We are the Champions” … pause …, “Again!”

Sri Lanka players celebrate as they pose with the ICC World Twenty20 trophy after winning the final match against India at The Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 6 April 6, 2014.

Nine o’clock, the morning of 6 April 2014, still in bed and staring at the ceiling. Emotions ran high.

“A penny for your thoughts,” said Jagath.

“After four ‘finals’ losses in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012, the benefit of the law of averages is long overdue,” I replied.

“They should give a fitting farewell to the twin towers, Mahela and Sanga.” This from Jagath.

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The Player of 1996 Cricket World Cup: Who Deserved It Most – Sanath or Aravinda?

Sanath Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva in full cry at the 1996 Wills World Cup.

Sanath Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva in full cry at the 1996 Wills World Cup.

Eighteenth March 1996.

The return flight finally took off from Lahore at around 6.00 am. An event that had to wait for twenty-one years happened 35,000 feet in the air. Two ‘wounded soldiers’ on adjoining beds at St Thomas’ Hospital, laid low by an excessively aggressive ‘Mr Thomson’ in the first World Cup in 1975 met in celebration: Duleep Mendis, having presided over the vanquishing of the Australian side as the manager of the Sri Lankan team; Capt. Sunil Wettimuny now flying that victorious team home. Not to be outdone, the same fate decreed that the master-of-ceremonies at the awards ceremony that followed the final, was none other than Ian Chappell. Destiny really did have some tricks up her sleeve!

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Cricket World Cup 2019: The Front-runners

Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga proudly holds aloft the 1996 Wills World Cup

Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga proudly holds aloft the 1996 Wills World Cup, which he received from the then Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, having beaten Australia in the final on 17 March 1996 at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, Pakistan. Master of Ceremonies Ian Chappell is at the extreme left. (Photo by Prasanna Hennayake).

England will host the 12th edition of the Cricket World Cup from 30 May to 14 July, this year. Ten nations would compete in the round-robin format, with the top four teams advancing to knock out stage, semi-finals and final.

At the time of writing, nearly all teams seem to have issues to contend with; that may or may not be overcome prior to the tournament. Hence, prediction of outcomes seven weeks before a high-pressure tournament is a challenge in itself.

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