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Sri Lanka-born Yohan Ramasundara 4th umpire today

Yohan RamasundaraSri Lanka-born Yohan Ramasundara will be the fourth umpire in today’s One-Day International between Sri Lanka and India at the Manuka Oval, in Canberra.

Ramasundara, (29) was born in Matara, and educated at Thurstan College, Colombo and migrated to Australia for higher studies in 1999.

At tpresent, he works for the Australian government and is a part-time cricket umpire.

"I always had a passion for cricket and wanted to be involved with the sport. Back in , my mother wouldn’t allow me to go for cricket practices as she thought it would affect my studies. After studies, it was too late to start cricket again and I took up umpiring," he told ’The Island’ on Monday.

Ramasundara, who took up umpiring seven years ago, made his first class debut last year when England played the Prime Minister’s XI in a warm up game, where he was the third umpire. Subsequently, he stood in Sri Lanka’s warm up game against the Prime Minister’s XI a fortnight ago and will function as the fourth umpire today.

"I was a bit nervous when I was called upon to do the Sri Lankan game. There were a couple of close leg before wicket shouts against Jayasuriya earlier on, and I gave him the benefit of the doubt and there was this one off Kumar Sangakkara, where he was trapped in front and I gave him out and it was quite tough to give out one of your favourite players," Ramasundara said.

The Sri Lankans players rate Ramasundara pretty highly and with age on his side, they believe he will go onto make the grade. (RC)

via The Island


February 12, 2008 Posted by | Sports, Sri Lanka Cricket | 2 Comments

So brightly fades our Matara Mauler

sanathIt was Graham Ford who first spotted the sign. ’Welcome to Sanath Country’ it boldly told us, and befitting of a champion, it was a massive hoarding with Sanath Jayasuriya’s face smiling back.

South Africa’s A Team of 1998 was on its way to Matara for a late afternoon net and as usual, Yahaluweni, the bus had been slowed to a crawl by the usual road congestion. It gave us all a chance to have a good look at the sign as well.

There is always something magical about the south coast. It has that ambience which makes up for some of the negatives, such as the hotel at Weligama. But if you want to be part of a team on tour, it is always a matter of accepting that at some stage you would need to rough it.

The ’Welcome to Sanath Country’ sign was still in evidence two years later when staying with friends close to Matara, it was a matter of hopping on to a local bus service and enjoying the ride with friendly residents, some eager to practise their English. It became a ritual. But that is the southern coast of the island for you, and we’ll return to that subject.

By 1998 though, he had become a big name and the South wore their heart on their sleeve when his name was mention. After all, had he not taken to the game he could have quite easily ended up fishing . . . Who knows. He’s such a down to earth guy without frills or big ideas. And as you quickly learn, there is a lot of passion about his play.

Our first meeting was at Centurion when he captained the Sri Lanka under24 side to South Africa. That was in early February 1993 and he was a low key all-rounder; the same could be said about his style of play later that year when South Africa made their first official tour and won the Test series 1-0. But the Sri Lanka under24 team had some big names: Marvan Atapattu, Muttiah Muralitharan and Romesh Kaluwitharana attempting to establish reputations.

For those who like their statistics, Murali collected 10 wickets in that game for 122 (six in the second innings for 62 runs). That’s not a bad effort at all and the prophecy of greatness already whispered in the pavilions.

On the 1993 tour there was a hotel at Koggala where the surf and birdlife as well as the stilt fishermen grabbed as much attention as that ’Welcome to Sanath Country’ sign years later. It was a very much laidback environment and tourist board types didn’t think there was any decent accommodation east of Galle. Why, the claim was how the famed Unawatuna Bay stretch of beach was as bereft of colour as a Geoff Boycott innings.

That’s quite interesting as in 2001, some of the Indian media guys were very keen to join us fortunate ones at UBR and sample the night life and jive to the DJ’s loud renditions of ABBA while breakfast was a matter of a dressing in scuba gear and spearing a few seer fish, or collecting some crab.

More seriously though, Galle and the South is genuine Sanath Country. Anyone who watched that inning of ninety six against South Africa before lunch on that first day couldn’t but help but marvel at his audacious strokeplay. Captain for less than a year through controversial selection after the 1999 World Cup fiasco, on that day in August 2000, he brought the full meaning if that sign into focus.

Dipping into the past, this is what was written on a website that I helped run here in Colombo all those years ago. It is well worth recalling some of that innings.

’Such was the rocket-propelled start by the Jayasuriya-Atapattu combination that Sri Lanka’s close of play score of 341 for five at 4.36 runs an over was a feast enough for anyone who enjoys the uninhibited style and flair of such attacking strokeplay. It gave lie to the thought that Jayasuriya no longer had the ability to revert to his 1996 World Cup formula.

Yet any side scoring at five runs an over by lunch on day one of a Test deserves some credit for such a remarkable effort; in these days of safety-first batting tactics it is seen as being more prudent to bat with sedate caution. Not that Jayasuriya is one for that sort of tradition.

’It is all a matter of sitting back and enjoying the batting capers. And it was more than just an attempted joy ride into the pages of batting history: it was an exhilarating exhibition of calculated aggression, skilled and forcefully flamboyant, bringing with it an air of buoyancy.

’It left us with memories of forceful and colourfully electrifying strokeplay possibly last seen during the Australia tour of 1995/96 and the 1996 World Cup, which was not so much taken out of the kit bag and brushed off as being forcibly hauled out and shaken off. It was a reminder that given the right stage, and against an imposing backdrop as the Galle Fort, of what can happen.’

Jayasuriya has always managed to entertain as well as change the shape of the limited-overs slogs. It became too his forte: the Brian Lara syndrome of ’Did I entertain?’ question asked when their former hero bid farewell to the Caribbean supporters as the West Indies bowed out of CWC07.

At Algeria, however, the Matara Mauler didn’t need to go through another pantomime of holding court to a media audience to mull over his retirement and talk about best moments and cherished memories. He had gone through that at the same shabby venue last year when told to retire. Already the latter part of his career had been partly blighted by injury and form and an impatient selection policy that in a sense pointed a nasty metaphorical gun at his Test career.

He didn’t need it then, but in his own mind, it was time and those of the selectors, knowing there is a long haul ahead of the side that had to get along without him. As England managed to do without Sir Leonard Hutton and Australia without Sir Donald Bradman, two genuine knights of the game.

Test retirement came possibly the right time yet watching him reel off six successive fours was the explosive counter punch that was good to watch – even if it was on television. His farewell Test innings also pushed his batting average up into the 40s where it belongs for an international batsman of his class. For a moment though, on Saturday, watching Yuvraj Singh plunder a Pakistan bowling attack, at Bangalore, brought back flashes of an earlier Jayasuriya model and his rapier style batting.

In some ways his retirement, even with the crowing victory by eighty-eight runs, was tarnished by the antics of the Asgiriya ’what’s in it for me’ mob. Serious questions now need to be asked about the fitness of the venue and those responsible and who turned the whole exercise into a farce to swell egos and fatten wallets. Tardy facilities for the general public, especially those tourists who spend money to go and watch the game and are then insulted by petty Kandy officials, give a bad name to the country. Visitors being seduced by scenery is one thing, but the Asgiriya venue has, as one UK contact who is on his third visit said, has now become an embarrassment. It is time Sri Lanka Cricket had this venue removed from the international calendar before the International Cricket Council step in.

Were security checks made about the general safety of such temporary covered seating? When it becomes a danger to spectators, as it did on the final day, it creates the sort of third world image of which tourist board officials are trying to avoid and might take note for future reference. Spectators need to be able to go and watch a game with some form of comfort without the worry of thinking about their injury insurance or forking out extra cash for unexpected injuries caused by the carelessness of officials.

As for the television commentary, Sky TV came to the rescue for with Russel Arnold not available for this series because of his commitments in India, the local production through Channel Eye was equally tardy. But suggestions that Arnold’s Indian Cricket League links might create a problem in preventing him from commentating, could run foul of certain labour laws.

At least Makhya Ntini will not need to worry too much about his future. Such is his popularity, that the xhosa speaking South African fast bowler is the most popular sports man of South African teen of all age groups and genders. For the third successive year he beat off wannabe heroes from other codes, and this includes some thugby . . . er rugby guy who won an international award for helping South Africa win that mugby world title.

And for those who have memories of last year’s Test series between South Africa and Sri Lanka, Dale Steyn, who did much to wreck New Zealand in that two-match series held last month, has collected 14 wickets in the SuperSport Series (first-class) for 110, helping Titans beat Free State’s Diamond-Eagles. Not too many bowlers have a CV which shows they collected three successive 10 wicket hauls in a season.

And finally, as thoughts also turn to Galle, it might be an idea if before the start of the third Test in this Investec series, if players and officials of both camps hold a two minute silence in memory of those who perished in the tsunami of December 26, 2004. It is the least that can be done, for as yet, there is no memorial for that tragic moment in time.


December 11, 2007 Posted by | Sports, Sri Lanka Cricket | 2 Comments

Steve Waugh shocked by Malinga’s axing

waughFormer Australian captain Steve Waugh has found it hard to understand why Sri Lanka left out what he calls the most potent fast bowling option (Lasith Malinga) for the first cricket Test now in progress in Brisbane.

Waugh believes that Malinga’s balls and style of bowling is unique to the team and feared the most by Australia.

"They (Sri Lanka) neglected to pick their most dangerous quick (fast bowler) Lasith Malinga who has the one attribute that caused Australia’s Ashes loss (to England), swing bowling", contends Waugh.

"Not only can he move the ball but he has real pace generated from an awkward low slinging action that takes time to adjust to and would have given the attack variety".

According to Waugh, Sri Lanka spent more time over-thinking on selections and analysed conditions too much.

Sri Lanka however defended the exclusion of Malinga in order to play Thilan Samaraweera as the seventh batsman.

"It was a team decision and it goes to show that Sri Lanka cricket is progressing with players (bowlers) to choose from", said vice captain Kumar Sangakkara.

Callistus Davy reporting from Brisbane for Daily Mirror

November 9, 2007 Posted by | Australia, International News, Sports, Sports News & Opinion, Sri Lanka Cricket, World News | 1 Comment

England came nowhere near to matching Sri Lanka

Callistus Davy reporting from Dambulla: As expected Sri Lanka took the upper-hand and made a terrible mismatch of the first one-day cricket international against England with a resounding victory here in Dambulla yesterday.

The defeat only extended England’s barren run of not being able to win a single one-day international in Sri Lanka for 25 years since triumphing in a contest way back in 1982.

England came nowhere near to matching the home team and even a simple performance by the Sri Lankans was enough for them to take cover and offer no resistance in the overall context of the game save some lusty blows from debut maker and opener Phil Mustard in the face of a 270 target.

maroofIt took just one Sri Lankan bowler Fervez Maharoof to single-handedly throw the Englishmen out of the game as he accounted for the top four wickets while the rest of the batsmen fought a losing battle. Maharoof the eventual man of the match said he relished the challenge of being introduced to the attack when Mustard was beginning to savour the bowling. “I was geared up and ready to go after them (England) and was quite happy to get the ball into my hands”, said Maharoof.

In the end it seemed anyone could have plundered wickets as England collapsed for just 150 runs with fifteen overs left in the bag.

England captain Paul Collingwood acknowledged that the start of the five-match series was unexpected but claimed it had taught them a lesson for the rest of the series.

“It was an eye-opener for us. The way they disguised the slow balls made it hard for us and this is something we have to look at. We believe we could still come back”, said Collingwood.

Except for some catches England got nothing right on the day as the Sri Lankans tuned up for the five-match series on a refreshing note after skipper Mahela Jayawardena decided to bat first winning the toss.

Openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga laid the foundation for what eventually became an unreachable target for England by scoring almost at will. The two, followed by Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara, had more runs for the taking and perhaps squandered the occasion as they offered some easy catches to lose their wickets.

October 2, 2007 Posted by | Sports | Leave a comment

Woolmer was murdered by strangulation

By Simon Evans

Murder claim rocks cricket showcase

KINGSTON, Jamaica (Reuters) – Jamaican police launched a murder inquiry on Thursday into the death of Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer at the World Cup, saying he was strangled.

The death on Sunday was “due to asphyxia as a result of manual strangulation,” according to a police statement read to a news conference at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston where Woolmer was found unconscious before he died on Sunday.

“Bob was a large man — it would have taken some force,” deputy commissioner Mark Shields said. “Hopefully we will bring the killers to justice as soon as possible. We will use every energy we possibly have to track down the killers.”

A day before the 58-year-old Briton died, leading contenders Pakistan were eliminated from the World Cup by debutants Ireland in a result which stunned cricket.

The sport’s governing body said the World Cup would continue despite the shock of Woolmer’s murder which has completely overshadowed the seven-week tournament being played in the Caribbean for the first time.


There was growing media speculation on Thursday that Woolmer had fallen victim to a “betting mafia.”

Asked about these suggestions, Shields said: “Everything you have heard would be a line of inquiry.” He said no stone would be unturned into discovering why Woolmer was murdered.

It was known that he was writing a book at the time of his death but its contents were unknown.

Shields said there could be one or more people involved in the actual killing but added that there was no evidence of forced entry into his hotel room.

The police have seized the hotel’s electronic security recordings as part of the investigation and are still awaiting results of toxicology and histology (science of examining body tissue) tests.

Pakistan team media manager Pervez Mir, told Reuters on Thursday that the security at the hotel was too “lax” in his opinion.


International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed said: “We face shock and outrage and great sadness for Bob’s family. There has been speculation that as a result of all this, the World Cup will be discontinued. That will not be the case.

“Perhaps it will be a measure of the game and its resolve as to how we can complete this World Cup in view of this shock.”

He said the former London Metropolitan Police commissioner Paul Condon was standing by and willing to assist with the murder inquiry. Condon has been involved with helping the ICC fight corruption within the sport.

Shields added that the Metropolitan Police, South African and Pakistan forces had been contacted over the investigation but so far the Jamaican police were working solely on the case.

The Pakistan cricket team, who flew from Kingston to Montego Bay within Jamaica earlier on Thursday, said they were shocked by the latest development.

“Tragic, yes, worrying yes, because we have a member of our team, a national coach of Pakistan who has been murdered and this is not something which can be taken lightly,” Mir told reporters. “We are all very worried right now.”

March 23, 2007 Posted by | News, Sports | Leave a comment