Monday Night Wars I- New World Order is Born

The block that opened the wars was-Ted Turner’s trust he had in Eric Bischoff. It was Bischoff who brought up the idea of staging their own version of a wrestling program on Monday Nights to challenge the imperious status of WWF Monday Night Raw. Turner agreed to let Bischoff loose and WCW Monday Nitro was born in September 4, 1995.

It premiered in TNT as a one hour program and quickly expanded into two and then three hours. The first gun fire was the capture of Lex Luger who left WWF to join WCW and the stunning sequence of television mastery began when WWF’s women’s champion Alundra Blayze turned up in WCW Nitro and threw the belt to a garbage can which was a slap in the face of WWF. But still WWF had the upper hand in terms of ratings and this prompted Bischoff to unveil more tricks. One of them was to start the show himself and tell the worldwide audience the results of the rival program. This was possible to due to Raw being a taped program while Nitro emanated live. Vince McMahon were not to be outdone as he composed parodies of Turner and well established names of WCW and aired them after commercial breaks but it was short-lived as USA network insisted WWF to stop the nasty tactics.

Bischoff was quickly exploring more ways and began to realize that some revolutionary will only help turn the tables on the ratings. He thought long and hard about his prized acquisition Hulk Hogan and a way to present him in a perspective that would shock the world. The idea came to him while attending a New Japan pro wrestling show. The concept was to create a storyline where WWF wrestlers would invade WCW (storyline vise) and generate havoc endangering the origin of the program and threatening it to go to ground because of the lack of control which the rival group would cause. But the original idea of specifically dubbing the invaders as WWF cast were cut down and they decided to call the group as NWO (New World Order). To inject the severity of the situation, propaganda-style vignettes and product commercials concerning the nWo were preceded by an “interruption in the feed”, and a voice proclaiming, “The following announcement has been paid for by the New World Order” were aired during shows.

It all started on May 27, 1996 when Scott Hall showed up on WCW Nitro and delivered a promo targeting Bischoff and the company. Those words are immortalized in wrestling history as the ‘You Want A War’ promo and its success is considered as the one of the primary reasons for the evolution it preceded. While that was for the long term prosperity of the storyline what many were amazed at was how Hall had the capacity to be on a WCW program as he was a WWF employee at that time and that it was legitimately impossible to appear in another show while being contracted. That doubt of protected intimacy towards a real life situation and the realism of it was the pillar which worked in favour of the whole storyline. To stretch the plot even more, Kevin Nash showed up next week and they were called ‘The Outsiders’. In truth what had happened was both Hall and Nash’s –Razor Ramon and Diesel respectively in WWF-had expired and WCW kept it as a secret to thicken the mystery surrounding it.

Their request was for a three man tag match. It was to be Hall, Nash and mystery partner vs the three of the best WCW could put on the table. Bischoff was slated to have a segment in WCW’s next pay-per-view, The Great American Bash, with the Outsiders and where he promised to give the craved match at the next pay-per view, Bash at the Beach, but he would refrain from naming his candidates. This angered Hall and Nash and the segment ended with Nash power bombing Bischoff and they continued those gang-style attacks by appearing out of nowhere during matches and decimating wrestlers. According to the storyline they were not contracted to the company and hence were illegal which was furthered when every time they instigated an attack security guards would chase them away through the crowd.

So on July 7, 1996 the match was booked for Bash at the Beach. The vocal crowd who gathered to the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach would never have had any idea what they were about to witness. Actually, they about to witness arguably the greatest moment in the all of professional wrestling history. Near the beach of Florida, the setting was so natural and the outdoor feel was captivating.It is a shame wrestling no more hosts beach events. The match was called the ‘The Hostile Takeover Match’ and Lex Luger, Sting and Randy Savage was in the WCW corner.

The whole world was anxiously waiting to find out who the third man was for The Outsiders but Hall and Nash made their entrance without another man. They told they partner was in the town and he’ll come when he’s ready and that they should start the match without more time wasting. During the first half of the match Luger got pummeled by a Stinger Splash from Sting inadvertently which was intended for Nash and he had to be stretchered off. After sixteen minutes of action all four men remaining knocked each other down with still no sign of the mystery partner. Since Luger was injured WCW had the opportunity replace him and whoever representing two parties came first had the chance to gain the upper hand. The scene and everybody was at a standstill and suddenly befitting of the occasion the biggest name of the industry-face Hulk Hogan came walking down to the ring. Everybody and their moms were expecting Hogan to clean the house and get rid of this menace known as the Outsiders.

He climbed the ring steps, entered the ring and did his customary shirt removal. Hall and Nash shamed like they had seen a ghost and it was the end of their endeavor. Then Hogan threw the shirt at them and delivered an earth shaking leg-drop to Savage. The audience was in disbelief as their hero for so many years had betrayed them. The thunderous applause at the beginning turned into an utter silence as if they had electrocution.

Then three of them beat down Sting to a pulp and Hogan delivered two more patented leg-drops to make it three on Savage to symbolically destroy the kill the ‘face’ Hulk Hogan. The ring filled with trash as disgruntled and shocked fans threw everything at them.

Bash at the Beach finished and the ‘Hollywood’ Hogan and the NWO was born.

 

Trash filled ring at Bash at the Beach as Hogan speaks to 'Mean' Gene flanked by Scott Hall (L) and Kevin Nash (R)


References- Prelude To Famous Monday Night Wars- I

Prelude To Famous Monday Night Wars-II

Prelude To Famous Monday Night Wars-III

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Hurricanes Either side of Bright Sunshine in South Africa

There’s two ways of looking at the freshly concluded Test series between Sri Lanka and South Africa. Either toast the historic first Test victory in South African soil or rip the two defeats either side of the bright sunshine in Durban. While having no intention of papering over cracks, the unassuming surprise in the 2nd Test must go down as a special moment in the annals of a relatively short history of the cricket in island compared to other Test countries. There were no expectations to leave Proteas downcast at any point in this series and for that sincere fact alone, the first leg of the expedition can be coined as a success.

Without being shabby, it isn’t fallacy to ascertain that the joy brought more lessons than the emptiness of the defeats. The bowlers again conclusively demonstrated that it was the failings of their more illustrious partners in the order which resulted in this barren run after the Galle Test against India. When they have the cushion of a gentle smile from the scoreboard, there’s no need of Lasith Malinga and that they can stand on their own. Paradoxically, it was Malinga’s retirement from Test cricket –whatever morally wrong that decision was and how many hours the managers of his were singing to his ears– that acquiesced a prolonged spell for Welegedara’s and Herath’s without the shuffling that a predictable injury to the slinger could cause. And Welegedara and Herath has paid back for that confidence.

Probably even more than the country itself, the man who was elated the most after that momentous Durban evening has to be Thilan Samaraweera. And he made sure he didn’t lock it inside the Durban hotel by piecing another century in Cape Town –an unprecedented feat for a select handful group in South Africa. There’s no need to dwell upon the dull ways of the band of current selectors as everybody is well informed of it by now. It was ironic that Samaraweera went searching to the past to conjure this effort for these compilations had all the dogged characteristics which made him such a tough defence to dislodge. Those forays in his early years, where he tested bowlers’ patience to the hilt by grinding them closer to suicide, come to mind.

The first thing Sri Lanka did at Cape Town meant they were trying to ship the advantage away. It was an outrageous decision to bowl first just to cover any deficiency they had in their minds when considering the high note they had sung three days ago. There was no need to be cautious knowing too well there was no pressure on their shoulders and all the missiles were firmly aimed at the opposition in case failure.

Maybe it’s time for Tillakaratne Dilshan to say good bye to the role nobody wanted after the World Cup to save his flagging career. And it’s deserving that if he decides to leave, there’s a tick in the win column which he can reflect proudly about. It’s a foregone conclusion now that if not for the canopy of captaincy he wouldn’t be in the team. His scarcity for runs is alarming and if it can be solved via the removal of the skipper hat then so be it.

The limited-overs leg got off to the most traumatic and hair-raising start it ever could have and although there’s leniency to be had in the longer version, there shouldn’t be any sympathy for the continuous struggles in 50-over cricket. This is the team which has the tag of World Cup runner-up –how much that measures up to is debatable examining the feverish submitting Indians are doing currently– and they have belied that reputation quicker than Andy Murray has disappointed British people.

Three winnable series have been gifted on a platter and this highway ride needs to be obstructed. Quick.

The Island Link- Hurricanes Either side of Bright Sunshine in South Africa

 

Captain Marvels 2011 School Rugby Season Review

Royal-2011 Unbeaten League Champions

Trinity’s Murad Ramzeen, Royal’s Shehan Pathirana, Isipathana’s Prasad Devinda all had one thing in common during last year’s school rugby season. They were the central hub of which precipitated the success ridden routes for their respective outfits. Royal surged to the second Singer A division title in three years not least with an unblemished log in front, Trinity snapped up President’s trophy with a trio of optimum class performances and Bradby on the back of a ruthless exhibition of power rugby in the second leg and Isipathana winded up the first half of the season illustrating that their game might be evolving back to those past glories.

It may be intricate to cull who the better man was -Ramzeen should be as the Bradby and President’s trophy victories and having the luxury of captaining Sri Lanka youth side to the exotic stream of Junior rugby Asiad at Hong Kong would wave in admittance – but there was no overruling the fact that all three of them felt satisfied at the end of an unpredictably splendid six months.

There’s nothing that depicted Royal’s strength in their marathon run towards being crowned unbeaten league champions than their seemingly uncanny dexterity to hit back after taking a nosedive and ice-flowing bodies they were in crunch and liable situations to crumble. Isipathana, Wesley, St.Peters’ and Science were all examples of those traits which are sure to please coach Asanga Rodrigo but the only black ink has to be the smashing in the return leg of the shield. In a landscape where both Trinity and Royal consider the possession of the Bradby as pivotal compared other inferiorities that defeat will rankle-especially after the intend laden effort in Kandy a fortnight ago- the minds but the unbeaten league would at least smother the broken hearts.

Isipathana’s runner up positions in both premier events highlight the confidence that coach Viraj Prasanna always put forward when articulating the prospects of his team and Devinda was the architect of many a rides they pieced throughout the year. The twinkle-toed runs of wingers which Isipathana was renowned for made an appearance and it was somewhat cruel that what ceased their challenge in the President’s trophy final was the dislike to keep hold of the ball. Last year has given them an encouraging start so that they could brainstorm about this year in optimism filled frame of mind.

Science’s tale of the tape in 2011 was remarkable as much as it was a true reflection of determination. After only a court case could cement their existence in the top flight, they went on a crusade to prove to everyone the justification of their instillation. And prove they did. Science coach said that this was a statement and that they intend to continue this revolution. With St.Thomas submerging to the II division, Mount Lavinia has an animated and sprightly ambassador to fill the void for now.

Science showed as much resilience and enterprise in their play as the SLSRFA (Sri Lanka schools rugby football association) was weak in organizing the President’s trophy-League champions Royal pulled out, scheduled opening match met it’s crescendo as Thurstan pulled out at the eleventh hour handing a walk-over win for Isipathana- and the promise that they’ll take tough stances to prevent hiccups this year augurs well. It may have already being put to practise as for the first time in sometime all three divisions will have ten teams each which safeguards the analogy that has been visibly lacking. As for now to profess that there’s room for improvement is no fallacy.

Trinity-Bradby and the President's trophy winners

Match of the year- Royal vs St. Peters’ at St.Peters’ college grounds, Bambalapitiya.

A scoreline of 51-40 invites deception for there’s daylight between the two sides in terms of scoring but with during the final 10 minutes, St.Peters’ was leading by two points and was seemingly on their way to break the unbeaten streak of the visitors, but a missed penalty surrendered the advantage which otherwise could have sealed the match and Royal looked back in anger with two tries in the late drama. The atmosphere was deafening, passing rugby vintage and the result was humdinger. It was characterized by the obsession of both teams to hit back whenever there was the slightest hint that the match was slipping away from their grasp. No spectator left the open entourage of Bambalapitiya glum-faced.

Trinity- was without opposition to it- the best side of the year on paper but it began the season in the most capable way of squashing those early predictions as Science pulled the giant-killing act to full effect and then lost the first leg of the Bradby in jumbling fashion. The omens weren’t good and it was to their credit that they took the wind out of the sails of Royal with the famous rout at the complex. The signs were there, they were warming to the task at the fag end and it was summoned when Trinity precisely dismantled Dharmaraja, St.Peters’ and Isipathana in dismissive semblance to pocket the knockouts trophy after a lapse of 19 years.

The power-packed performances were a treat and the way the players and the coaching staff embraced coach Neilfer Ibrahim after the final whistle amidst the fading lights at Royal complex on the first day of October portrayed how much they wanted this to happen.

It wasn’t the most sunlit evening in Colombo and familiar Lion which Trinity skipper carries to the ground may have been deprived of the usual sunburn of a trip to the capital from the cooler climates of Kandy, with two victories to be rejoiced for years to come at the complex this year, not that he was complaining though.

The Island Link- Captain Marvels-2011 School Rugby Season review

 

 

 

Tim believes an air of excitement beckons for American Football in Sri Lanka

The heavens have opened up and it’s pouring down in Colombo. But that doesn’t foil a sturdy batch of athletes from training at Thurstan grounds. These men have history at their doorstep, to be the first Sri Lankans to have cuddled American Football. While i eagle-eye from distance, one man wearing a nike black shirt and shorts towers above them all. Not because of his size, for being the centre of attention of all the others. He won’t find the frisson of a NCAA game in the outcast here but he’s all pumped up when he meets me after a long day’s activity.

Tim Sirinivasan,21, is a Sri Lankan who changed locations in 2003 and excelled in America’s most sought after sport. He has played as a wide receiver and a running back for eight years. He’s the player cum coach of Colombo Lions which will represent Sri Lanka in the EFLI(Elite Football League in India) in its first season which starts in late 2012. ” I’m from Batticoloa and i left for USA in 2003. From the moment i saw the sport, i knew this was what i wanted to do for the rest of my life. I lived in Virginia and played for my high school team, then i was recruited to play in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and i lasted there for four years. Dilroy Fernando, CEO of EFLI in Sri Lanka is the one who i’m in contact with so it’s an honour and a priviledge to be part of this wonderful project and help my country to acclimatise to American Football.”

Sri Lankans seldom know the structure of the sport so he sags towards the basics. “It’s little bit similar to Rugby. You have eleven men on each side. The offence and the defence. To be basic, what the team on offence tries to do is advance the football down the field which is 100 yards long while the defence unit strategize to prevent them from doing so. If you advance the ball to the end zone then it’s worth six points with a point on offer for a correct conversion. What’s cool about this game is there’s different tactics to advance the ball.”

Tim Sirinivasan

American football is an urban emperor of sorts which has relegated more prestigious and known sports in America like Baseball, Basketball, Ice Hockey to Lieutenants and Colonels. TV ratings for the games in America are unprecedented and Tim says it’s hard to pinpoint an exact reason for its sudden rise . “Football started over 100 years ago in America. Recently with the tv telecasting, huge sums of money being invested into the sport it has grown be the most popular sport in the states. It’s not just a game in America now, it’s a culture. You could say Football in America is equivalent to Cricket in South Asia.”

Cricket, it is. So how does he picture a bright future for this newest invader? ““It’s going to take time to for the sport to grow. But i think with a sport like football anybody can pick up its energy and begin to enjoy it in no time. Most of all its exciting and the playing time is short which makes it easier for people to slot it into their schedules. Luckily the league will be telecasted from its very first season which is a massive plus point. And the matches will be played at nights. A game finishes in one hour so it won’t take that much effort. I’m pretty sure that South Asia will quickly catch up on it because if you have seen it on television it’s so obsessive. Once you love this sport that feeling won’t leave you.”

How’s his time among students so far been? “It’s being two weeks. I visited my grandmother who’s in Batticoloa. Then i shifted to Colombo take up this task and it’s been an experience. These players are really humble and they are quick learners. I think this has the potential to be one of the best teams in the EFLI. If you want to be the best you got to have potential within you and i see it right before my eyes.Who knows there might be a Tom Brady (quarterback for New England Patriots), a Tim Tebow( quarterback for Denver Broncos) or a Peyton Manning (quarterback for Indianapolis Colts) here.”

CEO of EFLI Sri Lanka, Dilroy Fernando speaking at the press conference held at Cinnamon Lakeside to launch American Football in Sri Lanka

Early 2000s brought drug scandals to sports and it didn’t evade NFL either. “There used to be a problem with players having access to drugs. But now it’s not possible because you are drug tested. Get tested positive for a banned substance and you can’t play. When these tests came to effect players stopped doing to it. If you can’t play, you can’t earn money which means you can’t eat.” Tim says with a smile.

Finally asked what his goal is, his answer maintains that touch of unsophisticated Sri Lankanness. Having played Football in USA there’s competency if he wants to be arrogant. ”I would like to be a coach. Come to Sri Lanka and help spread knowledge about this game through NFLI. “

Hardly a sign of diverting from his prevalent self-effacing and modest attitude. After all he’s Sri Lankan.

English Premier League 2011/12 Preview – It’s City Time

If the last season proved to be the most gruelling battle for the Barclays Premier League title since its birth with five teams waging war for the supremacy till the end and the competitiveness of the other clubs proving to be the catalyst for astounding unpredictability, with the little ordeals of new players, managers rocking the equilibrium, this season promises to be an even tougher horse race.

Here’s a look at the six clubs barring a miracle-miracles doesn’t occur in a league, do they-which will challenge for the title.

Arsenal

Turmoil and stubbornness are two words that go hand in hand and those can aptly describe Arsenal’s plight so far. Many fans have already turned on Arsene Wenger and if he continues to be the retired principal in the transfer market which is set to end on August 31, many more will follow. In a summer where bolstering the defensive flimsiness should have been the priority, Wenger has done nothing but to be entangled in a futile war to thwart two of his best players from leaving. Cesc Fabregas has already left and Samir Nasri has no intention of renewing his contract which is set to expire next season so keeping him brightens the prospect of a free transfer.

Nasri has made it clear that he wants to leave to win trophies and that should be a slap in the face-more powerful than Gervinho’s dished out to Barton last week-for Wenger. He hasn’t done anything of note to squash Nasri’s concerns and after being linked with host of defenders-including Chris Samba, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka-has backtracked citing various innuendos. As he has admitted buying youngsters and developing them is one thing but the problem is if you don’t win anything those same players are going to betray you for gold when they are developed. This is exactly why pocketing Juan Mata and Jadson would have made a difference and continually living in denial won’t help Arsenal this season.

Summer Arrivals- Carl Jenkinson (Charlton Athletic), Gervinho (Lille), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Southampton)

Players to watch-

Robin Van Persie-The new captain, if he’s fit is still the most feared strikers in the world.

Aaron Ramsey-Fabregas’s departure means Ramsey will be fast tracked and by the trails so far he’s capable of setting the world alight.

Wojciech Szczesny-Another of Arsenal’s woes, goal keeping, is on his shoulders and although suspect at times, technical vice Szczesny showed signs of the authority last season.

Prediction- 4th

Chelsea

Blues have been surprisingly low key in the transfer window penning two deals and it has to be due to the January high profile captures of Fernando Torres and David Luiz. Instead Chelsea has ridden on a collision course to acquire the services of former Porto manager Andre Villas-Boas. Owner Roman Abramovich’s dementia towards Champions League made way for Carlo Ancelotti’s sacking and the request from Villas-Boas should be the same. So in this jigsaw puzzle where does Premier League find itself is hard to detect but with an aging all the same ultra talented squad in possession it isn’t hard to visualize Boas plotting a master plan.

One thing which could culminate Boas’ future has to be how he slowly builds a youthful squad and from the signings he has made it is handily vindicated. But the stranglehold of some of the players who have resided in London ought to test Boas’ mettle. Since he is equal in age with Chelsea’s senior players it could haunt him at crisis situations and there’s a fair chance he could find life more taxing at London than the idyllic streets of Porto.

Summer Arrivals- Thibaut Courtois (Genk)-loaned to Atletico Madrid, Oriol Romeu (Barcelona)

Players to watch-

Fernando Torres-Staggering £50 million price tag on his shoulders and a petty previous season to compensate, if his pre season form is any indicator Torres is set to terrorize defenses.

Daniel Sturridge- Showed Chelsea what they were missing during the drab period at Bolton scoring 8 goals in 11 appearances and effectively punched his way into be an active blues member. Ousting Drogba and Anelka from their perch should be his dream.

David Luiz- Other half of Roman’s January emperors, Luiz, unlike Torres has warmed the hearts already. A magnificent display against Manchester United cemented his place and the exuberance and vigour he brings will be welcomed by his manager.

Prediction- 3rd

Liverpool

It seems strange to pit Liverpool among title contenders after the horrendous first half they endured under Roy Hodgson but it’s testimony to the turnaround of events at Anfield piloted by the favourite son Kenny Daglish. A host of midfielders have flooded to the extent where consigning has to be near impossible but knowing Daglish’s shrewd tactics he will have a trick up his sleeve.

But it’s hard to be not critical about Liverpool’s pre season shoddy defending as they have shipped goals at an alarming rate. It’s hard to envisage but it seems Daglish has forgotten about his back line and only is he coming to realization. Jose Enrique from Newcastle has landed but such is the demands of clubs these days grasping another would be a herculean task and for all the weaponry up front, the brittleness at the opposite could have a bearing. If attack is the name of the game, then there’s nothing more potent than Liverpool currently.

Summer Arrivals- Jordan Henderson (Sunderland), Charlie Adam (Blackpool), Steward Downing (Aston Villa), Alexander Doni (AS Roma), Jose Enrique (Newcastle United)

Players to watch-

Luis Suarez- Suarez acclimatizes to life at Anfield like a duck would to a pond and with Copa America winners’ medal in the cupboard; he would be desperate to hunt down more.

Charlie Adam-dressed with a wicked free kick and the pint up frustration at not being able to keep Blackpool in the top flight, Adam is seeking vengeance with his new home.

Jose Enrique-He won’t have to worry about Newcastle’s deals anymore through twitter, Liverpool is the ideal place to advance his La Roja ambitions.

Prediction- 5th

Manchester City

‘The noisy neighbour’ as their more illustrious pals across the town would like them to be known, through all the hype what misses the eye is that City is a steady work in progress. Player unrest and jolted squad could be pointed to the contrary but in modern environment, a vocal group who does the job in the field is a better pathway than underperforming while keeping the displeasure to them. Roberto Mancini has been a superb advocate in man-management deviating the moot points with silken touch.

They haven’t spend that much also this year apart from the potential swap for Carlos Tevez in Sergio Aguero and their route to the top of the mountain is as steady as a beating drum. With FA Cup in the kitty already setting sights without a modicum of doubt on the League is Mancini.

Summer Arrivals- Gael Clichy (Arsenal), Stefan Savic (Partizan Belgrade), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Costel Pantilimon (FC Timisoara)

Players to watch-

Sergio Aguero- “I’m the Che Guevara of modern football” He may have denied making the comment but he’s indeed capable of living up to it. After all Diego Maradona gave her daughter to him not for nothing.

Joe Hart- If penning a new 5 year deal is any indication, toppling Hart from City custodian could be a distant dream. Blessed with a masterly supportive back line, he is destined to carry the English NO1 feather too for a long time.

David Silva- For all good things there’s a creator and Silva is that. His control of the ball and powerful pinpoint accuracy is what sets him apart.

Prediction- Champions

Manchester United

Each season falls and every time there’s the familiar face of Sir Alex Ferguson. He’s been the boss at United so long that it’s tough to contemplate an Old Trafford without him and from the pointers he has no intentions of hanging up either. United has to come to grips with three of their legends in Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Edwin Van Der Sar retiring and Ferguson has opted for the youth. So there’s unbridled potential but however crash landing isn’t a non-option either.

People have been up in arms with the criticism of David De Gea, but with a reputation to harness giving him more cushion would be preferable. Injuries have also blighted Ferguson’s well laid plans and the trust he has entrusted on the youngsters and how they respond could very well decide their title challenge too.

Summer Arrivals- Phil Jones (Blackburn Rovers), Ashley Young (Aston Villa), David De Gea (Atletico Madrid)

Players to watch

David De Gea-As they say ‘one swallow doesn’t make a summer’ and expect De Gea to cement his place with a fruitful first season at the helm.

Ashley Young- If he creates the same passionate acrobatics as he did at Aston Villa last season, with no disrespect to Darren Bent, with Wayne Rooney and co ready to pounce, Young could more mature with tick of the clock.

Nani- Champions League final snub was the catalyst for the speculation that he might break the contract but as he has shown during pre-season, Nani’s not taking anything other than to enchant the ‘theatre of dreams’ faithful.

Prediction- Runners-up

Tottenham Hotspur

If Harry Redknapp’s staunch stance on shipping away Luka Modric to Chelsea is any indicator, he is consciously trying to build a team. But what blots the paper is his desire to land the England job when Fabio Capello retires. It can’t work both ways, Harry. Coupled with that he hasn’t blossomed his striking power yet and haven’t pulled off a marquee signing apart from allowing some breathing space for his defenders by penning Brad Friedel.

There’s talk of Samuel Eto or Emmanuel Adebayor residing in White Hart Lane and it is crucial that one of them do. Fading away at the tail of last season had lot to do with the labour that was Champions

League and it is interesting to witness what they can come up with without the away flight routines of the Europe’s premier club competition. Because their talent bank account is something to be envy of.

Summer Arrivals- Brad Friedel (Aston Villa), Christian Ceballos (Barcelona), Souleymane Coulibaly (Siena)

Players to watch-

Luka Modric- Chelsea interest is not unwarranted, Modric is that good. If the much fantasized move doesn’t materialize, expect Modric to be the better man and light up EPL once again.

Rafael Van Der Vaart- The Dutchman was the main beneficiary of last year’s somewhat lopsided move and sometimes you do know what you get as in the erudite move of Van Der Vaart.

Brad Friedel- For a contingent born and bred with the enigma that was Gomes last year, Friedel would be the much needed drizzle to the drought.

Prediction- 6th place

Relegation prediction- Expect QPR, Blackburn and Wigan to go down a step.

Original Link-

English Premier League 2011/12 Preview-It’s City Time

Dear Kepler It Does Not Pay To Be Rude

Sri Lankans are overjoyed after securing a historic first test win in South Africa at Durban

For a man who padded up to labour at the top-order for not one but two countries, you would think the greatest certainty of cricket – its uncertainty is implanted after the every hard-noised breath consumed in the middle with hostile contemporaries. Such were the heights of rejection that Sri Lanka endured, after being written off well before the tourists had even set foot on the rainbow nation. It may come as a nasty shock as to how they found the will to pull this history-maker off in Durban the other day, but you are ought not to, had you been not out of loop with the fascinating semblances of Test cricket mustered around the world this year.

Going by the recent calamities Sri Lanka had to stomach, Kepler Wessels could well have surmised its premature downfall and embroiled in the intimacy for ego-driven foretelling he forgot how shallow Proteas’s home record was as of late. It’s an age-old strategy manipulated by cricketing foes to get into the mind of opponents to undermine and dismantle them verbally and the sequel was they had their scope to back up the words literally in the field.

The problem with Wessels was he was rooted to a far away commentary box and hence the error in his ways and the smoke and mirrors. In a comical way South Africans may have cursed Wessels’s asinine punctuality for arousing a sleeping giant and Sri Lankans for the better should thank him for inadvertently coaxing them to tick another box in an ever decreasing paper of foreign countries conquered where only Australia and India remain not ticked. It’s testimony to the underlying, but deep-rooted and indomitable strength Sri Lanka possess in the game that they managed to achieve this at the most unexpected time where the most utopian optimist was casting a pall over.

Kepler Wessels

This win doesn’t in any way erase the cumbersome patch of results in the post World Cup season. But what it has done is become the culmination of goodwill of trials and tribulations and be the perfect analyst of Sri Lanka’s slow recovery from the hangover of the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan. So many voices have clamoured that our bowling is club quality, that Tillekeratne Dilshan is the worst captain Sri Lanka ever had and so on and so forth while living in denial to the places where it needed treatment.

Sri Lankans after being humbled at Centurion must have felt like sitting under that Damocles’ sword with criticism coming their way quicker than a tunnel train although the critics should have been conscious of the fact that every team in the sub-continent tend to kill time to adapt to seaming conditions. Captaincy was not something Dilshan chased and he was the first captain to throw the dice without the services of the highest Test wicket taker in cricket. Probably due to pressure he lost his form which enabled him to top the charts for wielders in the World Cup. How ironic is that probably the most valuable Test win after The Oval 1998 was achieved with him at the helm?

To be frank, he could not just throw the ball, sit back and enjoy the joy ride and the bowlers had to come out of an 18-year-old shadow to fulfill the role of wicket takers, not set-ups. A transition tougher than many think and those unlucky souls weren’t privileged enough even to receive home decks with purchase in it to aid their ailing cause. One which had at Galle became hated by the ICC as much as they are helpless in the topic of DRS and slay down by the own countrymen for the genuine fact of Sri Lanka losing.

In the latest excursion at Durban, the pitch offered spritely support; venom and bite for the bowlers and critically batsmen brought up totals which could be defended and the final image belonged to the visitors celebrating a magical victory. There lie lessons to be learnt in abundance about the way forward.

Boxing Day Test provided contrasting cup of teas for selectors of Australia and Sri Lanka for John Inverarity led Aussie panel’s observing glasses were studious to retain scrutinised duo of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey which proved the difference while Duleep Mendis led counterparts’ blind insistence broke to pieces like a house build from plasticine as the late curve ball of the inclusion of Thilan Samaraweera and his subsequent hundred spoke his own story of the negligence that should be shown to the age over performance debate.

Thilan Samaraweera celebrates his century

Dinesh Chandimal displayed the guts, Dilhara the fire and Herath the lionhearted warrior that he is. This was a team effort with the orchestration of that burly mercurial fighter Geoff Marsh and it brought to pass with Kumar Sangakkara’s ascendancy to the all time greats of the game with a century that -after being shelled early- flowed with the assurance of a world-class insurance. Statistically he needs to compose centuries in West Indies and Bangladesh to complete the collection but with being a pivotal part of Sri Lanka’s first Test win in South African soil being the latest feather in his cap, his legacy is already cemented. There’s lessons to be learnt -first one being the patience that is wanted in meshing a team from the scratch- for this win to be not just a New Year gift on the fly, but the paddock to a sustained leap to where Sri Lanka belongs.

When someone goes up it’s bound to come down and if not for any helping hand, gravity does it already. It’s the mission to go up that requires cooperation and it’s the least aided of the two as the Sri Lankan cricketers have found out conspicuously during this taxing transitional time period which could have grown them older and wiser ahead of time.

Hence why, this historic triumph is all the more sweet.

The Island Link-  Dear Kepler It Does Not Pay To Be Rude

Hello world!

Welcome All You Fine Folks To Sportsholic.

My first project of the new year-which is blogging as you all know by now. Here i will post pieces i have done so far-new and past, so hope you will enjoy this space. All these articles are ones which were published in The Island newspaper.

First and foremost i want to thank The Island Sports Editor Mr.Rex Clementine.Without him i wouldn’t be in this profession.

So starting from today i’ll post on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s something from my collection of pieces.

You can use or abuse the comment option because i welcome friendly discussion and different opinions. Add to that a small request. If you associate with sports loving fans please add them to the group. I would be very grateful.

Finally,Wish you all lovely Ladies and Gentlemen a slobber-knocker of a year!