Bright eyed Havies Pull Off The Ultimate Heist Over Navy

Talk about a comeback of epic proportions. With the investment of theirs in mainstream presentation as a gaze around ground would tell, Havelocks SC forged a folkloric rearguard to seize a match 22-20 against Navy SC who had remained unbeaten with the home side till yesterday.

The revolution was complete when Samoan born-New Zealander Atuviu Niva sent the ball through the uprights in the maddening final minutes of the game after Lee Keegel had located a hole in the repelling Navy defence to tie the scores.

A tale of two halves it was. Navy put the squeeze on Havies to claim the wind that put their ship on a cruise in the first half which rewarded them with 20 unanswered points. But a more clinical and psyched up version of the hosts nailed them in the end.

The start couldn’t have been starker from the finish as Havies monopolized possession and made no inroads in the first 10 minutes including two fluffed penalty attempts by Mohamed Sheriff. Navy then began to exhibit signs of something developing and the Fijian center Ratu Taniela opened the scoring showing the Havies the worth of a calm head. Dev Anand supplemented with the conversion but before the thrill of the try could wear off Navy captain was yellow carded for a high tackle by referee Aruna Rankothge.

Havies took the safe bet and was punished for the leniency when Sheriff completed his trio of doomed kicks at the target. Then Anand struck with a trademark drop goal from 30 metres and before Havies could use their lungs, Setafano Cakaunivalu-who played the match after overcoming an injury worry- blazed through the middle to plant a try which Anand had no heartache in converting.

Taniela zipped a 45 metre penalty before the breather to hand Navy a heavy cushion of 20-0 and whatever dressing down-which must have included some stern words-Havies got at the half time began to unravel. First it was in form winger Sandun Herath near the corner flag in the 45th minute and next Sheriff compensated for his sins in the first half via a dashing 20 metre run which cut the deficit to 10 with 25 minutes remaining.

Navy had realized this was far from over from then on and the defence was increasingly turning into a bridge too far to cross. But the sniff came when Sumedha Malewana was shown a yellow card and spurred by the man advantage; Dushmantha Priyadharshana went over for the third try to the utter shock of not only Navy fans but the Havies’ ones too who were marvelling at the fortitude.

As it turned out, Keegel took whatever smile there was on Navy faces to polish off the game and the visitors had forfeited a lead from a unbeatable position.

After the refurbishment of Havelock Park though they had dandled with CH&FC, this was the match that told a revealing anecdote. This is a Havelock’s side that’s setting their sights on bigger and richer prizes, namely the league. The controlled celebrations at least told so.

Sri Lanka Premier League – At What Cost?

For any corporate entity that is exerting itself to scale new heights, imaginative and profit based reflection is of paramount importance. If its heart beat is normal, daring to be bold by taking risks is one of the principle aspects of a successful organization. What if it’s clamouring to get back on tracks after a continuous period of torment due to a crippling financial clout that’s been generated because of woeful mismanagement?

That is exactly where Sri Lanka Cricket finds itself in. A hosting of a World Cup that was marred by allegations of fraud and corruption and having to plead for assistance to hold their heads above water, Sri Lanka Cricket’s newest course of action-Sri Lanka Premier League- reeks of carelessness and not learning their lessons. While it’s egotistic and artificial glamour was on full display at Cinnamon Grand last Monday during the launch, the fact that SLC’s treasurer Nuzki Mohamed’s inability to disclose the estimated cost of the tournament threw away all the sugar-coating to keep it’s ills under wraps.

For a minute with the positive goggles on about the SLPL, think that it’s for the betterment of the game in general. Then considering the reconstructive state it’s in, you have to assume the governing body will take the safest routes to conduct the tournament. A mere wink at it is enough to see that’s not the option they are taking forward. Somerset Entertainment Ventures CEO, Sandeep Bhummer while being soft-spoken and impassioned about what he said came across as a man retaining a genuine love for the game. But is it that enough to completely neglect the fact that his organization gravely lacks experience in holding a tournament of this magnitude?

He had to admit they haven’t seen prospective events before in the past two years since being formed to put their heart into, so does SLPL which hit a rock bottom last year when it had to be unceremoniously postponed last year tick all the incentive boxes? The phrase that was used to describe the slam-bang event was a ‘carnival.’ From the way it was unveiled, there was no doubt where this was heading into.

Amidst all the eye-candy dances, ambassadors, the papare bands, theme songs and mascots what’s written in the stars can’t be hidden. T20 tournaments such as these are over-cooked, too familiarly featured and hence have overstayed its welcome. It has threatened to inflict irrepressible damage in its heyday to Test cricket but has failed miserably. But that’s not the point. These types aren’t the exception anymore. It has been tried by every board with a penny in variable proportions and most often it has proved to be downfalls.

Coming back to the apportioning ratio of foreign players, if you take Big Bash, T20 tournaments in England, West Indies or South Africa apart from the IPL, they hardly give that much space for ones who board planes. While the popular notion that IPL won the World Cup for India is laughable at best as they are finding out by the dwindling tv ratings and the good bye kiss to the No1 ranking in Tests. Sri Lanka has been there and thereabouts in world tournaments as of late with destiny holding them back.

Sri Lanka’s system is a unique one which touched in its own value can’t be found anywhere in the world. SLPL wont harness it is as clear as daylight but the head honchos at the office may need firsthand experience to see the light.

While national captain Mahela Jayawardena’s speech gave a layer of caution and it created lot of sound, it does not need to be looked beyond than its means. Not even Kumar Sangakkara’s MCC themed one. They did what they have to do. As eloquent speakers and to escape the inevitable needling by the media present as to what benefit SLPL would have on Sri Lanka Cricket, they had to take the safe route and sound the warnings of the negative side of it which would quell any bouncers coming their way.

This is not to completely run down SLPL but a warning light as to the lack of back-up plans by the SLC. Negativity doesn’t come without logic; it’s raised by the judgment of past records.

To put it in a perspective, an organization trying to revive from the clutches by using the marketable value in a questionable sphere, the disputable and clouded history of the SLC, the disputable track records of who are involved with, a league with lot of riddles in principles, the lack of risk freeness and whether it’s the need of the hour. Too many question marks for the time being.

Don’t expect it to be any less in the times to come with the way things are shaping into.

The Island Link- Sri Lanka Premier League- At What Cost?

Pic courtesy of Dimuthu Premaratne

Royal Cling On To Finish On A High

Royal College smothered a second half recovery from a lively St. Thomas’ College outfit to retain the Michael Gunaratne trophy 34-24 for the seventh consecutive year at Royal Complex in Colombo yesterday.

Both sides had been in dreadful form coming into this annual encounter having lost important matches and after a long time it wasn’t between two ‘A’ Division sides since St. Thomas’ had relegated to the ‘B’ Division last year. The favourites Royal gave a hard time to the Thomians in the first period but their second half woes appeared again and the visitors somersaulted into a foray that had the holders in a raid with action-packed fleet-footed play.

Royal opened the scoring through a Nimshan Jayawardena try which was converted by Rimze Jamaldeen. Banuka Gamage and new addition Sachin Unamboowe found access to the Thomian try line to take the total to double figures before Devin Jayasinghe addressed the zero on the scoreboard with a penalty. Royal pressured further amidst some lazy ball control from Thomians and Ravishan Dassanayake went over in the stroke of half time to breathe easy at the breather having secured a protectable 24-3 lead.

Thomians came back knowing they had nothing to lose and began to express themselves with some fine running play which had Royal in a pickle. Royal improved the lead to 29-3 almost immediately after the interval as Shuayb Muthalip put the exclamation mark to a purposeful move which was started by Ijaaz Bohoran. Then Supun Hasthimuni put to bed Thomian fears of having to go back to Mount Lavinia without a five-pointer and apart from a Royal try by Eroshan De Alwis which came off a familiar rolling maul, it was all St. Thomas’ after that.

They lacked cool heads in the final phases which brought play back and cut short invaluable time but inspired by stunning play by Aalij Jawwa, they had Royal in dire straits for most of the final twenty minutes to the vibrancy of jubilant visitors. This was expected as Royal Achilles heel of the season has been this dicey time frame. Jayasinghe continued to provide heavy punts and Randhika Alwis assisted his fly half’s work by going over.

Jawwa was in full flow by now and it was his expressive run which gained over 30 metres that was the foundation for the third try. Hasthimuni took a quick tap from referee Pradeep Fernando’s whistle to shock Royal defenders who had no time to move and Jayasinghe put over a magnificent kick to keep Royal at bay. The game was having its full effect on Royal as lot of players went down injured and with three key players playing no part in this match due to injuries, it was about hanging on which they did.

The Michael Gunaratne trophy was presented by Tissa Gunaratne in a wheelchair which added a nice touch to the presentation.

The Island Link-Royal Cling On To Finish On A High

English Premier League-The Sri Lankan Touch

Football is a passion. For some it is life. Those factors and many more polarize opinions and add gloss to arguments. English Premier League is currently the best football league in the world and its popularity is unmatched around the world so much so that its divine touch hasn’t sneaked away from the geographical fringes of Sri Lanka.

Social networking is pigeonholed as evil for its alchemistic effects on tailoring human philosophies, the way they act and time wasting but it can have its benefits. The group English Premier League Fans Of Sri Lanka is a fitting example.

“I have been a Liverpool fan for a long time but I didn’t have a proper way to share my thoughts and ideas about the team and the game I loved so much. As a method of collaboration the group was created in 2007 and initially had a boring start. But after 5 years it has now has gone over 1000 members and is currently a very active group online.” Says Vajira Abeyratna, the creator of the group.

In the early days Sri Lanka was deprived of access to EPL but the introduction of cable has seen a dramatic rise in the numbers which has frozen into the pageantry of EPL. The group which is five years old went a step ahead in organizing a friendly football tournament at Lalith Athuladmudali grounds in Kirulapone. Mostly themed as a meeting up for the members of the group, the football taste was supplemented via the event where six teams Busby Babes (Manchester United), The Pensioners, Roman’s Legion (Chelsea), Anfield Warriors (Liverpool), Arsene’s Faithfuls (Arsenal) and Rest Of The EPL participated consisting of its supporters.

Abeyratna, who is in his final year at La Trobe University in Melbourne and an ambassador for LTU’s Future Students Center had this to say about the tournament which was won by the Manchester United side. “The idea for the tournament came from a few members in the group. After seeing the positive and encouraging comments for the competition we decided to have a pilot 7-a-side tournament as a stepping stone for a bigger tournament for December. With a great attendance rate and large number of positive remarks, the tournament proved to be a massive success. Our next tournament to follow in December will include more teams, more matches and even some sponsors.”

The group includes four administrators from each club and The Chelsea representative Ranga Perera, assistant Manager at Mclaren’s group and who has watched Chelsea play in Malaysia remembers the group’s early days. “I joined the group back in 2008, back then there were only a few Liverpool fans, but now there are fans of various teams with the majority supporting the top EPL sides. I have learned so much about football after joining this group by discussing football with fellow members and the quality of discussion in the group has increased with the influx of new members.”

“At a time when football was not so popular among the Sri Lankan crowd, EPL fans of Sri Lanka provided the perfect platform for football fanatics like us to meet each other and share our views. After all these years we’ve become very good friends even though we indulged in never ending arguments over the years.”

voices Manchester United Administrator and University of Moratuwa graduate, Sunera Kulasekara.

Football can divide nations and if used in an intelligent way it can connect communities too. EPL fans in Sri Lanka certainly belong to the latter league.

The Island Link-English Premier League-The Sri Lankan Touch