Trevine Rodrigo

SRI LANKA CRICKET…WHERE TO FROM HERE? –
BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

 

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Trevine-Rodrigo

While the world looks on and hope that Sri Lanka cricket will return to where they once belonged, the team stumbles and bumbles along looking for fluency and consistency that was once a trademark of their flamboyant style which made them entertaining and riveting to watch.

Of course, the top teams at the moment would like them to remain where they are because of their enviable record since gaining Test status in 1982. The successes they have achieved since then far surpasses many other countries who have been in the top bracket for far more years with little to show for it.

 Definitely not suffering from a lack of available talent, the Sri Lankan dilemma appears to be centered around the current structure and administrative input which has taken them back to the dark ages when they were whipping boys to the rest of the world.

 Losing a top coach in South African Graham Ford due to reported political meddling appeared to spell doom and gloom to the islanders but fortunately or dare I say questionably they managed to net another top-class coach in Chandika Hathurusinghe whose drawback may be that he is home grown which may yet have a detrimental effect on how he goes about his duties if he is not given a free hand.

 Knowing Hathurusinghe and his fierce determination to prevail over adversity in order to succeed as he did when Sri Lanka discarded him as an assistant coach where he went on to great things in Australia and as Bangladesh coach, it may not be long or surprising, before he abandons a lost cause if things don’t go to his plan.

 Since Hathurusinghe took over the reins, the islanders have recorded limited success mainly due to inconsistency and lack of experience within the squad and compounding their plight has been the failure of the experienced brigade such as Skipper Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera and a few others with the only reliable player, former skipper Angelo Matthews plagued by injury and unavailable more times than not.

 The fitness and physical preparation of the team also appear questionable judging by the ins and outs of players which also affects team gelling.

 Currently in the West Indies and staring down the barrel of yet another hiding in the 3-Test series, Sri Lanka’s plight can only get worse in the daunting encounters ahead of them against the top rungers of the game whom they encounter unless they can unravel a dramatic turnaround to their fortunes through consistency and a more committed approach.

Sri Lanka were thrashed by 226 runs in the first Test in Port-of-Spain.

There appears to be a fair amount of talent in the existing pool but exposure and perseverance at the initial stages particularly among the younger players may play an important role in establishing a team of world beaters. Youngsters Dananjaya De Silva, Kusal Mendis and Dilruwan Perera must be persevered with until they get to the next level while Matthews and Chandimal try to re-discover their lost momentum.

 Blessed with a rich cricketing culture and a deep history in the game, there has to be successors to their legends of the past that have won worldwide admiration such as Aravinda De Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga, Asanka Gurusinha, Sanath Jayasuriya, Romesh Kaluwitharne, Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas and a few others who were themselves successors to some fantastic players such as Michael Tissera, Anura Tennakoon, Sidath Wettimuny, Roy Dias, Duleep Mendis, Ranjan Madugalle and Rumesh Ratnayake just to name a few, when they made their initial foray on the world stage.

 The above-mentioned players were fiercely competitive with controlled aggression which in many players around the world is the ultimate catalyst to producing champions not just in Cricket but any sport.

 Cricket, like Sevens Rugby is to Fiji, is the only sport that Sri Lanka are able to compete on an even keel with the best in the world. So, their focus should be on nurturing what they have got and being the best at it.

 Sadly, at this stage the cavalier globetrotters of the recent past are nowhere close to their desired goal.

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Pressure Drop in fantastic form at the Walawwa as we bid adieu to our friends Sampath and Surakshi Siriwardena as their holiday in Australia came to a close. Galadari’s General Manager showed us his other talent on stage alongside classmate Kelvin Speldewinde and wife Vanessa.

Click here or on the photos below to view the full set of photos on eLanka Facebook

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GWS, PORT ADELAIDE, HAWKS AND SWANS LEAD THE WAY IN ROUND ONE – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

 

GWS, PORT ADELAIDE, HAWKS AND SWANS LEAD THE WAY IN ROUND ONE

BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

Get ready for another season that is supercharged with heart stopping action as the 2018 AFL competition has clearly shown after round one, and there is already every indication that it will be anyone’s premiership much like it has been over the past two years.

Jumping out of the blocks and looking the goods this year are underachievers, Greater Western Sydney, Port Adelaide and reigning premiers Richmond who will have Geelong, Essendon, Hawthorn, Sydney and perhaps Adelaide and Carlton breathing down their necks.

I mention the Blues because of their plucky opener against the reigning Premiers whom they gave a torrid time to before the arm wrestle petered out in the final quarter.

While Geelong can count themselves lucky to be on the winners list against a dominant Melbourne whose inaccuracy and the Max Gawn shocker with seconds to go in front of the sticks cost them a win they surely deserved, Adelaide found that being in the Grand Final last year did not impress the emerging Bombers who dug deep to overcome a last quarter 20 point deficit and turn it into a 12 point win for their jubilant long suffering fans at Etihad Stadium.

Former three-time premiership winners Hawthorn were impressive in their first hit out completely shutting out Collingwood before running out 34-point winners and giving Magpies coach Nathan Buckley plenty to digest as he hangs on to his role as coach for a make or break compelling year.

GWS Giants were ruthless in their demolition of 2016 Premiers Western Bulldogs with an 82-point thrashing and Port Adelaide announced their intentions for this season with an imposing 50-point win over Freemantle while Sydney left West Coast with bitter memories at their new Stadium in Perth beating them by 29 points.

St. Kilda also showed signs of improvement and backed the confidence of coach Alan Richardson that they would be contenders this year with an impressive 25-point triumph over the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast proved better mud larkers to outplay North Melbourne in atrocious conditions in Cairns.

It certainly is a long road to the finals but with the modern game played at breakneck speed and the injury toll likely to be the determining factor, the depth of talent of each team will ultimately decide on who will emerge at the pointy end of the season as the weeks ahead will unravel.

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Rousing debate rages on Aussie ball tampering – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

 

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Trevine-Rodrigo

As the furor of the Australian ball tampering saga reaches a crescendo the brave ramifications handed out by Cricket Australia has shaken the game to its foundations for its severity.

There is a mixed response from cricket followers worldwide many who question the lengthy periods on the sidelines for at least two of their best cricketers in the world. And others say it is the best thing to happen if the game is to be rid of cheats who bring the game into disrepute.

Cricket over the years and administrators including the world governing ICC have been accused of double standards depending who is in the firing line. And the ICC’s continued slap on the wrists punishment in this instance is viewed as another attempt to look at things from a marketing perspective rather than one that maintains the game’s integrity.

Whatever the circumstances that are considered before punishment for misdeeds is handed down it is in the vital interest of the game that the administrators have a control of any situation without fear or favour or their lack of it will only diminish interest and following by the general public who are the ultimate sources of income to its survival.

As the findings and interviews have now been completed by the banished trio from South Africa there is still a lingering hostile reaction to David Warner’s stubborn mentality and refusal to admit that he may have been the mastermind if the dastardly act.

When the wind blows over the whole sorry episode and calm is restored, Australia will always be viewed with a questioning eye by cricket followers worldwide and the shame of it will never go away.

But what needs to happen in the interim is the need for forgiveness and support to Smith and Bancroft in particular as they negotiate the ramifications of a silly mistake that has magnified their immaturity and shortsightedness in the events of day three at Newlands.

The shattered and broken Australian former skipper is in dire need of counseling for a period as he collects the pieces of a destroyed reputation and tragically, when he was in the midst of plaudits from around the globe for his magnificent performances with the bat that has him rated as the number one in Test cricket.  His actions since gaining captaincy has been questioned on more than one occasion in India and a few other occasions.

But Cricket Australia were steadfast in their defense of him instead of reining in what has now become the biggest scandal the game has witnessed and turned a tide of opinion against the team from the Prime Minister to other former players who donned the Baggy Green with distinction.

The fierce rivalry between the two nations is another case in point where the history of current South African skipper Faf Du Plessis who was sprung twice and shamed for similar ball abuse and Vernon Philander once, was always going to be a ‘get even’ thing if the Aussies dared to overstep the rules governing the game. And, shamefully and foolishly they did.

It is rumoured that there will be appeals against the lengthy bans imposed on them. But appealing will be foolish if they expect to rush back into a game they have brought into disrepute not just for themselves but the country as well.

Riding the crest of a wave as a brilliant batsman and leader despite many questioning his immaturity when selected to lead Australia, Steve Smith has proved that his style of thinking outside the box does not necessarily apply to methods of winning which led to his downfall. This, in a country brimming with talent and unlike many other nations, never needing to look far for handy replacements.

What now needs to happen is for Australia to re-evaluate their style and intimidator approach which has been the instigator of personal exchanges between them and their opponents leading to the desperate mindset to win at all costs.

Cricket Australia can take credit for the severity of the bans they have imposed and try to recapture the faith and respect of the rest of the world which up to now have regarded Australia as the benchmark for all things cricket for many decades.

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SHAME, SHAME, SHAME, AUSTRALIA –
By Trevine Rodrigo (Melbourne)

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Australian Cricket hit new depths with the ball tampering scandal in South Africa and any excuse to cover up the happenings in the African sub-continent will only worsen the way the ‘gentleman’s game’ will be looked at from now on after their unsavory instigation that dragged the sport to its lowest ebb.

 By Stephen Smith’s and Cameron Bancroft’s own admission to using desperate and extreme measures to change the course of the game, there is now a storm enveloping one of the most popular sport in the world putting the ICC under the pump to deal with it with the full force of its power to ensure that it will never be tolerated in the future.

 The Australian ploy to gain unfair advantage over the South Africans is unforgivable as much as it will be a stain on Cricket for its entirety. What Smith and his ‘leadership group’ were thinking is unfathomable in the face of the realistic fact that these days even the substance from blowing your nose can be viewed and analyzed by the number of cameras installed at various points of venues worldwide to deter players from indulging in what the Australians were sprung for. The damning video footage of Bancroft’s actions was there for all to see in one of the most amateurish attempts at cheating.

 How they envisaged getting away with it is as puzzling as it is dumb to say the least and whatever respect the team has been regenerating after a lean spell from their fans has now been shattered to a point of no redemption.

 It also throws a cloud over their recent Ashes success over England and what could have transpired and may have gone undetected by a more professional ball tamperer seeing how amateurish Bancroft’s efforts were.

 After years of players being indicted for similar offences worldwide, it is a bitter pill to swallow for the Australians who usually perceive themselves to be role models to the rest, always finger pointing others defects and supposed unlawful tactics.

 It was a black day for Australian cricket and for the game itself sadly setting the worst example for young and aspiring players who will think it is ok to cheat and that winning was all that matters.

 The obvious reaction to this sorry episode will be to sack Smith, Bancroft, Warner, and coach Darren Lehmann, (if he was aware of what was going on), and the leadership group with heavy sanctions to go with if a clear deterrent is to be executed for future offenders.

 It is understood that there will be life bans on the players influencing the decision to cheat.

 The focus has sharpened on Smith and Warner, after it was clarified that the lunchtime discussion did not involve the full “leadership group,” which has also featured Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon, but was instead undertaken by “senior players”.

 Cricket Australia and its administrators are under the microscope for their reaction to the goings on and James Sutherland and Pat Howard who have flown in to South Africa to gather all information before reacting to it will be judged for their decisions that will leave long standing repercussions for future offenders.

 The CA chief executive James Sutherland also issued a public apology to Australian followers of the game, with the Board at a delicate point in the multimillion dollar television rights negotiations for the next five years with the Nine, Ten and Seven networks and the pay television network Fox Sports.

“To our Australian Cricket Fans, we are sorry,” Sutherland said. “We are sorry that you had to wake up this morning to news from South Africa that our Australian Men’s Cricket team and our Captain admitted to conduct that is outside both the Laws of our game and the Spirit of Cricket. This behavior calls into question the integrity of the team and Cricket Australia.”

 “The decision made by the leadership group of the Australian team to act in this way is clearly contrary to the spirit of the game, risks causing significant damage to the integrity of the match, the players and the sport itself, and is therefore ‘serious’ in nature,” the ICC chief executive David Richardson said. “As captain, Steve Smith must take full responsibility for the actions of his players and it is appropriate that he be suspended. The game needs to have a hard look at itself. In recent weeks we have seen incidents of ugly sledging, send-offs, dissent against umpires’ decisions, a walk-off, ball tampering, and some ordinary off-field behavior.

“The ICC needs to do more to prevent poor behaviour and better police the spirit of the game, defining more clearly what is expected of players and enforcing the regulations in a consistent fashion. In addition, and most importantly, Member countries need to show more accountability for their teams’ conduct. Winning is important but not at the expense of the spirit of the game which is intrinsic and precious to the sport of cricket. We have to raise the bar across all areas.”

The match referee Andy Pycroft said he hoped Bancroft would learn from the episode. “To carry a foreign object on to the field of play with the intention of changing the condition of the ball to gain an unfair advantage over your opponent is against not only the Laws, but the Spirit of the game as well,” he said. “That said, I acknowledge that Cameron has accepted responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty to the charge and apologizing publicly. As a young player starting out in international cricket, I hope the lessons learned from this episode will strongly influence the way he plays the game during the rest of his career.”

 

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Blow hot, blow cold Sri Lanka dumped from Nidahas Trophy – India and Bangladesh meet in Colombo final BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

Tensions simmer between Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi players in Colombo

Bangladeshi cricketers infuriate Sri Lankans with their ‘snake dance’ as they storm into the final in Colombo.

Sri Lanka’s euphoria after their Bangladesh triumph has evaporated as quickly as it hit them on their return home when they were dispatched in emphatic fashion from final of the Nidahas Trophy T20 triangular by India and Bangladesh in Colombo.

All the excitement and hype surrounding their success in Bangladesh was soon put in perspective by the ‘monster’ created by Sri Lanka’s new coach Chandika Hathurusinghe whose former chargers refused to be pushed down from the status he took them to after his departure.

Bangladesh have blossomed as a force in world cricket thanks to the guidance of many Sri Lankans during their infancy.

But that romance has since died after Sri Lanka’s recent tour to Bangladesh where tensions rose, and a new Asian rivalry formed on the back of an unhappy coach who left them due to some reported backbiting by a few disgruntled Bangladesh players.

While Hathurusinghe’s distraction appears to be his former team, he should have paid more attention to his current chargers and mainly on their batting consistency which evidently deserted them in a riveting final encounter between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to decide on who plays India in the final.

Tensions arose when Sri Lankan players uncharacteristically became physical against a Bangladesh substitute performing water boy duties and things became heated to a point where Bangladesh unknowingly nearly forfeited the game by attempting to stage a walkout in protest. These are scenes unfamiliar in Sr Lanka’s short cricket past at Test level and hopefully never repeated if the true spirit of the game is to be upheld.

The push and shove, as well as the umpire’s refusal to award a no-ball, then tipped Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan into a fury. Shakib, along with several team-mates, immediately rushed to the edge of the boundary, where he entered into a heated exchange with reserve umpire Lyndon Hannibal. Shakib then beckoned Mahmudullah and Rubel Hossain off the field, luckily for them the batsmen appeared very reluctant to follow those instructions, and ambled half-heartedly towards the boundary as many of the Sri Lanka fielders looked on. Eventually sanity prevailed and Shakib relented and play resumed after the fracas had delayed it by several minutes.

Sri Lanka have only themselves to blame for their complacency obviously resting on the laurels of an away triumph against the same team. The lessons learnt from their setback is that there are no handouts given for lack of application as the batting by their mainstays clearly suggested.

While India and Bangladesh battle for top honours in Colombo, its back to the drawing board for the emerging Sri Lankans who will get better with experience and consistency.
Their next assignment against the West Indies for a three-Test series in May followed by the acid test against top notch South Africa in July at home could be the indicator of how they handle their destiny.

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Bangladesh winners Sri Lanka in 2018 – By Trevine Rodrigo (Melbourne)

Sri Lanka’s stunning turnaround in Bangladesh has restored some confidence in their fans and if the ensuing T20 triangular involving India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in Sri Lanka goes by the script a second place to India will attest their steady incline.

Realistically, the Sri Lankans riding the crest of a wave after their clean sweep in Bangladesh, could have made the world sit up and take notice if they won this home Nidahas T20 tri- series after a comfortable win over arch rival India in the first game. But their new expectations received a jarring reminder that none of their opponents are easy beats as Bangladesh went on to prove by humbling the hosts in their own back yard.

This was followed by a loss to India in the second game and Sri Lanka now have their fate in their own hands needing to beat the Bangladeshis in the final Round Robin game to make the final against the Indians who clinically dispatched the Bangladesh side in their two encounters.

What has been heartening for the Lankans is the form of Kusal Janith Perera and Kusal Mendis who have been the backbone of their revival.

Under new coach Chandiika Hathurusinghe the Lankans have also learned to believe in themselves, an important ingredient in finding success. The bowling which by the best world standards is ordinary to say the least has however found a balance that can restrict teams to gettable totals depending on the conditions and the tracks laid out.

Sri Lanka were dealt an unkind blow in the series with the two-game suspension handed out to skipper Dinesh Chandimal for a slow over rate. But his absence may yet prove to be a blessing in disguise as it opens the door to another in-form batsman or all-rounder due to Chandimal’s recent returns been mediocre to say the least.

With the Champions Trophy, Asia Cup and World Cup tournaments looming, Sri Lanka needs a hurry up to re-establish their status as a team to reckon with rather than making up the numbers alongside the minnows of the game.

Time will tell if they are able to climb back up to that level that made them once an irresistible focus on the world stage wherever they played.

 

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Trevine-Rodrigo

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Marlon Amarasekera bids adieu to Australia – Photos thanks to Trevine Rodrigo (Melbourne)

Marlon Amarasekera bids adieu to Australia after a memorable musical tour at the Walawwa in Melbourne. Music with Marlon and Cameron Colombage and Cherrie Chamarie with B Sharp. Great send off organized by Michael Prins and Walter Perumal to a sellout crowd.

Please click here or on the Photos below to view the full album of photos on eLanka Facebook page

 

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