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Sri Lanka to battle West Indies in opening test 

Sri Lanka and West Indies will contest in a Test series in the Caribbean for the first time in 10 years with the two teams meeting for the first Test at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad today (06).

Sri Lanka's touring side 10 years ago, captained by Mahela Jayawardene, claimed their first ever Test win in the West Indies as the series was shared, while they arrive on this trip in terrific form, in which their only defeat in their last seven Tests was away to top-ranked India. But, their preparations for the upcoming three-Test series in the West Indies have been hurt with the absence of batsman Dimuth Karunaratne and fast bowlers Dushmantha Chameera and Nuwan Pradeep to injury. Also, promising No 3 batsman Dhananjaya de Silva - who has hit four Test tons in his first 13 games - has rejoined squad, but is unavailable for the first Test, a fortnight after his father was shot and killed outside their family home.

Dhananjaya's father, an elected councillor at the Dehiwala-Mt. Lavinia Municipal Council, was gunned down in Rathmalana on May 23 - the evening before his son was originally due to fly to the Caribbean.

Devon Smith, meanwhile, is back in West Indies Test squad after an absence of nearly three years. The selectors have also called up the uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman Jahmar Hamilton for the first Test at Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Thirty-six-year-old Smith last played a Test during England's 2015 tour to the West Indies, where he averaged 23.25 across his four innings. The left-handed opener averages only a fraction more, 24.50, across his 38 Test matches to date.

This is first time Sri Lanka will play more than two Tests in the Caribbean, with the second Test scheduled for St Lucia and the final match in Barbados set to be the first-ever day-night Test in the West Indies. 

Sri Lanka squad:  Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Akila Dananjaya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wkt), Asitha Fernando, Lahiru Gamage, Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Kusal Perera, Kasun Rajitha, Roshen Silva, Mahela Udawatte, Jeffrey Vandersay.

West Indies Test squad: Jason Holder (capt), Devendra Bishoo, Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich (wkt), Shannon Gabriel, Jahmar Hamilton (wkt), Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Devon Smith.

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Sri Lanka in danger of losing a Test on Windies tour

Next month’s tour of the Caribbean by Sri Lanka could be reduced to two Tests, Sri Lanka Cricket has said.

The tour is currently scheduled to be three Tests but SLC chief executive Ashley de Silva said a Test could be replaced by One-Day Internationals, because of financial strain on Cricket West Indies.

“Most probably the boards will reduce the number of Test matches to two, and play a couple of one-dayers,” de Silva was quoted as saying. “CWI are going through a bit of a crisis. They have been talking to us.”

On the current itinerary, West Indies and Sri Lanka face off in the opening Test at Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad from June 6-10 before heading to St. Lucia for the second Test at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground from June 14-18.

The final Test is a historic day/nighter at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.

It is widely known that the tour is not expected to be money spinner, with the cost of staging the matches outweighing projected revenue. West Indies are ranked ninth and Sri Lanka, sixth, leaving the series as an unattractive prospect for broadcasters.

Sri Lanka are due to leave for the Caribbean within the next week but De Silva said SLC remained in contact with CWI over the matter.

“CWI are experiencing a really challenging financial year as they only have home series scheduled against us and Bangladesh,” de Silva said.

“They have been talking to us about sharing the costs of the tour and at this stage they haven’t given us any indication that the tour might get postponed altogether.”

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Sri Lanka Cricket announce new selectors

Sri Lanka named a new selectors panel for the national cricket team on Monday (04), after gambling allegations against the sport's national board president prompted government intervention.

Accordingly, Graeme Labrooy was appointed as the Chairman of Selectors together with Gamini Wickremesinghe, Eric Upashantha and Jeryl Woutersz acting as members. Head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe, who was named as the selector on tour, will round out the 5 member committee. 

The sports ministry stepped in to manage the Sri Lanka Cricket board last week, after an appeals court suspended elections for the presidency to consider whether incumbent Thilanga Sumathipala should be allowed to contest the ballot.

Sumathipala has been accused of alleged links to gambling in breach of International Cricket Council regulations. He denies any wrongdoing.
Sports Minister Faiszer Musthapha announced the new selection panel after Sumathipala's mandate ended on May 31. The court has suspended elections till June 14 at the earliest, with no fresh date confirmed for the vote.

Former Test bowler Graeme Labrooy remains chief selector, while former Test player Eric Upashantha made his debut on the panel.

The new selectors will have to name a squad to host next month's tour by South Africa who will play two Tests, five one-day internationals and a one-off T20.

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Mathews, Lakmal declared fit for Windies Tests in June

Chandika Hathurusingha has brought in Victoria’s Tim McCaskil to help sort the team’s injury concerns. 

Angelo Mathews
Former Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews and fast bowler Suranga Lakmal have been declared fit for the upcoming Test tour of the Windies, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) announced on Thursday.

The two cricketers had been named in the 17-man squad for the three-Test series earlier, but their participation was subject to them passing a fitness test. The test was carried out this week and both players have been cleared.

Mathews has been out of action for the past four months after picking up a hamstring injury during Sri Lanka's tour of Bangladesh in January. He had recovered from it but missed the Nidahas Trophy at home against Bangladesh and India in March after having picked up a calf injury during training.

Chandrika Hathurusingha
Chandika Hathurusingha believes Sri Lanka can win their first Test series in the Windies/ICC.

Lakmal, expected to lead the Sri Lankan pace attack, had picked up a side strain. He, however, is likely to play only two of the three Tests as the team management is concerned about his workload.

With the team grappling with injury issues for a while now, Sri Lanka have sought the services of Cricket Victoria's High-Performance Manager Tim McCaskil to work with the bowlers.

“I wanted to get Tim's expertise. He is more of a fast-bowling bio-mechanics expert. He took a look at our bowlers' mechanics,” Chandika Hathurusingha, the Sri Lanka head coach, was quoted as saying. “He went through all the bowlers. He had studied footage before he had come and he was prepared.”

Emphasising on the need to modify the bowlers' training as well as strength and conditioning regimes, Hathurusingha said, “We went through what our bowlers need to do. What stage they are at. Whether they need to change anything. Or if we cannot change, what are the areas that we need to strengthen.

Suranga Lakmal
Suranga Lakmal is expected to lead the Sri Lankan pace attack in the Windies/ICC. 

“We have to modify their training or do strength and conditioning. That was very successful. When we get back to Colombo, Tim is going to sit with our medical staff and discuss how to go about things.”

Sri Lanka will leave for the Caribbean at the end of May and will play a three-day warm-up game in Trinidad before the first Test begins on 6 June in Port of Spain. The second and third Tests will be played in St. Lucia and Barbados, respectively. The Barbados Test will be a day-night affair.

Sri Lanka have never won a Test series in the Windies, something Hathurusingha sees as ‘motivation’ for his team. “That's a motivation for us. That's something that we can look forward to,” he said. “We are preparing well. The outcome is something that we cannot control. If we do what we are capable of doing and adjust to conditions sooner, we can overcome the challenge.”

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Hashan Tillakaratne appointed as Sri Lanka’s new Under 19 coach

Sri Lanka Cricket yesterday announced the appointment of Hashan Tillakaratne as the new coach of the Under 19 team. His appointment is effective until the next Under 19 World Cup.
Tillakaratne, who was once the batting coach of the Sri Lankan team is a qualified level 2 and 3 Coach (ICC Global).
His most recent coaching role was working as the 'Head Coach' of the Galle Team, who became the Champions of the four day contest of the Super Provincial Tournament 2018 and the finalists of the Limited Over contest of the Super Provincial Tournament 2018.
He was also the 'Head Coach' of the Galle Team, who became the runner-up of the Super Provincial Limited over Tournament 2017.

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Second British rugby player dies on tour in Sri Lanka

A second British amateur rugby player has died on tour in Sri Lanka after struggling to breathe following a trip to a nightclub. 

Tom Baty, 26, and Thomas Howard, 25, were admitted to hospital in the city of Colombo on Sunday while on tour with Durham-based Clems Pirates RFC. Howard died that same day, while Baty’s death was announced by the club on Tuesday afternoon.

Durham City Rugby Football Club, which oversees the team, said in a statement: "It is with great sadness that the Club can now confirm that Tom Baty has died following his admission to hospital on Sunday.

"We would like to extend our sincere condolences to the Baty family."

The two players, who were both from Durham, complained of breathing difficulties to hotel staff at around 10am on Sunday.

Sri Lankan police said some British players had visited the city’s Cleopatra nightclub after a match, before returning to their hotel in the early hours.

Durham City RFC previously said that in both cases the breathing problems were non-rugby related.

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Pitch-fixing allegations difficult to believe: SLC 

Sri Lanka’s top cricket administrators say it is difficult to believe allegations of pitch-fixing in a 2016 test match against Australia which have triggered a probe by the International Cricket Council (ICC).The ICC launched an investigation after a documentary aired by news organisation Al Jazeera on Sunday showed a groundsman agreeing to doctor pitches for test matches involving some of the world’s top teams.

In the second test in Galle two years ago, Australia were bowled out for 106 and 183 and lost by 229 runs in less than three days.

“In that video, they only say that the Galle match ended in two-and-half days. Players never complained. Nothing was mentioned in the captains’ reports. No complaints from umpires and match referee as well,” Mohan de Silva, the vice president of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), told reporters in Colombo on Monday.

“So it is difficult for us to believe something wrong has happened. That is what the ICC is investigating.”

The SLC has appointed a committee to look into the matter, to assess if there was a failure in protocols and to take measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.
CRicket 1
Former Sri Lankan international cricketers tell an undercover Al Jazeera reporter that they would carry out fixes in a corrupt cricket tournament [Al Jazeera]. 

The SLC has suspended former players Tharindu Mendis and Jeevantha Kulatunga, who have been working as provincial coaches. The assistant manager at the Galle cricket ground, who is implicated in Al Jazeera’s allegations, has also been suspended.

“We have taken measures and we have showed all the world that we are on top of it. We will not tolerate this even in the future,” SLC CEO Ashley De Silva said.

The documentary showed two men claiming to be the assistant manager at the Galle stadium and another former cricketer speaking to an undercover reporter and explaining how a pitch could be doctored.

Last year’s test between Sri Lanka and India at Galle is also under suspicion and match-fixers have targeted England’s test at the same venue in November, The Australian newspaper reported.

The SLC CEO said the board was not under any pressure from the England Cricket Board regarding this year’s test.

Match-fixing has become a major concern for cricket in recent years.

In 2010, Pakistani players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were part of a gambling-inspired plot to bowl no-balls at pre-arranged times during a test match against England at Lord’s.

The players served prison sentences and were handed multi-year bans from the game after an ICC tribunal found them guilty of spot-fixing.
Amir has now returned to the Pakistan team and helped them beat England in the first test at Lord’s on Sunday.

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British Rugby player dies on Lankan tour; another player critically ill 

British amateur rugby player has died and a second is critically ill after suffering breathing problems during a tour of Sri Lanka.

Thomas Howard, 25, was taken to hospital in the city of Colombo on Sunday and died shortly afterwards, according to Durham City RFC. Tom Baty, 26, remains in hospital where he is being treated.

They were on tour with the Clems Pirates team, which is described as a veterans’ outfit that raises money for charity based at Durham City RFC.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunesekara said that some of the players went to a nightclub before returning to the team hotel in the early hours of Sunday. They reported respiratory problems at about 10am.

"Both men had returned from a nightclub and had complained of breathing difficulties, and they were admitted to the hospital, one died and another is in very critical condition,” he said, adding that a post-mortem examination would be conducted.

The club said the breathing problems were "non rugby related".

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Brazilian soccer icon Ronaldinho to marry two women at the same time

Brazilian soccer icon Ronaldinho will marry two women in a ceremony in August, according to Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Dia. 

According to various reports, Ronaldinho met Priscilla Coehlo some time between 2012 and 2014, while he was playing for Atletico Mineiro. He met Beatriz Souza in 2016 and began dating her while also continuing his relationship with Coelho. All three people live together in Ronaldihno’s Rio condominium.

A small wedding will be held in Ronaldinho’s home, though his sister, who does not agree with his lifestyle, has said she won’t attend, O Dia reports.

Brazil, like many countries, outlaws bigamy and polygamy but civil unions between more than two people are not unheard of there. In 2012, a man and two women in Sao Paulo state became Brazil’s first three-person civil union. Three women in Rio had their union recognized in 2015.

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From Anuradhapura to Abu Dhabi: Sri Lankan cricket hero Chamani Senevirathne gets ready for a second innings with Team UAE

Chamani Senevirathne has returned to international cricket four years after saying goodbye. In a new role. For a different team.

The former Sri Lanka captain has been named in the UAE's 14-member squad to play in the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier from July 3-14 in the Netherlands. Going by her career statistics, she could be picked for her experience alone.

A veteran of five 50-over World Cups, Senevirathne has also played in two World Twenty20s and an Indoor World Cup. She remains Sri Lanka's only Test centurion more than two decades after scoring 105 not out against Pakistan.

Clearly though, current form has been the main reason for her selection.

Senevirathne led Abu Dhabi Cricket (ADC) to the UAE National Women’s T20 League title last week. Her feat was even more commendable given that she was captaining a newly-formed team. Opening the batting, she emerged the third-highest scorer in the tournament: 225 runs at an average of 45.00 and strike-rate of 123.63.

She was also player of the final last Friday, smashing 80 from 56 balls as ADC beat Desert Cubs by 13 runs at Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Clearly the cricket in her is still alive. So why did she have to leave Sri Lanka to come to the UAE?

Her short, three-word answer: "lack of opportunities". Indeed, Senevirathne played just one Test for Sri Lanka since making her international debut in 1997, although she did feature in 80 one-day internationals and 32 T20 matches. But thereafter, there was little scope for her either as a coach or an administrator.

Even though she had been picked for Sri Lanka's tour of India in 2014, she chose to retire from the game before moving to the Emirates, where she now works as a coach and fitness trainer at Zayed Cricket Academy.

Senevirathne is remarkably fit for someone who turns 40 this year, but that is hardly surprising given that she is a fitness fanatic. She has kept herself active by playing in tournaments such as the recent T20 league and training at the academy.

Her all-round abilities have hardly waned either, as was evident at some of these tournaments.

“I have been playing club cricket since I was 16 and have continued to play after arriving in Abu Dhabi; not as much as I used to do, but still good enough to be competitive,” Senevirathne said.

Chamani 1
Chamani Senevirathne enjoys competing with players half her age. 

She admits she is surprised to be back as an international player.

“I retired from international cricket for personal reasons, and when I left Sri Lanka I never thought I’d play international cricket [again]. But here I am wearing the shirt of another country again," she said. “It’s a real honour to get selected for the UAE. Cricket has been all my life."
So how does she view her role in the new team?

“I’ll be happy if I can make a contribution to the UAE and share my experience with my teammates. Obviously it’s a tough task for an associate member, but we’ll give our best shot to qualify [for the World T20].”

"Tough" is a word that often appears in Senevirathne's vocabulary. Born and raised in Anuradhapura, a city almost 200 kilometres from Colombo in the North Central Province which is famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient civilisation. And as a young player, she had to go through plenty of hardship to progress in her career.

“Those were tough days when I had to travel to Colombo at the crack of dawn and return home very late,” she said.

“At the end, it was indeed a very exciting and rewarding journey. I was fortunate to play in three different formats of the World Cups. I cherish all those beautiful moments and my time in international cricket.”

Chamani 2
Chamani Senevirathne works at Zayed Cricket Academy, but she hopes to open her own coaching school one day. 

It is a journey she continues to enjoy. Decades after starting out, she continues to play the game and compete with players half her age. Her passion for cricket has brought her to coaching.

“Having spent most of my time playing cricket, my job as a cricket coach is the next best thing to happen to me,” she said. “I want to nurture as many young cricketers as possible from the Zayed academy to reach a good level.

"Our goal is also to encourage girls and develop women’s cricket in the country.”

(The National)

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Sri Lankan cricketers get 34% pay hike

Sri Lanka Cricket has raised the wages of national players by 34-pct for the period of 2018/19, following strong results achieved during the concluded financial year.

Apart from the pay raise, the 33 contracted players will also be given a raise in match fees covering all match formats.

“Since, Sri Lanka Cricket has made good financial gains during the concluded financial year, we thought it is appropriate to give a pay raise for the players, as they are making a major contribution towards the growth of Sri Lanka Cricket” said SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala.
The contracts were offered under categories of A, B, C, D & Premier.

Accordingly, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal and Dimuth Karunaratne was offered contracts under category ‘A,’ whilst Upul Tharanga and Dilruwan Perera were given contracts under category ‘B’.

Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Dananjaya De Silva; Kusal Janith and Thisara Perera were contracted under Category ‘C’.

Akila Danajaya, Dushmantha Chameera, Asela Gunaratne, Danushka Gunatilleka and Nuwan Pradeep was given contracts under category ‘D’.
In the meantime, players who were contracted under the ‘Premier category’ were Sadeera Samarawickrema, Roshen Silva, Lahiru Thirimanna, Lahiru Gamage, Vishwa Fernando, Lakshan Sadakan, Jeffery Vandersay, Dasun Shanaka, Kaushal Silva, Shehan Madushanka, Lahiru Kumara, Malintha Pushpakumara, Amila Aponso, Wanidu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana and Dilshan Munaweera.

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Udawatte gets Test call-up for Windies tour

Sri Lanka suffered a huge blow ahead of the tour of West Indies with prolific opener Dimuth Karunaratne ruled out of the three-match series.

Karunaratne fractured his left index finger during training a fortnight ago and although specialists were confident that he will be able to make it to the side before the first Test in Trinidad that gets underway on June 6, the selectors have made a call.

Although on previous tours Sri Lanka would have taken a chance by bringing their prolific opener straight into the series, the fitness guidelines issued by the Ministry of Sports stresses on proper assessment of fitness. As a result, the selectors are keen to assess players’ match fitness before bringing them back to competitive cricket.

Karunaratne, who only plays Test cricket, was prolific last year as he scored over 1000 runs in the calendar year becoming the first Sri Lankan to do so since Kumar Sangakkara in 2014. He was also named Player of the Series after Sri Lanka ended Pakistan’s unbeaten run in UAE last October. His 196 in the first innings of Sri Lanka’s first-ever pink-ball Test in Dubai remains his career-best score. The 31-year-old has been replaced by another 31-year-old - Mahela Udawatte. The left-handed batsman had made his ODI debut in Port of Spain and is certain to make his Test debut at the same venue, albeit ten years later.

Udawatte, yet another product of Ananda College, was prolific in the recent Inter-Provincial tournament as he averaged 56 in the first-class competition and averaged 62 in the List A tournament before being called up to Kandy for a training camp prior to the tour.

Danushka Gunathilaka, who was the reserve opener during the last tour of Bangladesh and played the Dhaka Test as a middle-order batsman, has been axed. Lakshan Sandakan was also dropped as the selectors backed right-arm leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay. The injured fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera was overlooked for the series with Kasun Rajitha and Asitha Fernando being named in an extended 17-member squad.

There was no place for fast bowler Dhammika Prasad, who made a comeback to domestic cricket last month after being on the sidelines for over two years following a shoulder surgery.

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