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Sony sole bidder for the rights; Sri Lanka cricket ready to accept the ‘low offer’

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has entered in a separate and exclusive negotiation with Sony Picture Network (SPN) for the long pending tender for the media rights. As reported by InsideSport, SPN was the only interested party to submit its bid for the SLC rights.
None of the other companies including a leading Sports media rights marketing company from India submitted their bid. According to InsideSport, Star India, Discovery and others stayed away from the tender which has got postponed multiple times over the last 4 months.

According to SLC sources, Sony had earlier submitted a bid for all media rights (Television – Digital combine) for $22.5 Mn and that stays their final bid amount.

The sources further inform InsideSport that the offer by SPN is way below the expectations of SLC. But owing to the limited interest by the other parties, SLC are not left with any option but to accept the offer. Though SLC according to the source will attempt one last time to negotiate with the broadcaster.

“Market has not responded to our rights favorably. Coronavirus has taken its toll. The board will try one last time to negotiate with Sony to increase the price and we are confident that they being our long term partner will understand our situation”, said one of the SLC board members following the bid process closely.

Low offers are not the only thing which is worrying SLC. The sources say that SPN’S offer is conditional. In case the postponed tour of the Indian cricket team to Sri Lanka does not materialize in the contract period, the offered values will be eroded by almost 40-45%.

“We are confident, BCCI will reschedule the series soon. It is a committed series in the FTP and cannot be cancelled. It is just a matter of rescheduling the series but this is true that Sony’s offer to us will reduce considerably if, God forbid, the tour gets cancelled for some reasons”, added the SLC board member.

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Plans to build mega stadium scrapped after former cricketers' intervention

Plans to build a new 40-000-seater cricket stadium in Colombo have been abandoned after ex-players warned Sri Lanka's Prime Minister that the venue would be a waste of money.

The proposed arena, plans for which were unveiled by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) earlier this week, was estimated to cost $30 million.

"It was decided at a meeting with former top players today that instead of the proposed Homagama stadium it was better to spend money on building school cricket," read a statement from the office of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Former Sri Lankan captains Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Sanath Jayasuriya were among those to meet with the Prime Minister and raise their concerns.

Eyebrows were raised when SLC said it intended to build a new stadium in Homagama in the district of Colombo, which already boasts the R Premadasa Stadium, currently the largest stadium in Sri Lanka.

The R Premadasa Stadium is in Khettarama and is where Sri Lanka's national teams usually train, but it lacks indoor nets and and swimming pool.

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SLC had suggested that a new stadium was needed if it were to host future International Cricket Council events, but the nation did host both the men's and women's T20 World Cups in 2012 using three stadiums - one of which is named after the current Prime Minister.

It also emerged that a feasibility study on a new cricket venue in Jaffna - announced by SLC in 2017 - has still not been completed.

Government Minister Bandula Gunawardana, who represents the area where the new stadium would have been build, had announced the plans for the new stadium in Homagama, but when he did said the taxpayer would not be footing the bill for the new venue.

SLC needed a Government bailout in 2011 after costs associated with co-hosting the World Cup overran, so whether it was really in a strong enough position to fund a new stadium was doubtful.

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Cycling Federation slams Sports Ministry over double standards

The Cycling Federation has alleged that the Sports Ministry is treating it differently over an inquiry against them following incidents that took place at the South Asian Games held last December.

An official of the Cycling Federation told the Sunday Observer that the Ministry had treated them not in the same manner as they have treated other sports bodies.

“Sports like cricket, rugby, football or athletics have been given due regards by the Sports Ministry. How did they solve the match fixing allegation on the Cricket World Cup 2011 so quickly,” said the official who did not want to be quoted as he is not authorised to make public comments.

“We have been accused of wrong-doing in one event at the South Asian Games last year. We have submitted our explanation to this allegation which the ministry is yet to take up.

“The cricket allegation was solved within three days but our issue has not even begun. Every sports federation must be treated the same way and this is the responsibility of the Sports Ministry,” he added.
(Prakash Irugalbanadara)
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Achini Kulasuriya cleared of serious injury after shocking blow to the head

Sri Lankan women’s cricket star Achini Kulasuriya was taken to hospital and her team’s match against South Africa was called off on Sunday after she suffered a horrible injury as she attempted to take a catch on the boundary.

Playing a warm-up match ahead of the women’s T20 World Cup in Australia, the 29-year-old was struck on the head by the ball when she failed to grasp a catch in the deep.

Kulasuriya was taken to Royal Adelaide Hospital for tests but was later discharged and cleared of serious injury, cricket.com.au reports. She will continue to be monitored.

The scary incident occurred late in Sri Lanka’s tussle against South Africa as the two sides simulated a Super Over situation after the result had already been sealed.
South Africa won the match by 41 runs but because the next match of the day’s double-header, between England and New Zealand, wasn’t scheduled to start for another hour, both teams agreed to practice their death skills with a Super Over, which takes place if a match ends in a tie.

The Proteas took to the crease in the second Super Over but drama struck on the first ball when big-hitter Chloe Tryon slapped her first ball to long off.

Kulasuriya steadied under the ball but it burst through her fingers and cracked her flush on the skull, sending her crumbling to the turf.

She reportedly lay motionless, face down on the ground for several minutes as teammates rushed to her side.

Ambulance officers assessed Kulasuriya and she was stretchered off the field before being taken to hospital.

Tryon was reportedly distressed by the incident but members of the Sri Lankan camp reassured her Kulasuriya was OK and the batter was in no way to blame for the sickening blow.

The Proteas didn’t continue their Super Over after Kulasuriya’s scare and the game was called off.

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Aravinda on match fixing claims: Can't let people get away with lies!

Sri Lanka batting legend Aravinda de Silva has said that the claims made by former Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage that the 2011 World Cup final was fixed are "lies". He, however, urged the International Cricket Council (ICC), the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to launch an investigation. "We cannot let people get away all the time with lies. I request everyone, ICC, BCCI, and SLC to investigate this immediately," Silva told Sri Lankan newspaper Sunday Times.

The former SLC chairman of selectors said legends like Sachin Tendulkar, who won his maiden World Cup in 2011, deserve the respect and that's why it's the duty of the Indian government and BCCI to initiate an impartial probe.

"Just like we cherished our World Cup victory, players like Sachin (Tendulkar) cherish these moments for the rest of their lives. I think in the interest of Sachin and the millions of cricket fans across India, it's the duty of the Indian government and their cricket board to initiate an impartial inquiry to see whether they have won a fixed World Cup," de Silva said.

 "When serious allegations like these are being made, it affects a lot of people. In this case not only us, the selectors, the players, and the team management but Indian cricketers who deservingly won the world title. We need to clear this once and for all for the greater good of the game we love," he added.

Aluthgamage had earlier stated in an interview that the match, which India won at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai in 2011, was "fixed."

"The 2011 Cricket World Cup final was fixed. I stand by what I say. It took place when I was the minister of sports," Aluthgamage told Sri Lankan outlet newsfirst.lk.

"However, I do not wish to expose details for the sake of the country. The game against India in 2011, the game we could have won, was fixed.

"I say this with a responsibility and I can come forward for a debate. The people are concerned about it. I would not involve the cricketers in this.

"However, certain groups were definitely involved in fixing the game," he added.

 Former Sri Lankan captains Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene both responded to Aluthgame's comments, saying the allegations were not true and also demanded evidence.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's Sports Ministry has also launched an inquiry into match-fixing allegations with regard to 2011 World Cup final. The Special Investigations Unit of the ministry would be looking into the matter.

On April 2, 2011, India had won their second ODI World Cup title riding on the heroics of Gautam Gambhir and then skipper MS Dhoni. Batting first, Sri Lanka posted a commanding total of 274/6 in 50 overs with Mahela Jayawardene (103*) slamming an unbeaten ton.

Chasing the target, half-centuries from Gambhir (97) and Dhoni (91*) helped the team get over the line with 10 balls to spare.

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Sri Lankan netballers crowned as South Asian champs

Sri Lanka Netball team emerged champions at the inaugural South Asian under 16 Netball Championship concluded yesterday at the Army Sports Complex in Kathmandu, Nepal . In the final Sri Lankan team led by Nethmi Wijenayake defeated India 42/28 to take the South Asian crown.

In the final, the Lankan lasses played with more confidence from the first quarter. In the first quarter, both teams scored 8 points each but in the second and third quarters, the Sri Lankan team dominated with a clear lead of 16/4 and 11/8. However, Indians won the final quarter after a tough game 8/7 but that was not enough to get the championship in the inaugural tournament and Sri Lanka recorded a comprehensive victory by registering 42/28.

Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and hosts Nepal took part in this tournament organised by the Nepal Netball Association.

Sri Lanka team coach Amalka Gunatilleka said this was a fine team effort by the Sri Lanka side.

"We had good confidence before this tournament to win the title. We were able to get good practice sessions and all players did their part very well thoughtout the tournament. Actually, this was a good exposure for the juniors and they are our future prospects," said coach Amalka Gunatilleka who is the head coach of Holy Family Convent Kurunegala which has produced top players in the school arena over the past couple of decades.

The champion team comprised three players from HFC Kurunegala, as well as two each from Musaeus College and Kalutara Balika as well as HFC Kalutara and one each from Girls High School Kandy and Presbyterian Girls School in Dehiwela.
Further, Hiruni Heshani was named as the Best Shooter, Nethmi Wijenayaka was named as the Best Player while Hiruni Jinali was named as the Best Player of the final.

The champion Sri Lanka under 16 team:

Nethmi Wijenayake - Captain (Musaeus College), Hiruni Heshani (Holy Family Convent, Kurunegala), Hiruni Jinali(Maliyadeva Balika Vidyalaya, Kurunegala), Maheesha Bandara (Girls High School, Kandy), Rishini Sewwandi (Holy Family Convent, Kurunegala), Randuli Rubasinghe (Musaeus College), Rashmi Anjalika (Presbyterian Girls’ School, Dehiwala), Ramdhi Gamage (Holy Family Convent, Kalutara), Krishmi Dinethya (Holy Family Convent, Kalutara), Senuthi Dilakna (Kalutara Balika Vidyalaya), Dishari Adeesha (Kalutara Balika Vidyalaya), Natasha Dias (Holy Family Convent, Kurunegala), Amalka Gunatilleka (Coach).

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India's tour of Sri Lanka postponed due to COVID-19 fears

India have postponed their limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka scheduled later this month over COVID-19 fears, cricket boards of both the countries said on Thursday.

Virat Kohli and his men were scheduled to play three one-day matches and an equal number of Twenty20 internationals but the Indian board (BCCI) has informed Sri Lanka Cricket that the tour “will not be feasible”.

The Indian cricketers, who have not even started training, will follow advice from the Indian government health regulatory authorities before resuming cricket, the SLC has been told.

BCCI treasurer Arun Singh Dhumal said India remained committed to the Future Tours Programme (FTP) and would tour Sri Lanka at a more opportune time.

“We're committed to FTP, but given the current situation, it's not possible for the team to travel, it's not safe,” Dhumal told Reuters by telephone.

“So we'll see whenever there is an opportunity, we'll try and make up for this series.”

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Rugby WC 2019: Kiwi ref under attack for celebrating with Fijian player during game

New Zealand referee Ben O'Keeffe has come under fire across the ditch after alleged footage emerged of him celebrating a Fijian try in their opening Rugby World Cup defeat to Australia.

Fiji took a shock 21-12 lead over Australia early in the second half in Saturday's Pool D game before the Wallabies came storming back to win 39-21.

O'Keeffe was in charge of the match, his first at a World Cup, and Australia publication Fox Sports claims the Kiwi 'committed the cardinal sin' by giving a low five to a Fijian player after their second try to Waisea Nayacalevu.

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"Regardless of his intentions or the motivations behind the gesture, it just shouldn't happen," the Fox Sports story says.

 O'Keeffe is set to officiate France v USA on October 2 and Japan v Scotland October 13.

After the game Michael Chieka seemed less than impressed with O'Keeffe when it came to a number of calls on flanker David Pocock. The Wallabies veteran was pinged three times at the breakdown.

"The stuff on the ground, I'm not quite sure what's going on but the team of three were talking about David Pocock from the first minute of the game," Cheika said.

"I'm not sure what (Pocock's) done but there was some severe focus on him.

"I heard his name mentioned between them on the commentary at least half a dozen times in their own chat when he hadn't even been involved in the ruck."
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Sri Lanka to host Asia Cup 2020

The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has offered Sri Lanka the rights to host the upcoming Asia cup. Pakistan was originally scheduled to host this year’s Asia cup in September. Despite that, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) agreed to the proposal of ACC for giving Sri Lanka the hosting rights of the Asia Cup 2020.

The event had an uncertain future after India refused to tour Pakistan. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) chief Shammi Silva discussed the hosting rights with PCB to which they agreed due to the current situation because of COVID-19. The two cricket boards in an online meeting talked about the event and it is now almost certain that Sri Lanka would host the Asia Cup this year.

“We discussed with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and they have already agreed to our hosting this edition due to the present world situation. We had an online ACC meeting and they basically gave us the green light to host the tournament”, Shammi Silva was quoted as saying by ”Ceylon Today’.

The ACC will wait for ICC’s decision on whether Australia will host the T20 world cup in October and November. The ACC also discussed possible venues for the Asia Cup that would provide a safe environment for the players.

The final decision of the Asia cup could be taken soon with Sri Lanka bagging the hosting rights. Another topic that was discussed in the online meeting was ACC’s involvement in the 2022 Asia cup games in China.

“The Cricket Boards emphasized the importance of holding the Asia Cup 2020. In light of the impact and consequences of the asiaCOVID-19 pandemic, possible venue options for the Asia Cup 2020 were discussed and it was decided to take the final decision in due course,” an ACC press release stated after the meeting.

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ICC to review security arrangements ahead of Sri Lanka's tour of Pakistan

The International Cricket Council (ICC) will review security arrangements in Pakistan before the Sri Lanka series, Daily Jang reported on Sunday. 

The ICC will analyse the security plans before appointing neutral umpires and match referees.

It is pertinent to mention here that the ICC had not appointed neutral match officials when Zimbabwe visited Pakistan in 2015.

Instead, officials from both the countries had been tasked to oversee cricketing matters.

It remains to be seen whether the ICC would indirectly endorse the security arrangements in Pakistan by appointing neutral officials or let the PCB and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) pick officials from within their own setups.

The Sri Lankan team is scheduled to play an ODI and a T20I series in Pakistan starting Sep 27.

The tour, however, has become doubtful over the past week since Sri Lankan authorities received intel of a possible terrorism attack on their team in Pakistan.

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Men's cricket team to resume training today

The National Men’s players will return to training on the 01st June 2020, strictly adhering to the health regulations imposed by the Government in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) announced.

Accordingly, the selected squad of 13 members will undergo a 12 day ‘Residential Training Camp’ at the CCC, Colombo, whilst they will stay as a group in a hotel during the entirety of the camp.

The players taking part in the camp represents a general squad chosen from across all formats, and primarily consist of bowlers, as they need more time for ‘conditioning’ before going into active competition.

The coaching and support staff consists of a four member unit.

The 12 day ‘Residential Training Camp’ was implemented, taking into consideration the health regulations imposed by the Government, which specifies cricket as a ‘High Risk’ sport and needs residential training.

SLC has taken all required measures in consultation with the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Health to ensure the safety of every individual involved in this exercise, and has formulated a set of procedures to adhere, during the camp period and before.

Accordingly, some of the procedures are as follows,

- All vehicles involved in the program will be disinfected before commencing the ‘Residential Camp’ and also during the camp period.

- Whilst health officials already visited the hotel and the practice venue, and provided health guidelines to the staff members of the respective venues to follow, during the camp period.

- Members taking part in the camp, will not be allowed to leave the hotel premises or the practice venue to attend personal matters during the training period.

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Kim Clijsters stuns Tennis world with comeback at age 36

Kim Clijsters, a former world No. 1, stunned the tennis world by announcing a comeback to the women’s WTA Tour next year at the age of 36.

Clijsters’ return was first announced by the WTA.

I don't really feel like I want to prove something," Clijsters told the WTA Insider Podcastin an exclusive interview on Thursday. "I think for me it's the challenge."

With a game built around superb all-court coverage, athleticism and power, Clijsters won three U.S. Open titles, one Australian Open championship and three season-ending WTA Finals. Clijsters, the daughter of the late Belgian soccer player Lei Clijsters, won 41 career titles, amassing over $24 million in prize money. She was inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017.

Clijsters last played a competitive tennis match at the 2012 U.S. Open, when she was 29 years old. She will make her second comeback to women’s tennis as the mother of three children with her American husband, former basketball player Brian Lynch.

Her oldest daughter, Jada, was born in February 2008, during a 26-month break away from the Tour. In July 2009, Clijsters had a fairytale comeback, winning the U.S. Open that year in just her third tournament back to become the first mother to clinch a major since Australia’s Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon in 1980. Clijsters and Lynch welcomed a son, Jack, in 2013, followed by another son, Blake, in 2016.

Clijsters, who runs her own tennis academy in Belgium, worked as a tennis broadcaster and competed in Legends’ events during the slams in the past seven years, was one of the most popular players both on and off the court during her time on the women’s tour.
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Kim Clijsters and John McEnroe in action during a test event for Wimbledon's No. 1 court roof in May. (Photo: Dan Istitene/Getty Images)Getty Images

“Kim Clijsters ranks among the greats of the game and her return to the Tour is exciting news for the WTA family and tennis fans around the world,” Steve Simon, WTA chairman and chief executive officer, said in an emailed statement. “Driven by her love for the sport, this wonderful champion continues to inspire women and men in all walks of life – and she only adds to the compelling wealth of talent in women’s tennis. I wish Kim all the best in this next chapter of her playing career.”

In May, Clijsters took part in an exhibition event at Wimbledon to test its new roof over No. 1 Court. Afterwards, five-time Wimbledon winner Venus Williams told the crowd the Belgian "could be on Tour right now. The strokes are so clean and I am looking across and the net and I am like ‘Wow, what an amazing stroke production’...It’s unbelievable how she is moving and playing."

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