English tour in Quarantine? | Sunday Observer

English tour in Quarantine?

25 October, 2020

Much as Sri Lankan fans want their thirst for cricket quenched, the administrators are facing a dilemma as who were to draw the line with visiting teams, given the Covid-19 threat. The rules framed and imposed by the government, requires strict adherence to tests and quarantines.

Bending the rules is not something that the government would want to indulge in, given the admirable manner in which the Rajapaksa administration aided by the tri-forces have implemented without fear or favour.

When the Bangladesh cricket team was billed to play here they wanted the rules bent to accommodate them. Sri Lanka Cricket acted hard and strong and the trade off was in the interests of the health of the people of Sri Lanka as well as that of the visitors.

Now comes the England cricket team with the same demands that they would find it difficult to adhere to the 14-day quarantine putting the tour possibly off the rails.

England won the series against West Indies and Pakistan at home and the T20 series against Australia and later losing the 50-over series to the Aussies after insisting the tourists follow their strict covid-19 rules put in place before allowing them on the field. To the English we say: what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Make no mistake about it, we would still love to see the English in action on our turf and give our fans and players a much needed boost.

We look forward to normalcy returning soon and Sri Lanka will benefit from the traction that visiting teams bring. The reality though is that with this will take considerable more time in coming. Meanwhile the local teams should make maximum us of the break to fine-tune the teams, test out budding players and coach them intensely of new techniques and approaches in team-play.

Sad passing away

It was sad the passing away of two outstanding sportsmen who hugged the headlines during their record breaking achievements recently and a lesser known sportsman.

Let’s start with the track and field athlete who shone like a star during his record breaking ‘throwing’ days especially with the Discuss and later on excelling as an administrator par excellence.

He is none other than Ranjit Weerasena of St. Peter’s College Bambalapitya. He was one of the most illustrious sportsmen to emerge from that school. The others from the school who come to mind are left handed stylish batsman Clive Inman whose unbeaten double century in the big mach against St. Joseph’s in 1954 still stands as a record.

And there was Dr. Herbert I.K. Fernando who was a wicket keeper in the mould of former Australian wicket keeper Wally Grout and who during Sri Lanka’s pre-Test era was classed as the best gloveman in Asia. He was also a classical right hand batsman who had the distinction of captaining the country.

Back to Weerasena. He had the build of a giant, yet gentle and a fierce competitor on the throwing field. He hurled the discuss with ease and beginning from his school days, to club to Sri Lanka every throw ended invariably in a record. He was regular in the Sri Lankan Asian Games team.

In my ‘Sports Legend’ column in the ‘Daily News’ I featured his achievements that needs no reiteration. After his record breaking days were over he took to administration and worked like a beaver to see that the interest and the improvement in the sport did not die, but remain at the top.

He was a firm believer that any sport needs publicity for its growth and used to be a regular visitor to the Daily Mirror and Times when the writer was Sports Editor and helping fill the sports pages with the latest track and field news which I deeply appreciated. We built up a good rapport and it remained that way until he cruelly suffered a stroke that put him out of the picture and had him bed ridden for the rest of his life which he bore bravely until his demise.

Men of the calibre of Ranjit Weerasena who excelled and worked hard for the sport would not come that easy and the gathering that visited the parlour and the burial site will bear testimony to his greatness. May his soul rest in peace.

Two Bens laid to rest

Two Bens cricketers, one outstanding and the other lesser known, but promising who had his career cut short passed away recently. They were Jayakumar Perera a gangling fast bowler and top notch javelin thrower in the schools athletic circles in the mid 1960s.

Perera starred in the Bens cricket team of 1964 led by Sunil Fernando brother of the famous Ranjit when they beat St. Joseph’s College at Kotahena after over four decades much to the jubilation of all Bens living here and abroad.

Jayakumar joined the police force and his younger brother Chandrakumar too followed joining the police and was a keen body builder. Chandrakumar rose in the police to become Senior Superintendent before his life was snuffed out by a Tiger bomb blast in Jaffna.

Incidentally they lost their father Roy who was OIC Dematagoda Police when a cop unable to cope with discipline instilled by Roy took him unawares and stabbed him to death.

The other Bens cricketer to pass away was Benedict Francis who was a promising leg spin bowler who could not make it to the first team at college preferring to seek employment at Aitken Spence where he shone in Mercantile cricket. He was a sports sub editor in the Daily Mirror at the time of his death.

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