Jayasekara, answering a higher call
Keep yourself mentally free: Barry
We can play Suresh: Sanath
All group A matches end in 1-1 draw
Impressive show by Divya
Race Review/ �Master� revelled on wet track
Calcutta Racing/ RCTC unfolds �winter� plans

Kandy, Aug. 20: 
Is Air Commodore Ajith Jayasekara, the Sri Lankan cricket Team�s manager, first an air force man or is the team his top priority? Actually, it depends on where the call of duty is higher.

Last month, after the daring and murderous terrorist attack on the Katunayake air base, adjacent to the Bandaranaike international airport, Jayasekara asked to be relieved of his cricket assignment. Now, however, he is back.

Former tearaway Rumesh Ratnakeye, who travels with the team as fast-bowling coach, had taken on the manager�s duties in a stand-in capacity.

�As an air force man, I was very upset (by the attack) and realised I couldn�t do justice to my managership. I promptly reported back to the air force but, when things settled down, I returned to the team,� the burly-looking but genial Jayasekara told The Telegraph this evening.

Jayaseksara, who is in the air force�s engineering wing, has been the manager for some months now, an indication that the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka is looking to now give him a fixed tenure.

Barring former captain Duleep Mendis, who had a fairly long stint (ending with the disastrous 1999 World Cup), Lanka have had �problems� with managers. One gentleman had to be taken off after suspected links with terrorists. Then, a high-ranking police officer also got the job. Now, it�s an Air Commodore.

The more professional teams, Australia for instance, have fixed-tenure managers. With so much cricket, it does help to have continuity even where the managership is concerned.

Incidentally, the five Israeli-built Kfir fighter jets, damaged in last month�s attack, are back in action. But the Sri Lankan air force still suffered heavy losses.


Kandy, Aug.20: 
�Don�t look for things that aren�t there... Go back to the formula which made you a top-bracket player... And, most important, keep yourself mentally free,� is Barry Richards� advice to beleagured Indian captain Sourav Ganguly.

The icon, selected as an opener in the late Sir Don Bradman�s �Dream Team�, added: �In fact, when Sourav came the other day, I suggested he should set time-parameters and not run-parameters while batting. In effect, then, Sourav must look to keep his wicket intact on an hourly basis and not exactly seek to score X number of runs from the time he gets in.�

Speaking to The Telegraph over breakfast today, Richards felt Sourav ought not to curb what comes naturally. �He�s got to play the shots he finds most comfortable... I don�t think it�s a technique problem, with him, as much as a problem probably in the mind. In any case, the difference between an edge and the middle is minute.�

Last night, incidentally, former England captain Tony Greig said much the same thing during a chance one-on-one with Sourav at the Mahaweli Reach Hotel�s poolside. The conversation began with the �Dream Team� and, within a minute or two, Sourav asked point-blank: �Tony, have you been noticing my batting?�

Initially, Greig didn�t appear very enthusiastic about launching into a post-mortem, but eventually spoke for around half-an-hour. It certainly made Sourav feel better.

�Have you watched any of your old cassettes? Are you moving your feet in similar fashion or...� is how Greig set the ball rolling. Sourav, for his part, admitted his current footwork wasn�t quite the same.

Realising that Sourav, perhaps, is getting affected by the loose talk about captaincy back home, Greig had a specific piece of advice: �Go and make the best decisions. At the end of it, the worst that can happen is you will lose the captaincy. So what?�

Sourav responded with a slight nod and iterated that �captaining India was about the most difficult job.� Asked what meant most to him, as captain, Sourav replied: �The respect of eammates.�

Greig continued: �Of course, you�ve got to back players you think will deliver. But, equally, they�ve got to do just that. I remember when I first proposed 33-year-old David Steele�s name ahead of that home series against Australia (1975), chief selector Sir Len Hutton�s reaction was: �Which Steele?� As it turned out, in three Tests, Steele amassed 365 runs...�

When the issue of the Board�s refusal to send Ajit Agarkar as Jawagal Srinath�s replacement cropped up, Greig opined Sourav should �quickly� forget the episode and get on with the job. �Look, in dealing with selectors and officials, you will have to strike a balance between asking and giving. You could, on the other hand, have a I-don�t-care-a-damn attitude. Or, even be a yes-man. The choice is in your hands.�

[Greig also suggested Sourav stop making a show of being wronged by the umpire. As he put it: �In Galle, there was no need for you to point to your left shoulder, even before you were in the dressing room. The world had already seen that...�]

About being firm with the boys, Greig gave a rather hilarious example � but the point was made.

According to Greig, a day before the Centenary Test (1977) in Melbourne, he physically lifted Derek Randall, took him to a corner of the dressing room and warned that another 30-40 alone wouldn�t do. �I�d had enough, so I didn�t mince words: �Mate, if you think you�ve been doing your job well, you haven�t. If you wish to again play for England, you better get a big score...� That�s what I told Randall,� Greig recalled, laughing.

That �threat� obviously had the desired effect as Randall compiled a brilliant 174, in the second essay, an innings which went a long way towards ensuring England�s 45-run victory.

In the present scenario, there are a couple of Indian players who deserve the Randall-treatment but, first, Sourav has to tell himself that he�s got to deliver.

It�s not that Sourav isn�t trying. At this morning�s workout, for instance, he opted for extra �nets� on a largely unused cement wicket at the Asgiriya. He got a local lad to bowl with wet tennis balls, something which continued for a good 20 minutes. Later, Shiv Sundar Das and Hemang Badani went through similar �nets�.

While it remains to be seen to what extent Sourav�s effort is rewarded, coach John Wright insisted it was a �matter of time� before the captain regained form. �Frankly, Sourav�s feet have been moving better than they were in Zimbabwe... He should probably take it a bit easy and, yes, some of the talk isn�t helping him. However, all the boys are behind the captain.�

No individual is bigger than the team and, therefore, India stand to gain more should Sourav again feature among big runs. The second Test begins Wednesday.


Kandy, Aug. 20: 
Though umpire Steve Bucknor suspects allrounder Suresh Perera�s action, there is no bar on the Sri Lankans fielding him. This was emphatically stated today by captain Sanath Jayasuriya.

Suresh is in the XVI for the second Test, beginning Wednesday.

�My understanding is that Suresh can not only be played, he can even bowl � right now, even before the ICC�s review process has begun,� Jayasuriya told Telegraph, after the team�s first workout in Kandy, late this afternoon.

In fact, Jayasuriya indicated the first Test-winning XI will be retained, which means Suresh will play. But, if there is a change, then Suresh will be omitted and either Tilan Samaraweera or Romesh Kaluwitharana will come in.

Samaraweera, the Lanka A captain, will give Jayasuriya an extra spin option. However, if Kaluwitharana plays, he will keep wickets and Kumar Sangakkara will be in the XI as a specialist batsman.

It�s significant, perhaps, that Bucknor will be officiating in the second Test, too.

So, Suresh will be more than just watched. According to Jayasuriya, the umpire has �reservations about some deliveries only.� Till now, though, the Lankan captain isn�t aware of the �blacklisted� ones.

Meanwhile, speaking exclusively at the team hotel, Suresh said he was �upset, but not devastated.� He added: �I�m not quite sure about the procedure, but I�m confident of coming through clean.�


Calcutta, Aug. 20: 
All three CFL first division group A matches ended 1-1 today.

The teams involved were Milan Bithee-Bata SC, Peerless-Aryan and Howrah Union-Railway FC. Koushik Dutta of Bata SC was shown the red card for foul play.

The solitary group B match between Behala Youth and Sporting Union was also drawn 1-1. Arun Saha of Sporting Union was given marching order.

Soccer meet in the hills

Thirty schools from Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Sikkim will be seen in action in an inter-school meet to be held at the Bhaichung Bhutia Stadium in south Sikkim from Saturday to September 7.    

Calcutta, Aug. 20: 
Local girl Divya Chaddha put up an impressive performance at the world junior rowing championships held at Duisburg in Germany from 6th to 11th August.

She teamed up with Gurpreet Kaur of Chandigarh in the doubles sculling event and was placed 21st in the world. The 16-year old, studying in class XI of La Martiniere for Girls� School, was part of a four-member team comprising two girls and two boys that represented India at the world meet. The boys� team represented by Harish Chandra and Ashish Singh, both from the Army, finished 23rd overall.

Divya participated in the district aquatic championships today. Pursuing swimming along with her knack for rowing, Divya won three golds at the event. She came first in the 50, 100 and 200 metre backstroke events.

Murshidabad swimming

Nineteen men, including two from Bangladesh, and one woman have entered the Murshidabad Swimming Club-organised long-distance river competition competition on the Ganges next Sunday.

Mohammed Selim Ahmed and Mohammed Bin Islam are the Bangladeshi participants, while Kanak Biswas of Noapada Swimming Club is the female competitor.


Calcutta, Aug. 20: 
The Independence Cup, last Thursday, lived up to its past reputation of producing upset winners. So much so, that none of the horses occupying the top four slots had found favour with the paying public that stood firmly behind Mr Bombshell and Actress. Incidentally, the two fancied horses finished fifth and sixth respectively, while a lesser fancied Ballet Master walked away with the trophy.

The fact that the Master had disappointed as a favourite in his earlier two starts, the victory of the Daniel David-trained four-year-old colt could hardly be predicted, though it is assumed that he revelled in the pouring rain. Nevertheless, the Conquering Hero-Scossa son was right at his task from the start of the race as jockey Paul Kujur had him settled behind stable-mate Bold Apparel � doing duty as a pacemaker after his sensational upset a fortnight ago. The Master assumed the charge of running from the top of the straight and he never looked to be in trouble. Between Solo Act and Grand Lodge who filled the minor slots, it was the latter who impressed as an improved horse and could surprise soon.

The afternoon�s card was packed with upper class trophy events like the Class I, Gamble for Love Cup and the Class II La Gitana Cup in addition to the Independence Cup which happened to be for horses in Class III. It was the Gamble For Love Cup that produced a thriller with stable-mates Alyssum and Anolini, from Vijay Singh�s yard, fighting a keen battle with the hot-favourite Clarice Cliff in the final-furlong. The verdict, however, favoured Alyssum who had handed a narrow beating to the Cliff in their last encounter. In fact, the Steinbeck-Ghanayem five-year-old looked to be fittest of the three horses who lined up for the camera-finish as Anolini needed the run, while Clarice Cliff appeared to be dry-coated in patches.

It was no race for the consistent and the courageous Lockers Park, a money-minting machine from trainer Bharath Singh�s yard who made a mockery of the field in the 1,800m La Gitana Cup. However, luck also favoured the 6-4 public-choice, by Batzushka out of Fusion, as Aldebro shortened strides after making all the running, thanks to his burst vessels. No Regrets collared the troubled Vijay Singh-trainee inside the last furlong.

The speedy three-year-old Alegria was ridden in a check in the first half of the 1,100m Kipling Handicap for a fruitful result. The half-money favourite from Vijay�s stable allowed Storm Trooper to cut a convenient pace before taking over nearing the home turn for a fluent five-length-plus victory.

Having shared the prize with Black Mane in his last outing, the Harvinder Singh Bath-trained Rheinheart was a transformed horse upon promotion as he whipped his six rivals to two-and-half length victory in the 1,400m Esmon Handicap.

The rain which begun minutes before the starter dispatched the Independence Cup, turned in to a heavy downpour as the baby-race � the Mount Everest Handicap � time approached. Nevertheless, it was the favourite Alcalde who delivered the goods despite speculation that the Bharath Singh-trainee may be hard-put to carry his heavy impost of 60 kg in the prevailing conditions. The Rebounding thrill-Nimble three-year-old won far more easily than the official verdict of a �neck� from a late finishing Regency Times.


Calcutta, Aug. 20: 
The two Heritage buildings of the Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) � the racecourse in Khidderpore and the club house in Russell Street � will be beautified before the start of the winter racing season in early November, according to Vineet Verma, ceo and secretary of the club. �it�s a race against time but the stewards feel that the process of preservation of the near century old buildings must get the top priority. Beautification of the two historical structures is the part of preservation,� said Verma.

The race club also plans to bring the winter season�s stakes at par with Mumbai and Pune. �It may cost us a small fortune but the city racing has to be brought to back to it�s old glory. The stewards have drawn up time bound sche-mes and the forthcoming winter season will be something with a difference,� added Verma.

Although the last year�s Breeze Up Auction Sales turned out to be a disappointing effort, the stewards are also making sure that their second venture on October 21 is a big hit. Direct entries to the sales apart, club on its own plans to buy a sufficient number of horses and put them to auction. There will be no reserve price and every lot will come under the hammer. In fact, they have already acquired half-a-dozen of raceworthy young horses from Western India and negotiations are afoot for an equal number of decent lots. �We have two months time at hand. and we may achieve the target,� added Verma. He, however, was unwilling to divulge names of horses under negotiations.


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