DS to take on Jaffna lads!

by Russell Palipane

Former Sri Lanka leg spin maestro, D. S. de Silva, an old boy of Mahinda College, Galle, was appointed Advisor for Cricket and Sports, by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The President handed over the appointment letter to D. S. De Silva on December 18, at Temple Trees, in Colombo.
(Pic by Chandana Perera)

Former Sri Lanka leg spinner, Somachandra de Silva, who hails from southern Sri Lanka, and played in Sri Lanka’s inaugural Test against England, at the Colombo Oval, in 1982, who was appointed cricket advisor to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, last week, has been tasked with developing and spreading the game in the country's war-hit north and north-eastern regions.

The move was part of the president's initiative to try and increase the representation of players of Tamil-speaking origin in the national team.

DS, who played 12 Tests for Sri Lanka and captained in two of them, was appointed on the basis of his experience in coaching school teams in Sri Lanka and England.

The president was keen on tapping into the talent at the school level in these parts, where no first-class cricket is played.

The Sri Lanka side currently has one player of Tamil origin in off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who recently broke the world record for the most number of wickets in Tests.

A vast majority of the players are from the southern and central parts of the country and the same regions regularly host international games.

"The president is aware Sri Lanka will soon have to have replacements for star performers like Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas if it is to retain its top position," AHM Azwer, a Tamil commentator and a presidential advisor on media, was quoted as having told the IANS news service.

Muralitharan is after all a Tamil of Indian origin. President Rajapaksa is keen on building a stadium of international standard in the northern town of Jaffna, where cricket is quite popular.

His interest in the game is well known, and he recently inaugurated the new pavilion at the Galle International Stadium, a ground ravaged by the tsunami of December 2004.

"The people of Jaffna are cricket crazy," Azwer said.

"They can make excellent fast bowlers because they are hard working,” added Azwer.

Jaffna lads have learnt to work and play under harsh climatic conditions.

Sri Lanka is yet to produce a leg spinner of the calibre of DS, though the winsome Muttiah Muralitharan, who hit the scene as just an off spinner, more than compensates for that with his guile and versatality.


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