Sri Lanka’s Lakmal replaces banned Chandimal as skipper

Suranga Lakmal of Sri Lanka (Randy Brooks / AFP)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Sri Lanka’s Lakmal replaces banned Chandimal as skipper

  • The West Indies are 1-0 up in the series with the final match, the first ever day-night Test in the Caribbean, due to begin later on Saturday in Barbados
  • Earlier this year, Australian cricket was rocked to its foundations after a player was caught applying sandpaper to the ball in a match in South Africa

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Saturday named Suranga Lakmal as skipper for the potentially series-saving third Test against the West Indies after Dinesh Chandimal lost his appeal against a one-match ban for ball tampering.
“Lakmal was appointed as the captain, in the absence of Dinesh Chandimal,” Sri Lanka Cricket said in a brief statement, without commenting on Chandimal’s case.
The West Indies are 1-0 up in the series with the final match, the first ever day-night Test in the Caribbean, due to begin later on Saturday in Barbados.
Chandimal, 28, was given the ban after being spotted by television cameras during the second Test applying saliva to the ball, apparently with a sweet in his mouth.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Friday dismissed Chandimal’s appeal. A fine of 100 percent of his match fee and two suspension points were also upheld.
Chandimal, coach Chandika Hathurusingha and manager Asanka Gurusinha also face possible disciplinary action after refusing to take to the field for two hours after the incident.
The three admitted on Friday “conduct... contrary to the spirit of the game” and will face a preliminary ICC hearing on July 10.
Hathurusinghe and Gurusinha were on Friday however allowed to continue to perform their duties in the meantime, including in the third Test.
Chandimal’s ban is the latest blow to Sri Lankan cricket following a string of defeats — including a Test and one-day whitewash to India — and corruption allegations.
Earlier this year, Australian cricket was rocked to its foundations after a player was caught applying sandpaper to the ball in a match in South Africa.
Steve Smith and David Warner were stripped of the captaincy and vice-captaincy respectively and banned from playing international cricket for 12 months.


Aussie ace Matt Jurman says Slaven Bilic will get Al-Ittihad ‘back where they belong’

Updated 7 min 54 sec ago
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Aussie ace Matt Jurman says Slaven Bilic will get Al-Ittihad ‘back where they belong’

  • Al-Ittihad defender Matt Jurman has backed Slaven Bilic to turn things around for the club
  • A disastrous start to the season has left Al-Ittihad rock bottom of the Saudi Pro League table

KUWAIT CITY: Al-Ittihad defender Matt Jurman has backed Slaven Bilic to turn things around for the club, predicting his new coach can inject some much-needed confidence into the team.
A disastrous start to the season has left Al-Ittihad rock bottom of the Saudi Pro League table with one draw and four losses from their opening five games.
Ramon Diaz was sacked as coach after just two matches, with Bilic (below) parachuted in three weeks ago to replace the Argentine.
The first game of his reign ended in defeat away to Al-Fateh and on Friday they drew 1-1 at home with Ohod, but Australian Jurman, who moved to Al-Ittihad from Suwon Bluewings in the summer, believes it is only a matter of time before Bilic transforms the club’s fortunes.
“It’s not a situation I’ve seen before, a coach being sacked after only two games,” Jurman told Arab News. “It shows that it is cut-throat here but the players and coaches have to respond positively to that pressure.
“A club the size of Al-Ittihad has to be winning games and I think that Bilic and his coaching staff will take us in the right direction. It’s mentally tough when you keep losing, but we have great players in the team and we know we should be higher than where we are.
“We just need more belief and I certainly feel the new coach will give us that. Then I’m sure we’ll shoot up the table.”
On a personal level, Jurman now has the opportunity to work with a coach who enjoyed a distinguished career playing in his position. An uncompromising center-back, Bilic reached the World Cup semifinals with Croatia in 1998 and also played in the Premier League with Everton and West Ham.
“He’s right up there with the best coaches in the league and of course was a great player,” Jurman said. “Obviously he played in my position so I’m excited to learn from him and I’m sure he can help make me a better player.
“It’s been a difficult start to the season but now we can look forward and I’m sure that the new coach and his staff are going to get us back on track.”
Jurman made a bold career move by deciding to swap Suwon Bluewings for Al-Ittihad in July after a successful 18-month stint in South Korea.
But despite the tough introduction to life in Saudi football, the Australia international insisted he has no regrets.
“It’s been a big change coming to Saudi Arabia. Training at night, the temperatures we’re playing in every week — these things take time to get used to. But it’s a great opportunity to experience a culture I’ve never seen before.
“It would have been easy to stay in Korea but when you get a call saying one of the biggest clubs in the Middle East are interested in you, it’s a no-brainer. I was told about the Pro League expansion, how they wanted more foreigners on each team.
“I knew I was going to play against quality players, quality strikers — I wanted to come and test myself.”
As well as enjoying the challenge on the pitch, Jurman has been particularly impressed by the fans off it, playing in front of some huge crowds at King Abdullah Sports City.
“Al-Ittihad is such a big club and even at our away games, our fans usually outnumber the home team. Seeing that type of support is fantastic. The fans are crazy, the best supporters I’ve seen.
“It seems you can’t go anywhere in Jeddah without finding an Al-Ittihad fan and that’s been eye-opening, to see just how much they love football in Saudi Arabia.”
Jurman was not the only Australian to arrive in Saudi Arabia this summer, with Socceroos goalkeeper Brad Jones moving to Al-Nassr from Feyenoord.
And after fellow Aussie Mark Milligan’s summer departure from Al-Ahli, Jurman has been grateful to have another compatriot to speak to.
“I chatted to Mark after our last game in Russia at the World Cup and he helped me make up my mind to move here. He was living in Jeddah too so it was a real shame that he left soon after. The new coach came in there and that’s how it works sometimes in football.
“Now Brad is here too and that’s been great. We’re always chatting on WhatsApp, talking about life and how we’re settling in. It’s always good to have that kind of support.
“Unfortunately for me, Brad’s team is flying at the moment. But I’m sure that before long we’ll turn things round at Al-Ittihad and then we can both be up there.”