Society Magazine

Lankan Cricket Turmoil ! - Remember MJ Gopalan Trophy ? ! ?

Posted on the 24 November 2022 by Sampathkumar Sampath

Do you know or remember the famous MJ Gopalan and the trophy named after him ?  .. have seen him walk on the roads of Triplicane, a few decades ago !!

Lankan Cricket turmoil !  -  remember MJ Gopalan Trophy ? ! ?

Srilanka is in turmoil and its Cricket is in shambles … they did not perform well in ICC T20WC – and that is not all .  .. Chamika Karunaratne has been handed a one-year suspended ban by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) after a disciplinary inquiry of the board found him guilty of breaching the player agreement - the exact nature of the violation has not been made public - during the recent men's T20 World Cup in Australia.  Karunaratne, the 26-year-old allrounder, was also fined US$5000 after pleading guilty to the charges.  The sentence on Karunaratne has come in the wake of team-mate Danushka Gunathilaka's arrest in Australia on charges of sexual assault. Gunathilaka is currently out on bail.  

Not many would have followed the 1st Test at Galle I July 2022 .. Test no. 2472 – an enthralling result on the final day.  The scorecard reads :   Sri Lanka -= 222 & 337;  Pakistan -  218 & 344/6 -  Pakistan won by 4 wickets.   

Kurunegala electoral district is one of the 22 multi-member electoral districts of Sri Lanka created by the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka.  Nalin Nilantha Bandara Wijerathna Jayamaha Hitihamilage represents this seat -  ( current member of parliament for Kurunegala District, a member of the United National Party. 

A tense final morning, in which Pakistan had 120 to get with seven wickets in hand, began with the closest call. Mohammad Rizwan, coming forward to a Prabath Jayasuriya delivery, saw the ball slip between bat and pad before passing within a couple of centimetres of the off bail.  Then there was the rain. A large black cloud parked itself over the stadium when Pakistan had about 25 to get. Not willing to let his almost 400-ball innings end in a rain-affected draw, Shafique came down the pitch and tried to launch Dhananjaya de Silva over deep midwicket, and only ended up skying it to Kasun Rajitha, who came in a few metres off the boundary and dropped it.

But through all this, though three wickets fell, and though Pakistan had to scrap for the last 40 runs, Shafique's continued presence meant that they always had the chase in hand.  With 11 required, the dark cloud that had forced a hurried shot out of Shafique unleashed a torrent. But the heavy rain lasted only minutes, and it soon became clear that play would resume, which it did following a delay of about 90 minutes. Shafique fittingly hit the winning runs, a slap through the covers to take him to 160 not out off 406.  

That was not an ordinary result, now it is alleged .. ..   Sri Lanka Cricket has invited Alex Marshall, the head of the ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit, to investigate allegations of match-fixing made in Sri Lanka's parliament. The allegation relates to the first Test of Pakistan's tour of Sri Lanka in July, when Pakistan chased down a target of 342 in the fourth innings, to go 1-0 up in the series. The claim was made by Member of Parliament Nalin Bandara, who said this in parliament earlier this month.  

"In the last Pakistan series, our team scored 400-odd [Sri Lanka had set a target of 342, a ground record if achieved], and still lost in the last innings. From the person who rolls the pitch, everyone has been given money. The board has become a gambling den." He offered no evidence to support his allegation, which came at the tail-end of a speech that had mostly referred to SLC's alleged mismanagement of its players. During the speech, Bandara also referenced an ongoing feud between himself and SLC president Shammi Silva.  As Bandara's speech is covered by parliamentary privilege, it is immune to libel and defamation suits. 

Now getting to the first para -   Cricket lovers of Tamil Nadu have enjoyed this.  Ceylon  was not an official Test playing nation until 1982.  The MJ Gopalan Trophy was held annually — with the venue alternating between Madras, as it was called then, and Colombo.  The tournament was suspended after 1982-83, with Sri Lanka acquiring Test status and the  ethnic crisis. Subsequent attempts to revive it were intermittent and eventually given up in the new millennium.  Ceylon  have won the trophy  10 times, Tamil Nadu 5 times, and 12 matches have been drawn.

Lankan Cricket turmoil !  -  remember MJ Gopalan Trophy ? ! ?

Decades ago, played MJ Gopalan, a double Inernational. Morappakam Josyam Gopalan  [1906 – 2003] represented India in cricket and hockey. When Ranji Trophy was inaugurated in 1934, MJ Gopalan delivered  the first ball of the  Ranji tournament. His only Test match was against England at Calcutta in early 1934.  In 1936 he was selected in the hockey team for the Berlin Olympics and the cricket team to tour England. It was known beforehand that Gopalan would have a small role to play in the England tour because of the presence of Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh. Still he chose the latter, which turned out to be a terrible decision. The hockey team captained by Dhyan Chand, one of the finest teams in the history of the sport, won the gold medal with little difficulty. As it turned out, Gopalan did not play a Test in England. The tour was marred by internal politics and the team returned in disgrace.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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