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Red-letter day for Moors SC today

 

by Sa'adi Thawfeeq - Daily News Fri Apr 4 2003

 

Today is a red-letter day in the annals of Moors Sports Club who will be celebrating their maiden triumph in division I club cricket with a grand dinner attended by a host of dignitaries at their club pavilion at Braybrooke Place.

For the 95 years they have been in existence, Moors SC had never tasted success as during the recently concluded 2002-03 domestic cricket season where they went on to clinch the Blue Riband of division I club cricket - the Premier trophy.

Over the years Moors SC had been a force to be reckoned with, but they showed only glimpses of what they are capable of and, whenever it came to the crunch games they were known to wilt. Not so this time around.

Under the able leadership of former Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, and with the guidance of former captain and coach cum player Chandika Hathurusingha, the club raised their standard of cricket to a new high to record four successive outright wins over Panadura SC, Galle CC, BRC and Colts to earn a semi-final place. This was achieved after they had lost their first three games of the season (on first innings) to NCC, SSC and CCC. But where it mattered most Moors SC was able to turn things around. They knocked out CCC (on the first innings) in the semi-finals, and then went onto score a thrilling one-wicket win over Bloomfield in the four-day final played at the R. Premadasa Stadium to clinch the title.

If Moors SC is celebrating its first-ever title win in a big way, no one can begrudge them that. They deserve every bit of their success.

Apart from Hathurusingha who made over 800 runs and captured 30 wickets, there were other individual performances of brilliance like the 800-plus runs scored by former Colts all-rounder Bathiya Perera and the success of their two new ball bowlers left-armer Nandika Ranjith who took 49 wickets for the season and Chanuka Welagedera who finished with 38 wickets.

However individual brilliance was not sufficient to bring the kind of success they had achieved. The Moors SC also had a sound set of selectors comprising A.R.M. Arooz, A.K.M. Rizwie, K.S.M. Zarook and Dr. Aziz Mubarak, father of Sri Lanka batsman Jehan Mubarak.

These four men along with the captain and coach were able to pick the right combination to bring them the required wins. For years, Moors SC had been beset with internal problems over selection, but no so this time.

"One of the key reasons for our success was the 100 percent discipline maintained at all times. We must take our hats off to Hathurusingha for that," said Arooz, a former Moors SC captain and present ground secretary.

It was due to Arooz's efforts that Moors SC veered away from their usual practice of preparing slow pitches to one with grass and pace, which eventually paid dividends. Arooz had been in the business of preparing pitches for the past 16 years, but what brought him great satisfaction was to see his own club players putting the opposition to the sword and making maximum use of the strip, which he had laboured to produce.

Incentives for the players were also doubled from what it was the previous years and they lived upto the challenge thrown to them by the Moors SC hierarchy when they said they would stand to win Rs. 11.2 million or a trip to Sharjah if they won the title.

"The players took up the challenge and won us our first major trophy, but we had to cancel the Sharjah trip due to the ongoing Gulf war, but the players will be given their Rs. 11.2 million," said Arooz.

Arooz said that the club spent close to Rs. 3.5 million on cricket alone for the season and the expenses included incentives of Rs. 6,000 per player per match and an additional Rs. 2,000 if they won outright and Rs. 1,000 if they won on first innings. "Such emoluments also gave the players the motivation to aim for higher honours," said Arooz.

At tonight's reception, a further Rs. 25,000 each will be presented to the Best Batsman, Best Bowler, Best Fielder and the Most Promising Young Cricketer the club has identified as those who deserve recognition for the contribution they've made during the season.

Throughout the season The Phone Company sponsored the club, which had under the presidency of Shafeek Rajabdeen, has expanded its sphere with the construction of a new scoreboard, a modern gymnasium, and upgraded pavilion and dressing rooms. They also have plans of starting work on a swimming pool shortly.

From small beginnings at no. 11, New Moor Street, Pettah in 1908, the Moors SC have made vast strides since moving to their present home at Braybrooke Place in 1931. Winning the Premier trophy would be just the catalyst they need to broaden their horizons further.