Sri Lanka in with a good chance - Letter
At the time of writing and, as these words go to Press, Mahela Jayawardena and his Merrymen have suffered a slight setback in a preliminary round match against the New Zealanders. As a much traveled patriotic sportsman of half a century ago I consider it an inconsequential hiccup.
Having turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to one-day cricket for a quarter of a century this writer has yielded to the new and decided to focus on the modern format.
Presidents and Prime Ministers of our resplendent isle have not covered themselves with glory when appointing Sports Ministers, especially those enthroned this past decade. They have been perfect examples of square pegs in round holes! That cricketers and a few other sportsmen and women of different disciplines have won medals at international meets are a direct tribute to determination and dedication by the rice and curry lads and lasses of Lanka. Sports Ministers and their acolytes in the Ministry can claim no credit but only bask in the reflected glory which they are highly efficient at.
And now to World Cup 2007! Disregarding the evaluations of more renowned and acclaimed scribes this writer confidently predicts a repeat World Cup victory for Mahela and his troupe. Furthermore our giant neighbour across the Palk Strait, I suspect, will be the other finalist. The much helped Aussies will remain an ‘also ran’.
The grounds for such confidence are set out below. Mahela is an intelligent and aggressive skipper. He has in Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas two exceptional; bowlers who are the envy of captains around the world. Both men possess the twin virtues of line and length and, additionally, cricketing wisdom beneath their caps. The highly unorthodox ‘slinger’ Lasitha Malinga has displayed immense improvement since joining the national squad and is a credit to his coach. I would, however, entrust the new ball to Fervez Mahroof, while all other ‘quickies’ warm the benches!
The availability of a succession of violent and explosive stroke-players, headed by the inimitable ‘Mauler from Matara’, Sanath Jayasuriya, is Lanka’s forte. Imagine the line-up. Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena, Chamara Silva, Marvan Atapattu, Tilekeratne Dilshan, Russel Arnold or Malinga Bandara, Fervez Mahroof, Chaminda Vaas and Murali. This would be my line-up for the final – all being fit and well. The inclusion of Arnold or Bandara would hinge on the number of lefhanders/righthanders in the opposition ranks. And to add strength to my prophetic vision is the quality of Lanka’s allround fielding, catching and throwing. Without a shadow of doubt they are the finest of the finest!
And now to the other side of the coin! I express dismay, disappointment and disgust at the antics of the Sri Lanka Cricket Interim Committee. I refer, in particular, to the wanton waste of cricket funds to end no less than four of its members on an all expenses paid holiday to the West Indies, in addition to the four official invitees. Such squandering of funds gives validity to the accusation that parasites parade the portals of power at Maitland Place! One may be excused for concluding that the Interim Committee is following in the foot-steps of the Presidential Secretariat and the Sports Ministry in promoting ‘boot lickers’ for foreign tours. Did not the same Interim Committee and Sports Ministry point an accusing finger against the democratically elected Exco in the recent past, with a similar allegation?
Another valid query from the cricketing populace is directed towards the national selectors. Why, oh why do they repeatedly ignore young talent and persist with tried, tested and failed “Over Thirties” in the “A” – team? The “A”-team should serve as a stepping-stone for youngsters to attain National honours. The present practice would ensure that Sri Lanka are strong favourites for a World Senior Citizens Cup!