After the encouraging performances by the senior cricketers in Bangladesh winning the Tri Nation Tournament, it is now time for the young ones to put their hands up as they participate in the all important ICC youth world cup in New Zealand. Though the closest the Sri Lankans have got to winning the trophy was when they were runners up under Malintha Gajanayake in 2001, it is felt that the current squad ably led by Chatura Peries has an excellent chance of winning it in 2010. In a tournament where most teams are almost equal in strength, it is the teams with tougher mentality and maturity that are bound to succeed.
From a Sri Lankan perspective it is evident that they definitely have it in abundance. After a tough tour down under when the young Lankans got the better of the Australian counterparts and then after a pretty strenuous tour of South Africa with mixed success one feels that the Sri Lankan lads are sufficiently focused to have a crack at the plum.
One of the greatest assets that Sri Lankan’s could boast of is the experience in the Coaching staff. With the presence of the dynamic Aravinda De Silva who definitely knows a thing or two not just on batting but on strategy too and the expertise of the Head Coach Naveed Nawaz is bound to be crucial in the final outcome of the tournament.
Led by the talented all rounder Chathura Peries the start for the Lankans have so far been very encouraging. Bowling with decent pace and creating a difficult angle with his seam and swing young Peries has been a major threat to the opposing batsmen. Whilst he was virtually unplayable against Zimbabwe, his spell against Canada was as effective.
Free from injury young Peries can develop in to a very fine all rounder in the years to come.
Charith Jayampathi’s bounce and aggression is a key component in the make up of the Sri Lankan bowling in New Zealand currently. Built very similar to the lanky Sri Lanka all rounder Nuwan Zoysa, Jayampathi can get disconcerting lift off the pitch and could be very difficult to handle on any surface. His extra inches have been more than useful as he puts it to very good effect when bowling left arm over the wicket creating the wicked angle to the right hander.
Whilst it has been just those two in the bowling so far as the others haven’t really been called to show their mettle, the batting has seen the class of Bhanuka Rajapakse. Against Zimbabwe young Rajapakse was all class and elegance with some exquisite shots on both sides of the wicket helping Sri Lanka to canter home with plenty of time to spare. It was heartening to witness almost the entire top order coming into form against Canada with Rajapakse again the stand out performer with another stylish half century confirming the abundance of talent he posses!The real test for the Lankans will be when they take on the Kiwis the home team in seamer friendly conditions, where the Kiwis are masters at exploiting it. After which it will be the quarter final stage. With proper planning and coaching and performance such as this, one could safely predict that the young Lankans should move forward.
And on the subject of coaching it was just last week that we witnessed the sad passing away of the former Sri Lankan and Josephian great Fairlie Dalpadado. Having represented the college and the country with distinction Dalpadado was one of the top coaches at his alma mater. It was during his stint from 1980 that yours truly had the great privilege of being tutored on the finer points of this great game in the company of some great Josephian cricketers of yesteryear out which the likes of Nirmalal Perera, Ashley De Silva, Hiran Cooray, Rohan Wijesinghe and Dilip De S Wijeratne were notable. Though the affable Mr. Dalpadado didn’t posses the levels such as 1, 2 or 3 in coaching (with no disrespect meant to the coaches possessing such qualifications), his methods were both practical and rewarding. A lover of leg spin bowling Dalpadado had the habit of spending hours with such a kind helping them to hone in on their skills whilst he was equally sound with fast bowling and batting producing many talented cricketers during his era.
At a time when modern coaching appears to be moving towards producing cricketers more mechanical than anything else the likes of the late Fairlie Dalpadado was a master at identifying natural talent and harnessing it. The passing away of this true sportsman is a sad loss which will be mourned by all, both present and past, young and old, for generations to come. May his soul be granted eternal salvation!
Roshan Abeysinghe is a leading cricket promoter and an international cricket commentator