The Triangular series involving Sri Lanka, India and New Zealand worked off in Dambulla has now concluded. It will be both interesting and also pertinent to examine the learning’s of the teams ahead of the all important cricket World Cup which is due to happen during the early months of 2011.
I am sure there could be many positives that the teams could take with them along with some very key learning which could be used for their future games in the overall context of winning the world cup.
From the outset the one big question mark was about the batting of the teams! With the result in most games being hugely one sided it wasn’t surprising when the pitch was a point of discussion. Was this the ideal pitch to bat on? Does this help the batsman’s confidence? Or is it good for the game of 50over cricket? These were definitely some of the questions that were constantly discussed. Having said that it was also quite clear that the individual brilliance of Virender Sehwag was able to overcome any difficulty of the pitches provided there were any.
|Another wicket falls at the Dambulla Stadium
Knowledgeable critics and commentators such as Mike Haysman, Danny Morrison and Sri Lanka’s own Russell Arnold were all of the view that pitches of this nature is good for the game. “Pitches around the world are generally flat and have plenty of runs in them.
But the pitches provided for the Triangular series were the type that challenged the batsman” this was the view expressed by Mike Haysman whilst Russell Arnold felt that that the pitches in Dambulla had improved over time.
“Pitches over the years at Dambulla have improved and I believe it’s good for the game. It is a test of perseverance, skill and courage” Danny Morrison the former Kiwi fast bowler was of the view that “Pitches in Dambulla was nice and hard and had an even covering of grass”
But despite all these positive sentiments expressed the batting was found wanting in almost every game by one side or the other. It is also safe to state that every team has had an up and down tournament and have either won handsomely or lost badly. One of the foremost factors for the batting collapses has been the seam and swing that has been generated coupled with pace and bounce! Whilst the Indian fast bowlers relied almost entirely on seam and swing the taller and slower Kiwi quick’s added another dimension to it in the form of bounce. For Sri Lanka it has been the pace and movement of Lasith Malinga that has unsettled the batsmen with Thisara Perera’s exceptional spell in the last game being the undoing of the Indian batsmen.
In that scenario with challenging pitches available one would expect quality players to shine. Of course Sehwag has been the exception whilst one has seen a glimpse of the quality of the likes of Sangakkara, Jayawardane, Dilshan and Tharanga from Sri Lanka and from Taylor, Styris and Watling from New Zealand though none of them would be happy with their consistency levels.
“The top order batsmen didn’t respect the bowling enough on these surfaces in the first ten to fifteen overs and therefore were undone by the movement through the air and off the deck. The pitch which was provided in the series has badly exposed the frailties of some batsmen and in no way have the batting collapses reflected the state of the pitch” stated Mike Haysman.
Russell Arnold the former Sri Lankan batsman felt that the reason for the low scores could be attributed to the fact that the “batsmen didn’t apply themselves properly on these pitches. One needed to attack the bowling no doubt but it doesn’t need to be an all out attack. The singles are very important too. The best example for this was the manner Sehwag built his innings of ninety nine not out against Sri Lanka restraining himself and then looking to attack when the opportunity permitted. “Another point that made the batsmen struggle was the very strong wind that was always prevalent and made varying speeds at the two ends”.
Danny Morrison was of the view that none of the teams should worry too much about the pitch as the chances of getting similar surfaces in the world cup is very remote. “Lets face it in the first place we will not have any world cup games here and there wont be pitches of this nature at other grounds. The main objective of the three teams obviously was to look at fresh talent and provide opportunities and the exposure”.
Interesting views from people who know a thing or two about cricket! But the utmost in the list of objectives is naturally the world cup. The question that will provide us an answer in the lead up and in the world cup is has the players understood their weak areas and have they learned from it? Are the mistakes being repeated? It brings me to the old saying which states “Making a mistake is good but to make the same mistake over and over again is what is bad” let’s hope from a Sri Lankan point of view the mistakes will be far and few and will not be repeated.
* Roshan Abeysinghe is a leading cricket promoter and an international cricket commentator