In Melbourne, Australia, last week the ICC or the Meiyappan/Srinivasan Inc. organised Future Tours Programme (FTP) discussions came to a conclusion. Here in earnest, the cricket’s Big Three that includes India, England and Australia found ways of how to disburse the crumbs from their own exploits, among the rest of the gang. For one thing [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

It was a good win but there are chinks in our armour


In Melbourne, Australia, last week the ICC or the Meiyappan/Srinivasan Inc. organised Future Tours Programme (FTP) discussions came to a conclusion. Here in earnest, the cricket’s Big Three that includes India, England and Australia found ways of how to disburse the crumbs from their own exploits, among the rest of the gang.

For one thing the ECB chairman Giles Clarke must be cursing himself for letting that naughty Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews go scot-free without a match suspension or a little more.

Jimmy.....Jimmy please dont cry

Making full use of the reprieve, Mathews led a fight back which culminated in Sri Lanka completing their first Test series win over England – with the victory in the ODI series win and the T-20 match being the icing on the cake.

The Englishmen should have changed their strategies. They should not have taken the risk of inviting those hyperactive Indian Ocean islanders during mid-summer once again – this time for three Tests in 2016. Instead they should have emulated the Australians and given Sri Lanka the honour of inaugurating England’s first Boxing Day Test.

As for the one that just finished it was an incredible win.

When the Test series began, even the English commentators did not give the Lankans a second thought. For them it was only a duty obligation by a secondhand Test playing nation which is trying to live with the Joneses. At times they were of the view that the pedestrian Lankan bowling attack was not overly better than that of Bangladesh. Leading the attack of words were scribes in the calibre of Scyld Berry, David Hopps and former England seamer Derek Pringle, among others.

Yet, by the second inning of the second Test, there were comparisons being made in the commentary box between the two bowling attacks and discussions about the effectiveness of the Lankan attack and their ploys over the ineffective English seam attack.
In honest words – man to man and skill the English pace attack is more experienced and more accomplished. Yet, the English attack tried to bounce the Lankan batting out of the face of the earth, while the Lankan seamers were upto the stumps with their skiddy pace giving the English batters always something to think of.

Yet, especially after a good result of this nature some may tend to think that there are no chinks in our armour and the Lankan cricket is indomitable. If so we may be sadly mistaken. We feel this is the most opportune time to stop and look inwards and tick off the slots where we were wrong and the slots where we went horribly wrong.

We could begin with the Atapattu slot. After the desertion of Paul Farbrace just weeks before the England tour, the Lankan cricket management was almost destitute and desperate. With the help of Farbrace they had drawn up a plan for some cricketers to go ahead of the real tour and play a few games, so that they could acclimatise themselves prior to the internationals. But, all systems went haywire; there was too short a notice for any foreigner to take over and the onus fell squarely on Marvan Atapattu who was the batting coach of the national squad.

When he was thrown the challenge, he took it up graciously and only asked for a chance to look after the side during a home series too — a wish that was granted. The first cricket guest in the early English summer is generally destitute. Not very many sides could adapt themselves to the conditions and the Lankans who always get this part of the English summer had poor credentials. Naturally, Marvan too was not sure of what to expect. It was the first time that he was wearing the coache’s cap fully. Besides he was also mindful that there were influential insiders who were of the view that he may find it difficult to take control over the side that included his former teammates like Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara and T.M. Dilshan. So the line that Marvan pulled was fairly brittle.

Yet, there was also a certain segment who argued that Marvan’s ex-team mates are hardcore professionals who are doing their home run in their illustrious careers. Like the T-20 World Cup win, a Test series win England is another sentence in gold in their long profile. Why should they do anything to jeopardise their profile? For them wins mean a lot. Old bones or differences – they can afford to confine them to private meetings.

Then on the down side what gains have Sri Lanka made on the batting field? The two princes in attendance — Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal — are struggling. What has the coaching department inculcated in the two young lads? They are supposed to fit into the shoes of Mahela and Sangakkara, but, after almost three years the two youngsters are trying hard to have a foothold in the playing XI. At this stage of a career of any international cricketer, the coaches are supposed to make those small adjustments that matter. Have those adjustments being made? If so where are the results?

In bowling the Lankan attack did well to beat England in their home soil. One of the main reasons for Sri Lanka to win is that right at this moment England have lost the art of winning. Success eludes them. They have the wherewithal to survive ninety overs, but not the last two balls that matter.

On the other hand the Lankans are on a wave. At the initial stages in Bangladesh they struggled, but, managed to end up on the winning side. They began to build on it and winning then came by habit. For proof they have brought the Asia Cup and the World T-20 trophy to Maitland Place.

For England the Ashes victim seniors are still suffering from that shock. But the young brood is up and alert.

Almost all the young batsmen on profile – Garry Ballance, Sam Robson and Moeen Ali who have played less than five Tests scored centuries against the Sri Lankan attack. Besides, another English youngster Joe Root took off a double hundred.

The Lankan seamers bowled with discipline, with Eranga and Pradeep leading the pack. Though Dhammika Prasad bagged a five in the second Test, he still has a long way to reach the levels of Eranga and Pradeep. But, did Eranga and Pradeep at any time hound a batsman, work on him and get him out the way skipper Angelo Mathews does? What Sri Lanka need is a bowler who bowls at 85+ and think like Mathews. Thank god the two openers – Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva are adequate. But, once again the batting cart was put on the road by the aging horses Sangakkara and Mahela with skipper stallion Mathews also throwing his bat in.

In spin, Herath is aging. But, Dilruwan Perera is no Herath. Senanayake has a 15 degree charge, which he has to prove innocent.
Unlike the Big Three, sides like Sri Lanka have to gear themselves to perform at the top of their game at every given moment in international cricket. Sri Lanka’s cricket does not have the luxury of taking a step back and making adjustments like England are doing now. The moment Sri Lanka take a step back, the Big Three will pounce on them and devour with glee. Just see we are the only side around at present which has the spunk to beat any side in any segment of the game. Then we are the ones who have to be careful and keep our standards.

Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.