It was rather early in the day when I flew out of Christchurch. In mid-country the sky beneath the plane was a sea of clouds. Then suddenly, I saw the row of snow covered mountain peaks jutting out of the clouds like the giant’s kingdom in the sky, where Jack who climbed the bean stalk [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Crucified at Christchurch: Rise and get on with the job


It was rather early in the day when I flew out of Christchurch. In mid-country the sky beneath the plane was a sea of clouds. Then suddenly, I saw the row of snow covered mountain peaks jutting out of the clouds like the giant’s kingdom in the sky, where Jack who climbed the bean stalk and slew the monster that was after him.

Anyhow I was not in the right frame of mind for fairy tales as the day before the Kiwis had heckled the Lions and battered them badly. The hurt was more inside than what was seen outwardly. Like the fabled Jack, the New Zealanders slew the Lankans who earlier had battered them at World Cup events more frequently than not.

May be at the Hagley Stadium, the prevailing conditions were not the most conducive for outdoor cricket. At around 14 degrees centigrade the tropical human bodies do not function at premium capacity.

May be their bowling ace Lasith Malinga is hugely short of match practice, and will need at least another two games to walk back into his normal stride.

Yet, in the manner that the Lankans got about their game there was something amiss. At no given moment did they show that they were on the top of the situation. Not even at the time when Dilshan and Thirimanne were batting — putting on that half century opening stand. When Thirimanne and Sangakkara put on their impressive stand, once again they showed that they had wrested control of the game.

Someone asked if Thirimanne and Dilshan had exchanged their roles in the approach. Thirimanne was the aggressor and Dilshan was looking as if he was going to build the Lankan innings around him. Yet, it was Dilshan who surrendered to the opposition offering a nowhere shot.
From the beginning, they had drooping shoulders, minus the usual Lankan sparkle in their eyes and more importantly the body language that spells and shouts out loud “Hey, the rest of the World, we are on our way”. We’ve seen many a time before while training and while engaging in their other activities with that wry smile oozing with confidence.

It is that sparkle in the Lankan eyes that we are searching for.

The day before the game, the Lankan team was at practices. After a short stint at the middle, they moved on to the side nets. The whole contingent was at work while fast bowling coach Chaminda Vaas remained in the middle with a wicket keeper and seamer Nuwan Kulasekera, they looked a duo that had lost the plot, but, the next day Kulasekera played.

Also at the nets were the big guns. Fast bowling consultant Rumesh Ratnayake feverishly was working with the bowlers, Chief Selector Sanath

Kumar Sangakkara is congratulated by his team-mates after taking a catch, in the World Cup opener against New Zealand

Jayasuriya was darting his wily left arm spinners like a current player at the batsmen occupying the crease, at the other end. Besides, Vaas everyone else looked busy, but still what I read from the body language was that something was radically wrong.

Once again I repeat, for a team that played more one-day internationals than any other team in 2014, things can’t go so sour so soon, if all the cogs are well oiled and the engine is tuned.

Sometimes I hear children of broken families more often tend to go astray. Likewise is it the squabble at the top of the cricket administration that is cascading on to the middle?

Even one of the new Sports Minister’s six cricket administration precepts read as “Thou shall not employ relatives”. Without much ado one can point the finger and say, where it is aimed at.

Everyone in the administration knows what the relationship is and where it is hurting.Even we at this end believe that if a wrong has been committed it must be properly investigated and the wrong doers properly booked. But, what happened here is that when the finger is pointed at an important cog in the team wheel, panic sets in. When panic sets in one loses the control of his sane faculties.

However, we at this end believe, that this was not the most opportune moment to highlight that particular clause. When it was done the Lankan cricketers and the team management were readying themselves for the World Cup. We feel that they should have left alone at least till the day we all belong – April 1.

Imagine what happened on Monday. Minnows, Ireland made the West Indian bowling attack look idiotic. Definitely the West Indian cricket story is not all hunky dory. The administrative bungling had taken West Indian cricket right into the woods.

Individually West Indians Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Darren Sammy are some of the most explosive batsmen in the world, while Jerome Taylor, Jason Holder are bowlers who easily can touch 145+. They do have the necessary ammunition to spin out a winning combination, but, they keep producing unproductive blank bullets that are not productive to the team’s cause, but, are automatic choices in the Indian IPL market. For some cricketers of the dozen West Indian islands that is more than enough.

Just take a look at the Lankan team, T.M. Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena, Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath – are genuine match winners at that level of the game. This means more than half the Lankan present composition have the capability to take us where we need to go. To back it they also have the necessary credentials to back the claim. Added to the above lot not so long ago was Nuwan Kulasekera who was the top bowler in the ICC ODI rankings. The rest of the world knows about the capabilities of Thisara Perera, yet he cannot find a place in the playing Xl.

If the Lankans side can afford the luxury of dropping a player with the potential talent of Thisara Perera, then why can’t they win? Who is responsible for putting wrong values into Perera’s young head?

Even some of the senior players are throwing caution to the wind. They too are attempting to pick old bones when their part of the cricket bargain is to do better than they did in 2011.

Why is this sordid saga taking place now? Is it because there is uncertainty at the top?

Whoever took the minister through the cricket affairs has swept the dust on to the surface, but, the vacuuming should have been done a while later.

Anyway, the Lankans have two rather easy games – Afghanistan and Bangladesh at hand before they take on England who are also going through a rough patch.

Hopefully if sanity could prevailand the Lankans begin to believe in themselves — it is not too late for redemption.

PS: We learned it at the hands of Zimbabwe. Then Ireland further proved that fact. Never under estimate your opponent, like Goliath did against puny David.

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