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7th May 2000
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Asia Cup cricket tournament commences on May 28 in Dhaka

Sri Lanka moves into the kill

By Jatila Karawita
'The World one day champions of 1996, who have been on a winning streak since August '99 will be the team to watch.'

The recent match-fixing issues has cast a pall over the cricketing scene and hereafter no one will be certain of an outcome of a game however thrilling it is. It is into this back-ground that defending Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka, fresh from their 3-0 one day and 2-1 Test series win over Pakistan a month ago will face a stern test when they fight to retain the premier limited overs title of the Sub-Continent during the Asia Cup quadrangular One Day tournament which gets underway on May 28 at Dhaka's Bangabandu National Stadium.

The World One Day champions of 1996, who have been on a winning streak since August '99 under new skipper Sanath Jayasuriya will be the team to watch this time, as their own brand of cavalier cricket, has captured the imagination of every cricket lover in this part of the world.

The Lankans who have been moulded into a professional outfit of late by their one-time World Cup winning coach Australian national Dave Whatmore, following their now infamous exit from the cricket World Cup in England last year, have brushed aside virtually every Test nation, with the exclusion of South Africa and West Indies in either format of the game, during a period of just seven months, and they are turning out to be a very formidable unit in world cricket. 

The Asia Cup winners of '97, will move into the kill this year, with an equally powerful XI boasting of such awe-inspiring names as Romesh Kaluwitharana, Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene, Russel Arnold,Thilakarathne Dilshan, Indika De Saram and Chamara Silva... leading the fireworks in the batting stakes. Their trump card in both versions of cricket is leading off spinner Muttaih Muralitheran, who was the architect behind their series triumph over Pakistan, will be the bogey man for Pakistan and India to counter, in their joint quest to wrest the title from the grasp of the Islanders.

Besides Murali, ace left arm speedster Chaminda Vaas, supported by the likes of Nuwan Soyza, Ravindra Pushpakumara, Pramodya Wickramasinghe, and leg spinner Upul Chandana, are all versatile enough in their own way to deliver the goods for the Sri Lankans in the bowling stakes when the occasion demands of them to do so. Sri Lanka's remarkable winning sequence, has seen them over-powering the likes of World Champions Australia and India, in both One day and Test cricket, followed by Zimbabwe, and Pakistan.

Pakistan under the new captaincy of wicket keeper bat Moin Khan, will also mount a strong challenge to the title quest, with a team that might as well go the distance in this tournament, if at all their recent performance are an indication to go by.

The Pakistanis who not so long ago, suffered one of their most humiliating defeats in 'Down Under', being dispatched by the Australians losing the Test series 3-0 and a One Day triangular subsequently, before being humbled by the Sri Lankans in their own backyard, have arrested that decline in style, to rise phoenix-like from the ashes so to say.

Pakistan who bounced back to thrash Sri Lanka by 222 runs in that third and final Test match at Karachi, have not looked back since, and their recent 2-1 series victory over West Indies in the 2000 trophy limited overs best of three final, confirmed the fact, that the volatile side from Pakistan are indeed back to their brilliant best.

Before their success in the Caribbean, they had also beaten the likes of South Africa and arch-rivals India a month ago to clinch the Sharjah Cup Trophy in another triangular tournament in their happy hunting ground in UAE, and the return to the top job of former skipper Javed Miandad as head coach, seems to have been the panacea to their cricketing ills of late.

The cricketers whom the Pakistanis will bank on, for success in the batting stakes will be, former Skipper Saeed Anwar, young prodigy Imran Nazeer, Shahid Afridi, Inzamam Ul Haq who is in the best form of his cricketing career now,Yousuf Youhana, Younis Khan, and Mohammed Wasim.

The bowling will be their biggest weapon as with such top notch names former skipper Wasim Akram, Waquar Younis, world's fastest bowler Shoib Akthar, Abdur Razaaq, joined by the deadly match winning spin duo of Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq the lads from the Moslem nation will be hard pressed to be deprived of glory at the Bangabandu Stadium in Dhaka Bangaladesh.

Meanwhile, India under new skipper explosive left handed batsman Saurav Ganguly,will have much to prove to their fanatical supporters back home, as they prepare to raise a new chapter in their cricketing scene following the recent setbacks encountered by the national side.

Their 3-2 win over a five match ODI series over South Africa at home, would have done a world of good to boost the morale of their cricketers, after losing their first home Test series for 13 years to South Africa 2-0 which came on the back of the 3-0 test series defeat, by Steve Waugh's Australians. 

India's strength undoubtedly will hinge on their batters, and the group will comprise skipper Ganguly former skippers Tendulkar who is the world's premier batsman currently and Azharuddin, Rahul Dravid, Ajey Jadeja, Robin Singh etc. will pose a huge threat and headache to the challenge of both Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Their bowling will be led as usual by Javagal Srinath and with Ajith Agarkar, Debashish Mohanty, Venkat Prasad, Anil Kumble, Nikhil Chopra and Sunil Joshi to add more muscle and variety, and the Indians mind you won't be pushovers.

And take the case of hosts Bangladesh for example.

The side from Dhaka, which created the biggest upset in the 99 World Cup, beating the more fancied Pakistanis of Wasim Akram for their greatest ever cricketing feat hitherto are the dark horses of Asia Cup 2000.

Not given a chance, by either their followers or critics around the world, and sans any world renowned crickerters in their ranks, I advice you cricket lovers not to underestimate the capabilities of these unsung lads, and in this game of glorious uncertainties anything is possible in the shorter version of cricket. They proved it with such unerring accuracy at the last World Cup in Britain.

Overall the upcoming Asia Cup 2000, holds the promise of turning out to be a veritable cricket carnival, during the fortnight this tournament is to be played, On current performance alone to tip the winners would be akin to that of finding a needle in a haystack. Let the better side win and may the fans enjoy good entertaining cricket.

Washbrook made his debut with Compton 

By Marcus Joseph 
Cyril Washbrook, CBE, Lancashire and England cricketer, one of the most outstanding opening batsmen in the history of the game died on April 29 last year, at the age of 84. He opened for England with Len Hutton 51 times, with an average partnership of 60. 

He played for Lancashire as a schoolboy and in 1933 in his second match at the age of 18 he made 152 runs. From the very start he went on to become the very embodiment of a Lancashire cricketer and remained deeply associated with the County until he fell ill due to age. Although he showed promise at the start of his career Washbrook fell back somewhat and two years later he regained his lost form to score 1,724 runs in the season and ranked fifth in the national averages. But next year in 1936 he was surprisingly not considered for the selection to the national side. 

However, a year later he made his England debut with Dennis Compton at the Oval against New Zealand. But he failed in batting, scoring only 9 and 8 not out and missed selection for a Test against Australia the following year. 

In the war Washbrook was PT Instructor in the RAF. Thereafter in 1946-47 when international cricket once again flourished after the war, he was selected a member of the England squad to tour Australia for the Ashes. He and Hutton had three successive opening century stands. At the time he was 31 years of age. From thereon Washbrook emerged as one of the recognisable cricketers of a heroic cricketing age. At Melbourne he battled for six hours for 112. He got another at Headingly where he hit 143. 

Five months later in South Africa Hutton and Washbrook put on an opening stand of 359, considered as England first wicket record to this day. Washbrook's contribution was 195, his highest Test score. He hit an unbeaten 103 in spite of being on injured list with the help of a runner against New Zealand at Leeds in 1949 and scored two more centuries, both in defeat, in the 1950 series against West Indies. 

For some mysterious reason he was ruluctant to tour Australia in 1950-51 although he was an automatic choice. In spite of persuations from past and present English players including his partner Len Hutton who was named the captain of the side Washbrook politely excused himself. From there on to the surprise of the cricketing world, Washbrook faded out of Test cricket. However cricket was his destiny and he himself could not part with it. In 1954 he became Lancashire's first professional captain and in 1956 a Test selector. 

The historic moment came that July, after England had lost to Australia at Lord's. The Selection Committee met to select the team for the next Test. At the beginning a whisper went round and the Chairman of the Panel getting up politely requested Washbrook to leave the room which the latter did without knowing the reason. A few minutes later he was called in and the Chairman politely told Washbrook that it was the unanimous decision of the panel that he should play for the next Test at Headingley. Although it was more than five years after his last Test and at the age of 41 Washbrook could not refuse the request made and decided to play. In the match he made 98, sharing a stand of 187 with Peter May. After England has been reduced to 17 for three. England won the game and Washbrook continued to play in the series. He remained Lancashire captain until returning in 1959. In 1964 Washbrook became the Club's cricket manager and he was an England Selector again in 1971 and 1972. This time he was not asked to come back but at 50 then he scored 85 for MCC in a centenary match against Lancashire. His benefit of pounds 14,000 in 1948 remained a record for more than two decades. John Major in his first year as Prime Minister awarded him CBE in 1991.

And then came Tyson

It was the last day of the 3rd Test at Melbourne in 1955. Australia had won the first Test at Brisbane and England had drawn level at Sydney. So when play started on the last day, Australia 75 for 2 overnight, had to make only another 165 runs with plenty of batting to come. But then came Tyson as he had done in the second Test. 

After only 80 minutes of play that morning, that meant that the time was twenty minutes past one, Godfrey Evans flung himself headlong to catch Bill Johnstone and it was all over. England had won by 128 runs. It was Evans's second fabulous catch of the morning. When the Test resumed on that last day, the wicket seemed to have lost its pace and England expected Appleyard to do the damage. But Tyson resurrected its declining vitalities and in 80 minutes, Australia had lost its remaining 8 wickets for 36 runs. And Appleyard did not have to bowl a single delivery. 

No one expected Tyson to repeat his triumph of the previous Test. Because neither in Australia's first innings, nor, in the early part of this Test did he work up his true pace. But on that last day, Hutton bowled him from the Southern End instead of the Melbourne End. Hutton was hoping that Tyson would be able to get the occasional lift that Miller had been able to get from that end when he was bowling. And Tyson got Miller with a ball that kicked just enough to find the edge. Richie Benaud and Ron Archer on the few occasions that they thrust out their left foot, met the ball in the middle of the bat. And twice Archer drove with a firmness that suggested that 165 runs would not be too hard to get. But by then it was too late. In 6 overs and three balls Tyson had broken the Australian batting to pieces. As soon as he came on Tyson found his rhythm and length and direction followed. Within one hour's play he had taken 5 for 10. He removed Harvey in the very first over of the day.

A hush settled over the MCG as Tyson ran into bowl the first ball of the day. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, no humidity and the light was golden. Harvey glanced the first ball for 2. 

But hardly had that been entered in the score-book when Harvey was out. Again he glanced Tyson round the corner but this time Evans was on the move. He flung himself, swooped on it like a seagull and rolled over. It was a catch worthy of any wicketkeeper anywhere in the world and one of the greatest catches that Godfrey Evans had taken. Harvey's dismissal was so unexpected that for some seconds the crowd seemed to be unaware of it. Miller who did not play at Sydney was next in. Tyson was now breating fire and Miller was not given any breathing space.

He was seeing the ball late and though he got 4 off the edge, Tyson knew he was living on borrowed time. At the other end Benaud was playing with unusual sobriety. But he suddenly had a rush of blood and hooked at the first ball of Tyson's third over. It was short enough but coming through lower than expected. He pulled it onto his leg stump and departed. Four balls and one run later Miller was gone. An outswinger from Tyson went like a bullet off the edge of the bat to Hutton at second slip. He could not hold onto it, but managed to knock it up and take some of the pace off it. Edrich standing a yard deeper at first slip, flung himself and caught it. Tyson had now taken 3 for 3 in 2 overs. Archer now joined Hole who immediately made two glorious square cuts. Then Statham tested him with 3 yorkers. The fourth ball was short and again Hole went for the cut. The flourish of his backlift delayed, and Evans took the faintest of snicks. The next ball bowled Maddocks and now only Ray Lindwall coming in, stood between Tyson and a hatrick. Lindwall managed to avert it, but was LBW to the second ball. This meant Australia had nosedived from 75 for 2 to 98 for 8 before play had lasted even for one hour. Archer drove Statham for 3 and then at ten-past one square cut Tyson for 4. But five minutes later with the score at 110, Statham yorked him. And the last man Johnstone mercifully did not prolong the agony. He flashed aimlessly at Tyson and Godfrey Evans leaping like a dolphin, caught it at full stretch and Australia after starting the day at 75 for 2 were all out for 111. 

- Bruce Maurice


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