Tour loss a blow
Cricket Sri Lanka announced that the second ODI to be played in Napier, between New Zealand and Sri Lanka to be postponed and the tour to be continued. Within a couple of days that changed with the players wanting to return home.

Two players, Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Chandana are reported to have had immediate family affected. Their trauma is understandable. I believe the management must have listed out the pluses and minuses of calling the tour off. The fact that should have been uppermost in their thinking from a cricketing point of view is the quantum of international cricket scheduled for the upcoming year, in particular the first half.

With this tour called-off there is nothing absolutely finalized until July when the West Indies are scheduled to tour Sri Lanka for a test and one day series. There has been talk of a tournament in Sharjah in February and also a tri-nation one day series in India also involving Bangladesh. Those propositions are still in limbo. Sri Lanka are also scheduled to tour the neighboring country again later in the year, for a full series of tests and one dayers.

All in all, considering the tour programs of most of the other nations Sri Lanka will be under done at the end of 2005. It will be hard to rearrange this tour as cricket can be played in New Zealand only between October and March and for the next three years their calendar has been finalized.

The ICC also did not object to the cancellation of the tour on humanitarian grounds. How it will affect the rankings arrangement will be another issue to be sorted as it is required to play home and away series in the stipulated period of time. The other nations too are up to the brim with commitments. Sri Lanka will have to sit out without cricket.

This means the players will have to make most of the domestic games. The club season barring the one-day final is all over. It has been mentioned that the provincial tournament is to be conducted with lesser games than last season.

Very little of the teams, the games, the venues, have been made known, although the start of the tournament is only a matter of weeks away. How could Sri Lanka produce cricketers to match up with the best in the world, when the domestic cricket is in such shambles?

International cricket ended for the year with a closely contested test, where South Africa desperately held onto a draw. England again proved that they had improved by leaps and bounds during the year.

Dismissed for 139 on day one they fought back admirably. The brilliant Jacques Kallis stood in their way in the first innings stroking a masterly 162. This new look, mentally tougher England side took the game by its horns from then on and batted with great purpose. Big scores from Strauss, Trescothick, Thorpe, supported by wicket keeper Jones and Flintoff enabled England to set the home team a victory target of 378. They got upto 290 for 8 wickets having batted 86 overs when bad light halted play. A further 15 overs remained. An honorable draw after five days of absorbing test cricket.

January to March is the peak time of year for cricket. All the test nations have at least one if not two series commitments. It looks like Sri Lanka will be twiddling their thumbs during this time!


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