Develop the long game
Cricket has been stacked away in the attic, with the disaster that has befallen the country. Through the sport many honourable deeds are being carried out by the governing organizations and individuals. That is the need of the hour and so it must be done.

In the not too distant future, it will be time to take stock on the cricketing situation and start looking ahead seriously. The present domestic season will wind-up with the Provincial tournament and the concluding games in the incomplete final round club games. It is hoped that there would not be much interference to the main first and second eleven school seasons. Some schools have been affected. Lets hope they can be propped-up to get some amount of cricket.

What is the secret of producing good cricketers on a regular basis. There are at least half-a-dozen requirements. But leading the list is playing tough, competitive long games, on pitches that offer assistance to all types of players, at some stage at a match.

Test cricket is a five day affair, so the long game at domestic level must be of four day duration. Four day cricket on well prepared pitches will give the quicker bowlers spinners and batsmen, all an opportunity to perform in a game.

The Australians got 2005 off to a winning start. They secured the first Test win for the year and swept aside the Pakistani's 3-0. Last year they won ten of the fourteen tests they played in.They lost just the one game and that was the infamous third test against India played in Mumbai. A tremendous record which they are bound to emulate again this year.

A major reason for their success at test level, now around the world, is their fiercely competitive domestic tournaments. These tournaments are in progress right now. Cricket in Australia begins around October 10 when it is just about mid-spring. The inter-state one-day competition and the four day competition are worked simultaneously through the season which ends by about the third weekend of March. Club cricket is played on Saturdays and some Sundays. When available if there are no state commitments then first class players shot into those games too. It provides around one hundred and forty cricketers a tremendously high standard of cricket. That is more than sufficient to produce a top class national team and nearly as good an 'A' team as well.

The six states competing, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, are permitted to contract overseas players. These days it is rarely done. That gives the locals all the opportunity. There are many foreigners who play in the club tournaments, most as professionals or in the role as Captain/Coach.

The four day competition was played for the Sheffield Shield for well over a century. Winning the shield was as good as success at international level. Now the prize is the "Pura Cup". The tournament is sponsored by a name famous with milk.

Each team plays the other 'home' and away. This makes it ten games - ten rounds. Ten weeks of the season are kept for these four day games. Almost all the games are played on the test venue in the state, unless due to an extremely unavoidable circumstance the venue is unavailable.

The interest in the competitions are maintained to reach a climax at the final lap of the season. The one day final takes place at the end of February. The major achievement is to win the shield - the Pura Cup. The top two teams vie for the plum after ten gruelling rounds. This game is played at the home ground of the team that ends on top of the table after the games. Six solid months of cricket that will breed many top class players. Wake up Sri Lanka Cricket!!


Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.