soldiers do they die?
By S.R. Pathiravithana
Friday morning newspapers came out screaming. They talked about
the selectors finally taking that bold decision or else being forced
to take that bold decision of saying enough is enough --- however
big your name is. Now for the second leg of the tour where the three
Test matches will take place, the rest of the players will have
to note that the familiar sight of Sanath Jayasuriya will not be
there – for better or for worse.
But did any doctor so far delve in to see as to when this patient
first contacted this disease? Well…I am no doctor, but my
gut feeling says it was coming for some time. It was on the cards
that there was a likelihood that they would fall from grace once
the real crunch battles started after their somewhat ballooned home
After their tsunami holiday, the Lankan cricketers had a relatively
easy time taking on the minnows of world cricket – Bangladesh
and the West Indian 3rd Xl. Though Sri Lanka made very short work
of these two teams, thanks to some individual performances, their
top order was beginning to get exposed to the hilt. In both matches
against the West Indies Sri Lanka could hardly match up to the young
visitors in their first innings and it was only their vast experience
and home advantage that saved the day and saw them through to a
2-nil win. Mind you Cory Collimore and Fidel Edwards were languishing
at home back in the Caribbean while their second string bowlers
were up to no good against the Lankan batsmen especially when putting
batsmen of the calibre of Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu
into umpteen difficulties.
West Indian Xl even managed to go back home with an ODI win against
Sri Lanka in the end. Then in the next episode against Bangladesh
once again Sri Lanka were reeling at 4 for 48 in their first innings
in the second Test against two virtually unknown pacemen. Once again
only a 280 run 5th wicket stand between in-form batsmen Thilan Samaraweera
and T.M. Dilshan salvaged their pride and saw them through to an
ungettable total for the Bangladeshis.
along with the West Indies the Indian team was here with a new captain
also for the Indian Oil ODI series. Rahul Dravid – the present
Indian captain, was standing in for the then skipper Saurav Ganguly
who was facing an ICC match ban. Though Ganguly was here for the
latter part of the matches, Dravid continued to lead, but Sri Lanka
managed to make it three-nil against them.
Lanka did win that duel at home. But, was it totally convincing?
Or was there much to be desired? Did the Sri Lanka batsmen hold
sway against the Indians in that series the way the Indians held
sway against them in their subsequent exchange of fire on their
own territory this time? The answer is no. Right through the series
the Lankans were almost tottering and only the uncertainty that
prevailed in the Indian camp, which is common history, enabled Sri
Lanka to pull through.
Now it is time to sit back and take stock of the damage done. Were
we happy with the number one and two slots? First, the so called
time tested opening duo of aging Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu
began to fail. Saner counsel prevailed somewhat and finally Marvan
has opted to go down the order and it has paid dividends. But Sanath
Jayasuriya was adamant that he should be there in the opening slot.
There is no argument that Sanath has delivered the goods in the
past and he is one of “THE GREATEST” that this country
has ever produced.
as a cricketer who has seen the rise of young Sri Lanka upstaging
in the world circuit, from as way back as the year of 1989. So,
he should have been able to read the game better and see how he
and his experience could serve the cause of Sri Lankan cricket better.
Meanwhile with this hullabaloo in the top order, tremendous pressure
has been brought upon dependable Kumar Sangakkara. However dependable
or the thinking cricketer he is – no one can go on taking
the entire batting pressure only upon himself for too long. Even
jack-in-the-box Mahela Jayawardena comes out and scores only at
almost every third innings that he bats. Besides the dropping of
Jayasuriya, now we see another door being knocked upon. With the
appointment of work horse Chaminda Vaas as vice captain in place
of Mahela Jayawardena there is a message that is very loud and clear.
Get your act together or the door will be shown. Nobody is infallible!
being in the middle did Arnold deliver the expected goods? At the
same time whatever happened to Thilan Samaraweera who also bowls
off spin (mind you he came into the side as an off spinner) and
is as dogged as Arnold and his failing ratio is less. Were the tour
selectors not so block headed and were so adamant on playing only
Arnold in spite of his repeated failures, Arnold may have remained
as a player for the Test matches too. However the replacement –
Chamara Kapugedera’s choice is a little surprising as he still
is of unknown qualtity. At the same time, they have brought in seasoned
Avishka Gunawardena in place of Jayasuriya at the top. Is Gunawardena
who also scores in patches the correct answer to this, is a question
which could be answered by only Gunawardena himself?
only ‘silver lining” is the batting of Dilshan who opts
to play his natural game whatever the prevailing circumstances are.
Then in bowling even the proven Murali-Vaas combination has failed
to deliver. There was hardly anything to speak out about the other
bowlers and the entire lot collectively failed. As a remedial measure
the selectors have drafted in the left arm – right arm leg
spin combination of Sajeewa Weerakone and Malinga Bandara which
could be considered a move in the right direction. Along with them
the ‘sling-arm kid’ Lasith Malinga is also now with
the squad. These three players have come in place of Upul Chandana
and Dilhara Lokuhettige who also failed to perform to their true
the same time it is good that reality has hit Mr. Tom Moody early
in his mission with the Lankan team in their quest to win the 2007
world cup. At the same time the selectors have also got to be wise
to take some bold decisions however bitter they may taste to some.
With these moves maybe he has some time left to do some experimenting
like his senior across the Palk Straight. During the foreseeable
future Sri Lanka does not have a home series and every new town
they visit will have a new experience.
dropping was an unanimous decision-Kaluperuma
By Marlon Fernandopulle
Sri Lanka’s Chairman of Selectors Lalith Kaluperuma confirmed
that the omission of former captain Sanath Jayasuriya from the test
squad to India was a unanimous decision by the selection committee
based on his present form and fitness.
Speaking to the Sunday Times Kaluperuma also went on to deny reports
that Jayasuriya’s name was included in the squad and was not
approved by the Sports Minister. “Even before we sat for the
selection committee meeting we decided to drop Sanath from the squad.
It was a unanimous decision we took considering his present form
and his current level of fitness. We were of the view that Sanath
needs to take a rest at this stage and left him out. This squad
that was sent to the sports minister was approved without any hesitation”.Kaluperuma
and his co-selectors include Shabir Asgerally,K M Nelson and Don
Arunasiri who was in India with the team.
Kaluperuma admitted that it was a hard decision that they had to
take in dropping Sanath who has played in 100 tests and 335 one
dayers.”Yes it was a hard decision to drop Sanath and that
is also one reason why I personally spoke to him and conveyed the
decision to Sanath”. When asked how Jayasuriya reacted to
the news Kaluperuma replied saying, “Well, he accepted our
decision very well.
With the Premier League limited over tournament now in progress
Jayasuriya will need to play for his club Bloomfield and regain
his lost touch if he is to get back to the Lankan team. However
Kaluperuma confirmed that Jayasuriya would not be considered for
the three tests against India although it starts only in December.
According to Kaluperuma some of the current senior players will
also be rested for tours in the future. “We feel players like
Muralitharan, Vaas, and skipper Atapattu may also need a short break
from future tours. We will be looking at this in the future”.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) in a press release yesterday confirmed
the appointment of Trevor Penny as the Assistant Coach of the team.
The decision to appoint an Assistant coach was made sometime ago
and the management was on the hunt for a suitable candidate.
According to the SLC media release six candidates were in the fray
that included three local coaches. However despite efforts made
by the Cricket Committee and the Interim Committee an acceptable
agreement could not be reached with the potential local candidates.
Considering the importance and urgency of making this appointment
the committee of SLC finally selected Trevor Penny from the three