Now the bangbang series begin

Roshan Abeysinghe notes from England

The start of the Test series to the shorter version or the cowboy game between Sri Lanka and England could not have been more thrilling than the Twenty 20 at the Rose Bowl in Hampshire. In front of a capacity crowd, the Lankan lions were able to tame the English by the thinnest of margins for a well earned and an important win. It was fascinating to witness the Media hype for England before the game. The Media went to the extent of recalling the grand victory by 100 runs over the Aussies last year and in the same breath was clamoring for an English victory. The English sports fans who were celebrating England’s win over Trinidad and Tobago in World Cup football, were hoping for a double celebration that evening! What a disappointment it turned out to be! Having said that, what England need to understand is that, their squad has been depleted by injury and is more or less second string. Whilst the new comers are very promising and have potential, it should not be discounted that they would be up against two masters who have made the craft of bowling, their own. This, all England should accept as definitely being of a tall order.

Beating England without Murali and Vaas

The win at the Rose Bowl was therefore, all the more creditable though it was just a 20 over game, (Which is now a permanent feature in the world cricket calendar) after Sri Lanka decided to rest both Muthiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas. Whilst the very short version would not have been Murali’s cup of tea, Chaminda Vaas with his great experience would have been very handy to bowl a few cheap overs, not forgetting his ability with the bat when it is needed. The fact that they both were rested and Sri Lanka won with an inexperienced bowling line up defies the dooms day prophets of England, especially the great Geoffrey Boycott who strongly believed that Sri Lanka had no bowlers of quality. One can recall his familiar sentiments echoing during the test series. “Sri Lanka has just one bowler who could win them games “Take him out of the equation and they will struggle to get batsmen out” Maybe true in the case of getting batsmen out, but certainly not the case in being able to restrict some of them and win in the end. Once again a big Well Done to Mahela and his boys.

Lankan team goes into the ODI series with more confidance.

One has to at the very outset pat the selectors on the back for their correct selection of the additional players. It was good to see the experienced Russell Arnold being recalled along with pace bowlers Dilhara Fernando and Ruchira Perera, who could have easily made it to the test squad too. However one has to spare a thought for the Chilaw Marians all rounder Gayan Wijekoon! After over 900 runs in the Domestic First Class tournament and a decent share of wickets, Wijekoon would have given Sri Lanka’s the ideal allrounder’s option at least in the One Day game. It was both a pity and a surprise that he missed the Selectors nod, in view of the poor showing of some of the players who have been retained to fill in the allrounders berth. On the point of selection, it is nothing but fair that inform players be considered and not players with historical records.

Coming back to the One Day Internationals, the fact that Sanath Jayasuriya seems to be getting back to his old form could be another key and a decisive factor in the out come of it. The Rose Bowl did witness the Jayasuriya of old before been unfairly adjudged LBW to a delivery which was missing the leg stump by some margin. I am sure that the whole of Sri Lanka would be hoping that the Master Blaster would put his test match disappointment behind him and would come up with something extra special to wind up his International cricket career in England. It is very apparent that the English Cricket fans tend to respect and regard greats who are both present and also former. The acceptance and the following of both Arjuna Ranathunga and Aravinda De Silva have in this country is still very high and the likes of Jayasuriya, Muralitharan and Vaas too are been held in very high esteem in England. Surely all three on their last tour to England, they would want to end it on a high. Muralitheren has already done it with his bowling and especially his feat at Nottingham. And what a finale it would be for the trio of great cricketers to finish off in England on a high! Not just personally but for the team too. I am sure skipper Jayawardane and the rest of the young brigade would want to say thank you to the Three Great Men. They could do that by combining well for yet another famous performance! A victory in the One day Internationals! As for me watching from close quarters it has never been more real on this tour.

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