ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday February 24, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 39

Aussie pressure and the least equipped

Has the Punter lost his bet? The Australian wall Ricky Ponting who almost had built a fortress at the number one slot in the world rankings in both forms of the game at one juncture is a mere shadow of his former self especially in this Commonwealth Bank series now in progress Down Under.

Now even when he walks up to the popping crease he does not exuberate like in the past and is rather tentative. The result -- he has been involved in a string of low scores and the end result the Australian batting has been under tremendous pressure in the past few games, but mercifully their bowlers along with the opposing batsmen have come to the rescue of their current status – may be to a certain extent.

Ponting’s batting slump has affected the whole Australian batting camp.
Is Sanath becoming a spent force? This is a very familiar
sight now

After the unbeaten 134 that he scored against New Zealand in December last year – Just prior to the series against India his ODI show had dwindled dramatically. Following that century his scores against India and Sri Lanka has been 0 (India), 9 (Sri Lanka), 9 (India), 25 (Sri Lanka), 10 (India) and 11 run out against Sri Lanka in Melbourne on Friday. For a man who boasts of a Test average of fifty and ODI average of forty (before slump it was more) it is a bad show indeed.

However the most interesting question is that ---is this a direct result of the diabolical second Test win against India that ran into ruptures in the cricketing world that plummeted the Australian captain’s popularity and even cost a lot disturbances to his family life? In spite of Cricket Australia standing firmly behind the beleaguered Tasmanian, the incidents that they brought upon themselves definitely have had some strong repercussions in the conscience of the Australian captain.

Even the very Australian press that sing hosannas day in and day out on Australian cricket could not tolerate the attitude of their own cricketers and took them to task and the end result was that the Indians came back strongly to win the third Test and did more than well when they drew the fourth one too.

Then in the ODI series that followed the Australian batting has not looked the menacing outfit that it normally is and has been more groping than batting like the well oiled machine that is normally is.

Even on Friday the early Australian batting floundered and it was up to middle order batsmen Hussey and Clarke to put the machine back on track with two half century knocks.

May be that’s the way the Aussie cookie crumbles.

While driving to office listening to a programme on current sports I heard one presenter saying to the other “the current runners-up of the World Cup are stuttering and struggling” and this end behind the wheel, I could not help but whole heartedly agree with the duo.

The Lankans ODI slide began at home against mediocre Englishmen when the home team came out with quite an unexpectedly below par show. Earlier they also had lost to an emerging Pakistani team that was going through a thorough revamping in an off shore Middle Eastern encounter straight after their West Indian exploits.

There are many cues that the Lankans can take from their Australian excursion. The biggest question is whether veteran Sanath Jayasuriya still warrants a place even in the ODI side. Yes, it is true that he is a potential match winner. At the same time now it seems that he is also bigger match loser for the country. Right now at present there is a huge gap between the last match he won for Sri Lanka and the matches that come a crop because of his early demise right at the beginning of the Lankan innings. In the last decade and a half he has become too much of an influence on Lankan cricket to ignore this factor and the sooner we dump him and start a fresh it would better for the future of the game in Sri Lanka.

At present for Sri Lanka it is a two man show in batting. It is either the duo of Sangakkara and Jayawardena deliver the goods or you take plunge to the closest ditch.

Ironically young opener Dilruwan Perera who was kept in cold storage until Friday’s game got a typical Rudi Koertzen decision to ball that hit the bat and also would not have hit the wicket at all. But, that’s the way that ICC elite umpire Koertzen goes on with his job, and who can question.

With pressure mounting on them frequent wins running away from them, both Sangakkara and Jayawardena are forced to stay at the crease as much as they could, but also keep the scoreboard ticking and most of the time get out playing shots they very well know that they should not have played.

Below Sangakkara and Jayawardena, the two Chamara’s Kapugedara and Silva along with T.M. Dilshan have failed to live up to their promise so far and them firing when the hopes are gone will be of no use.

Then the two all rounders – Maharoof and Vaas also have lived in their shadows like the other batsmen and not have done justice to their own exploits in bowling.

However when three very good sides are pitted against each other, however good on paper the side who the least prepared for a clash of that magnitude is bound get exposed like a sore thumb.

This is a good lesson for those who sit in their glass cubicles and try to rein the Lankan cricket from the shadows.

Ask yourself have you done justice by your country? If not why?

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