Can our national players deliver the goods in alien soil as in Sri Lanka?

Letteres to the Sports Editor
By Bro.Nimal Gurusinghe, F.S.C.

Our recent performance in Sri Lanka is very praiseworthy. We could dictate terms to Pakistan and New Zealand. It is also very heartening to see many young players performing well and bringing glory to our Mother Lanka.

It seems to me any team beating our national team in Sri Lanka is extremely difficult. It shows that our team has learnt the art of winning at home. I consider it a great achievement. We should be able to carry all before us whenever we play here. After all, this is our country and our players are more familiar with these pitches and conditions. At present our national cricketers can show their superiority with any country when matches are played in their home. We should always try to maintain this record. No one will like to lose in their own den. If it happens it is a great humiliation.

When Sri Lanka were ‘babes’ to Test and One Day cricket many countries came here and massacred our team. In the future it will not be very easy to do so. Visitors have to be very strong and play their level best to beat Sri Lanka in these conditions.

On the other hand we have to look further ahead. It is always good to win on home soil, but we should be able to show our class when we tour other countries. If a team wins only in their land they cannot call themselves the best team in the world. When Clive Lloyd was leading the West Indies they could beat any team anywhere. During his era they were masters on slow pitches as well as fast bouncy ones. It was a treat to watch them play in any conditions. The whole world knew they were cricket giants. For them where they played was immaterial. The whole team put their heart and soul and played the game. They won 95% of their matches. That was the very reason they were considered as the unofficial would cricket champions.

Can our National Cricketers be triumphant when they tour other countries? It is a million dollar question. Have we ever won a Test match in Australia or South Africa? On the whole what is our record outside Sri Lanka? As intelligent cricket fans it is good to ponder on these lines. What are the steps our Cricket Interim Committee has taken to improve our performance away from Sri Lanka, especially when we meet cricket giants in their own dens? If we can show our colours when we play in their countries we can be proud of our National Cricket heroes. When we deliver goods in Sri Lanka we should not get carried away. Any team faces the real challenge when they perform away from their home environment. If our boys are fit to hold a candle with our opponents when they tour other countries we can reach the top in world rankings.

It will not be very easy and it will not come to us smoothly. Our Cricket Interim Committee has to have a plan to prepare our players to face the real test. There are no short-cuts for success and there is no substitute for hard work. Our players should be immersed in an astrosphere of foreign conditions before they make a tour. They have to undergo a solid training to play on fast and bouncy pitches. Also they should learn to play in any climatic conditions. Then they will be a threat to any opponent. If men in authority are lethargic and won't take any steps we will remain underdogs when we make a tour and will also eat humble pie. But if our Interim Committee has a clear cut plan and execute it our team can go a long way. I hope and pray that day will dawn very soon.

People who read this article may misunderstand me. They might think that I am a bitter critic. My intention is not to criticize any one. As a lover of cricket I love my country. I love our national team. Therefore I would like Sri Lanka to be above board than any other country at least in cricket. When I see the wealth of cricketing talent in this island this task is not impossible. In 1996 we showed to the whole world that we could cut the Gordian Knot and bring the most prestigious Cricket cup to Sri Lanka.

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