I am sure that all Sri Lanka cricket fans are rather disappointed to see that our team was eliminated and did not enter the semi finals of the Champions Trophy in South Africa. Our lads started with a bang by beating the host South Africans, however our joy was short lived when we lost badly to England and New Zealand. Again we expected the British lads to beat Kiwis so that we could enter the semis. Even Lady Luck was not with us.
If our lads had won the ICC trophy they would have got bouquets from all corners. But now they get brickbats from everybody. Not only our cricketers but also our cricket Interim Committee is outraged which is quite natural. They must be prepared for that.
I do not believe in criticism but I would like to make a comment on our performances. Our first match was played against South Africa at Centurion Park which is very similar to our pitches. That particular day every thing went right with our team. But our second match played at Johannesburg was a fast bouncing pitch. Our four key players showed that their foot work was not quick enough to face England’s pace attack. At one stage we were 17 runs for 4 wickets. Anyhow our middle order fought back and managed to put up 213 on the board. But at the end it was not sufficient. Though England lost two early wickets they managed to carry all before them.
Then came the important game against New Zealand. Our lads had to win this encounter to remain in the competition. Our skipper won the toss and sent the opponents to bat first. They put our attack to the sword and scored 316 runs. Our very poor bowling and shabby fielding contributed to this massive total. Though our boys made a valiant effort they could not reach the target. If New Zealand took all the catches that came their way we would have lost by a bigger margin.
Now it is history. No point in worrying over what happened. But it is always good to analyze where we went wrong. Most of our batsmen are slow in their foot work when playing on fast bouncing pitches. Also they find it difficult whilst facing swing bowling. That was evident during the ICC Tournament.
Our bowlers do not know the art of bowling on those pitches. They cannot adjust themselves according to the situation. Once you play at international level you should be able to show your class in any place. If our cricketers won’t pay attention to this problem it will be the same in the future too. Our players have to learn the art of reading pitches. Some times on the same grounds two strips may behave in two different ways. Our lads thought the wicket we played against the Black Cats was similar to the pitch we played against England. Due to the wrong reading of the pitch we made two vital mistakes. We dropped our champion spinner Muralitharen. If he played we could have restricted the Kiwis to about 250 runs. Then instead of batting first we invited them to bat.
That really misfired and they scored 316 runs. If we batted first and scored at least 280 runs we could have put pressure on them. When you chase a big total you play always under pressure.
It is up to our cricket Interim Committee or Cricket Board to find out ways and means to help our players to overcome these difficulties. If they are satisfied with our present performance we will be underdogs whenever we go abroad. Also often our team will eat humble pie. Members of our Interim Committee wake up and deliver the goods!