“Listen to the ocean, echoes of a million seashells Forever it’s in motion Moving to a rhythmic and unwritten music That’s played eternally” You remember that song by Nina and Frederik, the popular Danish-Dutch singing duo who shot into fame in the 1960s. If you hear this song by them even today, the smooth lilting [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

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“Listen to the ocean, echoes of a million seashells
Forever it’s in motion
Moving to a rhythmic and
unwritten music
That’s played eternally”

You remember that song by Nina and Frederik, the popular Danish-Dutch singing duo who shot into fame in the 1960s. If you hear this song by them even today, the smooth lilting melody and the husky harmony of it would bring you to the edge of your seat.
More than anything else in this song, I love the lyrics of this part of the song because it has an unrelenting motion that’s played eternally.

This is exactly how I would like to think of Lankan cricket — a nice soothing unrelenting force that’s played eternally. Unlike most of the other cricket playing nations, the Lankans play a brand of cricket that is soothing to the eyes and even command praises from the false smiling condescending critiques of our brand of cricket.

All these came into motion in my head after the willow-wielding lads of Lanka went against all odds and turned a difficult series to their advantage and now there is no way that they could lose the series. From this point they have things only to gain — if they are willing to walk that hard yard.

Notwithstanding the result of the Test match that is scheduled to end tomorrow, the Lankan cricketers have proved a point. They have shattered the predictions of some western cricket pundits who claimed that the Lankans would find it hard to get back to the winning ways in Test cricket in the post Murali/Vaas era. Yes, they have begun to turn matches. Besides a hopeless loss against a weakened Australian outfit at the turn of 2013, the Lankans held the high riding England to one each in a two Test series, beat South Africa for the first time in a Test match in South Africa and achieved the present results against Pakistan who definitely were better equipped towards the longer version of the game in the present context.

However, among all those achievements I put this series in the pedestal because the Lankans have brought in a different aspect to Sri Lanka cricket.

I do not say that Angelo Mathews has passed the PhD in leading his home side in Test cricket, but, definitely he has begun to read it and also candidly handle and guide the balance ten players according to the situation.

Yes, he is fortunate to have the services of two of the most respected stalwarts of the present game of cricket in Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara. We have also heard them coming up with suggestions while the game is on through the stump mike. But, finally it is up to the captain to have the resilience to cope with the situation and take the right decision.

In his post-match comments, Mathews said that it was a real team effort where seniors, the young batsmen and the young set of fast bowlers complemented each other to make the win a reality.

I do not know what sort of contribution that the hired foreign coaches made towards this win, but it was heartening to note the new found opener Kaushal Silva walking up to the dressing room and celebrating the win with his batting coach Marvan Atapattu. From that gesture it was evident that the little steely nerved opener appreciated and heeded the advice and guidance extended by batting coach Atapattu towards his success.

I remember some time ago Michael Zoysa, the present manager of the Lankan senior team, got me on the phone and said “ why don’t we as media men follow Kaushal Silva” because he felt that the wicket-keeping right handed batsman had it what it makes to carve out the good international cricketer in him.

A while after he was included in the national side on a tour against Pakistan to the same destination. But, except for a gritty 39 in the second attempt while batting in the middle order, there was nothing special and soon he was dropped.

Yet, we at this end learned and heard about his progress and the second coming was more than impressive. Besides his batting, his gloveless fielding has impressed all quarters and two of the catches he held in the two matches were blinders. All this proves that he is a keen student of the game, willing to learn and work towards the place where he belongs.

I always believed that Shaminda Eranga had it in him and he would mature with experience after he finished with a haul of four wickets against Australia in his debut. Early injury kept him out but once he made his comeback he has stayed with the squad.

However, the fast bowler who has improved much is Suranga Lakmal. The way he uses the in-dipper is quite impressive and his reverse swing is also challenging because he has control over his deliveries now.

I genuinely feel if these two bowlers are thrown the challenge in leading the Lankan attack in the other forms of the game without the experienced distractions that do not live to their expectations, they may perform better. Because when the leader of the pack is treated with no respect by the opposition, the others wilt under pressure. They automatically lose direction.

However the impression given so far in the first two encounters is that the Lankan younger brood is willing to take up the challenge. This is something that was professed by insiders directly involved the improvement of the game for the past few years and not the seat warmers at Maitland Crescent. The guys out there had seen it before the others, but their advice was not heeded.

Unlike most of the other cricketing nations who were admitted to the top rung in the second half of the last century, Sri Lanka had been involved with the game as much its mentors. Right along they produced artistes who were not second to whatever the others produced, but, being a small nation there were bottlenecks where proper recognition was concerned. Yet, they generated cricketers who produced cricket like the unrelenting sound of the ocean that surrounds our little island.

Yes, we may be on to a good thing now, in spite of the apathy shown by cricket administrators for the past few years. To be a good and accepted cricketing nation, you have to be good as Test playing nation. Only then the other stronger nations begin to respect you and offer you reciprocal tours.

I hope sanity prevails in the rooms that has very little cricket in them. Let’s build on this good thing and look for 2017.

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