over spilled milk
It was agonizing watching Sri Lanka slip and slide, get into good
positions and squander them, in the final week of the opening month
of 2006. Twice in the city of Adelaide and twice in the city of
Perth, twice against the Australians and twice against the South
Africans – they put up a fight but could not clinch a single
was the story, when every game was crucial, in fact for all three
teams to gain a place for the final best-of-three bash. The home
team chopped and changed their team, rested some of the stars after
they posted some points on the table. It opened out much discussion
and a fair amount of criticism. They have not been side tracked
even though a number of former captains have joined in the chorus.
The selectors and coach have stuck to their guns. They feel this
is the best opportunity, with good opposition, to test players so
they could finalize their squad for the World Cup, an year hence.
There is a plan in place and look beyond your nose and it is a good
Sri Lankan who took a few steps forward by beating both Australia
and South Africa once, have been pushed back into their corner.
They had the best opportunity in the last game they played. No pardon
for letting that chance slip by.
were given the start required by Sanath Jayasuriya and Jehan Mubarak.
Jayasuriya is once again hitting the ball off the middle of the
bat, putting the ball into vacant areas and excelling in shot selection.
Mubarak must remember he cannot and should attempt to match his
great partner shot for shot. Particularly early in the innings rotating
the strike and his contribution to the team. He should also not
sacrifice his wicket thinking there are established betsmen to follow.
He must go on to stamp his authority. Australian names like Jaques
and Hussey were not heard of in the international ranks a year ago.
When selected they believe they are as good as any, they are encouraged
to think like that and play like that. They step on to the arena
hell bent on making their mark.
boils down to accepting responsibility. At all levels of the game
that is the requirement. Individuals performing collectively to
bring about team success. The best of the island’s batting
was on display. After the opening pair, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela
Jayawardena, Marvan Atapattu, Russel Arnold and T.M. Dilshan. The
experience between them well over 1000 one day internationals. In
those games easily 15,000 or more runs have been scored by them.
All that is history. Cricket is a game where you have to perform
on that day. Reputations, aggregates, averages, do not matter. Obviously
the opposition thought that way. The South Africans are playing
in a tournament without three of their leading bowlers – Makhaya
Ntini, Jaques Kallis and Andre Nel, all sidelined through injury.
captain Graham Smith, stepped into bowl at the middle of a huge
crisis. He removed Mubarak in his opening over, then Jayasuriya
and Jayawardena – three prized scalps. His final figures were
10-0-30-3. Any front line bowler would have been proud of such returns.
Veteran Shaun Pollock ably supported him with figures of 10-3-17-2,
magnificent stuff. Add two run outs to that and the Sri Lankans
from a position of 137 for 1 wicket crumbled to 221 all out.
were no heroes as Smith and Pollock. Muttiah Muralitharan tried
hard in his ten overs picking up three wickets, while giving away
forty four runs. Perhaps his best effort on this tour but it was
not enough to turn it in Sri Lanka’s favour. The fast improving
Malinga Bandara also bowled a useful spell, but defending 221 runs
was just impossible. Sri Lanka has to now hope that Australia beats
South Africa twice and they in turn can win the last preliminary
round game in Hobart. Just a glimmer of hope!