silver penny for a cricket thought
By Ranil Abeynaike
After a reasonably good showing in Australia and having defeated
Bangladesh in their own territory, Sri Lanka slipped down the greasy
pole in their two one day encounters against Pakistan. In the one
day a short spell of bad cricket can let the game slip out of a
team’s grasp. Try as you may it then becomes an impossible
task to regain lost ground.
Lanka faltered on two counts in these two games. Their batsmen did
not alter their game to suit the pitches that they came up against.
Their batsmen did not go on after making starts, after doing the
hard work. In the first concluded game they fell short by about
thirty runs and in the second by about fifty runs. On both occasions
they were well capable of getting those runs.
arrangement of the team suffered from the outset. First, Sanath
Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas and Ruchira Perera pulled out due to injury
on the eve of the opening game. Then captain Marvan Atapattu made
himself unavailable due to a recurring back injury. In terms of
ability and experience Atapattu, Jayasuriya and Vaas occupy about
forty percent of the teams strength. Perera bowled well in Australia
and could have been a handful for the visitors. In the past seven
months a number of new faces have emerged and some others who have
fallen by the wayside some time ago have re-emerged. Some players
have lost their way while question marks are placed in front of
the names of some seniors. From the selections made for the Bangladesh
tour the selectors were looking ahead to the future. Now they have
a reasonably clear picture having seen many players.
the pieces of the jigsaw are all over the place. The main concern
must be the senior players Marvan Atapattu, Muttiah Muralitharan,
Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas and Russell Arnold. Collectively
they have made tremendous contribution to Sri Lankan cricket. The
questions to ask are many. How long will the form and contributions
of these players last? What about their fitness? Are the young players
in the pipeline capable of taking the next step? How soon should
the transition take place?
the transition will be somewhat of a staggered process. All these
players will not go out together. Some may be around for awhile
longer than the others. Some may continue in one form of the game
or other. Whatever said and done the team is going through a period
of transition and the sooner the core players for the test side
and the core players for the one day side are identified, the better.
second question will be the key factor. The fitness of the players
concerned is so vital. It is natural that through years of play,
wear and tear on the body becomes more and more apparent. Should
it get in the way of playing on a regular basis, then it affects
the performance of the team.
A number of the top players are having fitness problems. The players
themselves, the coach, physical advisory staff, must work towards
monitoring fitness and ensure that these players are available without
missing much cricket.
is crunch time now. Sri Lanka has slipped to number seven in the
international ODI table. Only the West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe
are behind them. It is a desperate situation.
teams on top of them, Australia, South Africa, India, Pakistan,
England and New Zealand, have over the past one year systematically
approached selecting and weeding out players for next years World
Cup. The Australians though have not yet got their combination sorted
out. The other teams are closing the gap between each other and
also closing the gap on the Australians. The recently concluded
Australia–South Africa series indicated just that. Pakistani’s
who went down to India recently displayed their strengths against
way to go now is to select twenty of the fit players who are also
performing well and work with them until next March.