Senior Players Let The Side Down
Posted on June 13th, 2017

Top Spin By Suni

It was a case of wasted efforts squandered by the most experienced players where the juniors shone and Malinga was at one of his his arguably best showings.

The shame of it all is Sri Lanka almost made it to the next round and all the good efforts of those who got them to the semis came to no avail as pathetic fielding, overthrows and an inane approach towards going for the jugular saw  a reverse of roles where the Pakistanis capitalised and romped home leaving the Lankans with their tails between their legs. Angelo Mathews looked crestfallen with the rest of the team who had only themselves to blame although once again he had proved his role as a valiant Lankan captain where only a few lapses by an errant few saw the game slip through his fingers in a manner of speaking and totally beyond his control.

There probably was never  more enthusiasm and interest in a game where the Lankans after thrashing India comprehensively despite the loss to South Africa were expected to walk over the Pakistanis but what happened at Cardiff at a stage where Sri Lanka were poised for a historic win suddenly changed and was beyond belief for those watching.

Two simple missed catches which could have turned the tide of the game in favour of Sri Lanka were the most crucial, amongst others where Thisara Perera  and Seekuge Prassanna the two main culprits who let the Pakistanis, trembling in anticipation of defeat, off the hook as the Lankans faltered and failed to the abject horror of the millions watching on site and around the globe where it was all over bar the shouting.

But then it all adds up to the glorious uncertainties of the game with the celebrative Pakistanis in ecstacy and the Lankans in agony of a defeat that never should have been.

Taking nothing away from the Pakistanis who toiled and sweated for this famous win, they restricted Sri Lanka to a meagre total by  today’s limited over standards where once again pathetic run outs were the order of the day as the Pakistanis fielded brillianrly, threw down wickets unerringly and their Captain Safraz surely a role model with his exemplary leadership and batting whose team in the end snatched the spoils of victory from the jaws of defeat. Sri Lanka’s total in the end became daunting as Lasith Malinga the evergreen Lankan hero led the Lankan charge and almost turned tables on the Pakistanis but almost but not quite must be the pun  here as despair overcame the Lankans in the end.

It was surely a champagne game of cricket in a beautiful  Welsh setting and a madding crowd that was never far from anticipation for their team as the game came to its stunning climax.

Top Spin By Suni

June 13thn 3017

4 Responses to “Senior Players Let The Side Down”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Mathews is the most unsuccessful captain since Arjuna. His statistics are much worse had he not pulled out of matches likely to be lost. He must step down as captain but play as a batsman. There were 3 dropped easy catches by Danushka Gunatilake, Thisara and Prasanna. Thisara and Prasanna (stand in) should not be in the ODI team. They are T20 players.
    Chandimal has once again proven he is of little use. He must be removed from the shorter versions of the game. Tharanga has no place in the ODI and T20 teams either and so is Dhananjaya De Silva.

    Our fast bowlers worked as a unit. Very encouraging. Not playing a dedicated spinner is questionable. Kusal Mendis transformed into a useful ODI player. Niroshan has shown he is a worthy opener. Malinga has once again come to the rescue but we cannot place too much hope on him in the ODI format. Lakmal played a serious batting role and remains our formidable frontline fast bowler.

    Despite 41 players in the ODI format since 2015, experimentation must continue as we still don’t have a strong unit. Only Niroshan, Lakmal, Asela, Mathews, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, (Malinga if available) and Pradeep should be permanent in the team. All others must be rotated and replaced. School boy spinner Kalana Perera must be given a dig at the international level. Strike rate (with an average over 30) must be the most important criteria for selecting batsmen, not average at the expense of strike rate.

    We must also consider changes in the Lankan society. Rugby is the most popular sport of city folk and of the upper and upper middle class. This is where private investment in sport is highest. Cricket has fallen to rural and lower economic classes (mostly). They have other economic priorities than sport. It means more financial support for cricketers, more state and private investments in facilities and sponsorships and harder search for talent.

  2. cassandra Says:

    Sri Lanka’s loss to Pakistan, especially coming hot on the heels of a great victory over India, was indeed a disappointment. It was almost inconceivable that a team which demonstrated a capacity for the extraordinary seemed within a matter of a few days incapable of achieving the ordinary. But disappointed as we are, let us keep these things in proper perspective. It is instructive to note that there were also three other teams, all of whom more fancied than Sri Lanka, who failed to make it to the Semi Finals.

    Dilrook notes that “Mathews is the most unsuccessful captain since Arjuna. His statistics are much worse had he not pulled out of matches likely to be lost. He must step down as captain but play as a batsman.”

    If one considers his record in Test matches, Mathews is certainly not the most unsuccessful captain in this group; that doubtful distinction goes to Aravinda de Silva who did not win a single of the 6 Tests he captained. Mathews’ record is 13 wins (38% of Tests captained), ranks ahead of Sangakkara’s (33%). We need also to bear in mind that Mathews has not had the benefit of the services of quality, consistent performers like Vaas and Muralitharan. Let us also not overlook the opposition against whom Mathews has done well. His 13 Test wins include a series win of three matches against Australia as against one match by Jayasuriya and none by Mahela or Sangakkara.

    The assertion that Mathews’ “statistics are much worse had he not pulled out of matches likely to be lost” does not seem to me relevant. Surely his captaincy cannot be considered a factor in relation to games in which he did not play!

    I also see no reason why Mathews should stand down as captain. He has done well to lead a young and inexperienced side. He has shown a fine temperament in his role as a leader and more than once demonstrated the rare ability to bat well with the tail. Readers will, for instance, recall how in England in 2014, he put on a partnership of 149 with Herath in a match winning innings. We can also recall the occasion when in an ODI in Australia, chasing 240 for victory, SL was 107 for 8, when Malinga joined Mathews and together they achieved an improbable victory and set up a record for the highest ever partnership for the ninth wicket. Mathews has a good CV as captain. Let’s keep him in that role.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    @Cassandra

    I said “Mathews is the most unsuccessful captain since Arjuna”. Aravinda was ahead of that time. Although Sanga ranks equal, with time this will certainly go against Mathews. My particular focus was on ODI matches (as the main article) though I didn’t spell it out.

    How can he lead a young and inexperienced team when his presence is sporadic?

    A team going through change needs a stable captain. If the captain is not there for a very large number of matches, what is the use? The success of Sanath, Mahela and Arjuna as captain was their consistency in leading the team. Unfortunately, Mathews doesn’t qualify for that.

    It also places selectors in a problem. Who will stand in as captain and who will fill his batting position. If an experienced player is to be brought in as captain, it also shuffles other bating spots for instance the opener. This I think is one reason why so many players had to be tried which worked against the team.

    He may continue as captain but Team Sri Lanka fans must lower their expectations. If he remains captain, I see an inglorious early exit in 2019 WC just as 2015 WC and 2017 CT. Even the unlucky bridesmaid title during the past two captains is lost to Sri Lanka under Mathews. We can keep blaming selectors, the regime, Duckworth-Lewis, tournament setting, the pitch, the weather, etc.

    However, as I said before, he is a good batsman (the best remaining) and he should continue as a batsman. Captaincy requires a different set of skills which he lacks.

  4. cassandra Says:

    Dilrook,

    I stand corrected in counting Aravinda de Silva as a post Ranatunga captain but I was misled by the listing on the Internet, ostensibly arranged in chronological order, where his name is listed after Ranatunga’s. Even disregarding Aravinda, Matthews is still not the worst Test captain, based on the percentage of Test wins. Tillekeratne and Dilshan in fact have the lowest percentage of success, at 9%, and as already mentioned, Mathews has a better average than Sangakkara. You state your focus was on the one day game. Here, Tharanga (28%) and Dilshan (42%) rank lower than Mathews. Mathews’ with a success rate in ODIs of 48% is clearly NOT the worst.

    I agree with you however with the need for stability in the position of captain. Clearly, you cannot afford having a captain whose regular availability is not assured. Unfortunately for him, Matthews has been too injury prone, and one can but hope that with the time he has had off and the treatment he has received, he will not be plagued by injury in similar fashion in the future. That said, I suppose, if his injury problems keep recurring, the selectors may well have to review his position as captain. But then arises the difficult question – who will take his place? As far as I can see there is no one from the current squad who stands out for consideration.

    As for SL’s fortunes in the 2019 WC, a settled captaincy is only one of the factors to consider. No less important, to my mind, is having a settled side of competent players. The recent practice of recycling old players who are clearly past their best is only a band aid solution. ODIs call for athleticism and sharpness in the field, and the accent needs necessarily to be on younger players.

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