Cricket That Quintessential Game Of Glorious Uncertainties ~ In Between Tests!

© Top Spin By Suni for LankaWeb Cricket
Aug.5th 2008

Cricket that quintessential game of glorious uncertainties! Ah but it is so entertaining.
That was all that happened in Galle, not a debacle Ad Infinitum! An entertaining game!
No cause for alarm, no worries and let's continue to down those 'Mendis Specials'! they will surely take on a meaningful flavour to signify SL cricket down the road.

The Sri Lankan cricketing dilemmas however seem multi-faceted and to a degree have to be directly linked to the absence of strike bowlers of the calibre of Ishant Sharma while taking into consideration how he was pummelled in the first Test~ by no means a Typhoon Tyson or a Brett Lee but did get a lot of bounce on the Galle strip! The non availability of Malinga and Dilhara also seemed painfully obvious towards a greater measure of success in the Galle Test, Fervez Maharoof's presence would have been a plus but speculation nonetheless where the only realistic sigh has to be some wishful thinking about the presence of a Sanath Jayasuriya who would in probabilities have collared the Indian attack Sharma included.

It has to be acknowledged beyond speculation that the Lankans still need to come to terms with how to play the truly quick bowlers on their merits and stop nibbling outside the off stump ~a technique better served towards swatting flies!
Aravinda de Silva eat your heart out! You swatted them over the ropes!

While they don't as yet seem to have learned lessons after Lee, Tait, Bracken and Clarke in Australia and the skills of how to play the real quickies consistently it is a grey area which need to be re-furbished as something the Lankans seem lacking in.Point for the bowling coach to ponder upon!

In the Galle Test however it was the spin of Harbajan Singh and Anil Kumble that did them in and have only themselves to blame being reputed players of spin.but also reputed for their famous 'ex manual' vertical drives and the proximity of Kandy in a manner of speaking where there is that famous occurrence known as a procession( Perahera) which somehow at times seems to influence their batting trend rather uncannily!!

Mahela Jayawardena's overprotection of Nuwan Kulasekera seemed overkill towards the loss of at least 20 runs in singles and a consideration towards the ultimate result! Protecting a batsman from the strike seems a ludicrous means to secure a win in a case where the batsman in question is a very straight and confident bat and ultimately it was Jayawardena who was dismissed to a stroke totally unbecoming of his calibre and it was Kulasekera who carried out his bat where the Indian lead of 37 runs proved to be an all important psychological advantage which paid dividends for the boys of Maha Bharatha!!

Indeed it has to be acknowledged that the Indian batting repertoire is one of the most experienced albeit undeserving of the title when one considers the batting might of the Australians.India being presently the best as some seem to think is a misconception.
Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman the big guns seem to have lost much of their former sparkle towards consistent performance, a few young 'uns such as Gambhir and Utappah are indeed knocking at the door although Shewag and his explosive bat weilding is a completely different story towards India's batting strength but an individual does not a continuous winning team make! Brian Lara proved this theory beyond a doubt where even Shewag cannot hold a candle to the mastery of Lara or win a test singlehanded beyond the team effort! This Indian team's effort at Galle was however phenomenal!

Sri Lanka's batting line up on the other hand despite being formidable on paper appeared circumspect this day when facing real aggression out in the middle. There seems to be a hint that the Lankans also seems to be in the throes of selection woes what with interfering politicians and a somewhat butterfingered selection committee by-passing some of the more deserving players whether deliberatedy or inadvertently but in each case unvorgivable on the basis of merit.

Chamara Silva predictably a budding Aravinda de Silva seems indispensable for the team and Upul Tharanga ( not even in the squad sadly) a better choice perhaps than Michael Vandort who is resting on past laurels, has had his chances, will probably not be axed for the Third Test but will have to perform or be struck out on the" Three Strikes You're Out!" basis come the next test wherever! There is indeed a sword of Damocles hanging over his head one would think!

Having said all this the Lankans still have the magic of Murali and the mysterious guile and deception of Mendis which will be key factors in the Colombo Test combined with a re-vamped batting lineup hopefully and regardless of all the rhetoric about decoding and countering of Mendis there was not a single Indian Player with the exception of Shewag despite their win who really stood upto Mendis confidently as most of the time they appeared to be farming and nonplussed at the mendis varieations.

Vaas and Kulasekera it has to be said however did not generate that extra bounce and swerve which was reminiscent of Sharma towards rattling the top order so there is talk of including the young speedster Prasad ( at whose expense it is not known yet?) whose prowess was seen in the not too distant past, towards cranking up the Lankan speed attack and good thinking perhaps in the absence of Lasith Malinga, Ferevz Maharoof and Dilhara Fernando!

And finally there is the issue of the veritable toss!
Given the consideration that any game is a toss up between who performs better and who doesn't, the toss if one views it pragmatically has to be deemed insignificant towards an assured victory( simple logic) and the first lease of the wicket merely relative to conditions albeit geared more importantly to performance where some of the greatest innings as well as bowling feats were recorded on bad and good surfaces respectively regardless of who won the toss.

On an overall performance rating It must also be remembered that in the Galle Test Sri Lanka missed a few vital chances which came back to haunt them and the fielding of the Indians was simply brilliant! Missed catches lose matches!

Come Friday, it is expected that Sri Lanka's prestige of the crushing First Test win lost as a result of the ignominy of the Galle loss should be restored despite all the Indian Hoopla and Hype where regardless of everything that might be eloquently dispensed towards this, cricket still remains a game of glorious uncertainties where mitigating factors only suggest that the balance will swing in Sri Lanka's favour regardless of who wins the toss!
This then will be a battle royal between Lions and Tigers it is hoped!

© Top Spin By Suni

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