Some Food For Thought For Sri Lankan Cricket In The Wake Of The Recent ODI Losses To India.

© Top Spin By Suni For LankaWeb Cricket

August 27th 2008

Perhaps it's about time the Sri Lankan cricketers began evaluating their cricketing losses as pathetic and unnecessary given all the mitigating factors to win, such as home turf, familiar environment and huge supportive crowds for starters which hovers around in their favour unmistakably and there's much more if viewed objectively such as national pride, unlimited individual talent and all the resources which contribute towards making a winning team but somehow Sri Lanka has not come up winners in the IDEA Cup which seems an ironically appropriate name where Sri Lanka certainly seems to be in need of new ideas!

The losses in Dambulla and now Colombo are unforgivable and fair reproaching needed towards correcting many blemishes in various areas of the game as the losses come after the convincing wins in the longer version of the game so Mr. Mahela Jayawardena and the Selection Committee please take note with no affront!

This was not the sparkling, star studded team which beat India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup recently and somehow seems to have lost the thirst for victory along with the zip and zest that goes with it so could it be the absence of names such as Malinga, Maharoof, Fernando, Tharanga, Silva etc. from the squad, some of whom were genuinely absent due to injury and others caught in the circumspect shuffling of names in a desperation, the side effects of which surely showed on the field at Premadasa Stadium yesterday?

While Upul Tharanga is in the thick of runs with the 'A' Team and Chamara Silva often compared with Aravinda de Silva for his batting and brilliant fielding both of whom have been sadly overlooked for consistent inclusion in the team there are a few passengers in the side who would perhaps be better off as spectarors when the eventual coming together of the team as the former unit of excellence manifests itself as this is not a team of Sri Lankans deserving the stamp ~ LOSERS and should really be sitting in the winners circle!

While there is a very apparent wealth of talent in the team and the losses to India inexcusable it must also be taken into consideration that this is an Indian team sans big guns Shewag, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble and co. irrespective of status relative to Test or ODI and others of the calibre of Sharma, Sreesanth,Powar,Chawla. and a few more recently budded brilliant youngblood, also add ons to the list of Indian performance factors but simply put the losses have to be considered demoralising particularly in front of adoring home audiences by a team which very nearly had Australia on the ropes in the last World Cup!.

It has to be said however that the Indian bowling attack spearheaded by the Singhs, Patels, Khans et al were a feature of no mean accomplishment which overwhelmed the Lankans on wickets overall which seemed to favour the batsment. While Mahela Jayawardena is still awaiting Murphy's Law to favour him in the tosses! and Mahender Singh Dhoni 's secret amulet towards good luck which he wears round his neck continues to hold him in good stead and Mahela is said to be seriously considering acquiring one for himself towards good measure the Sri lankan ODI woes have continued!!!

Tongue in cheek aside! For some inexplicable reason the Sri Lankans do not seem to be able to take full advantage of their home environment (Bearing in mind that England in similar circumstances are walking all over South Africa!) towards fully accomplishing their ojectives towards convincing wins in the shorter versions of the game or is it some kind of burnout due to hectic schedules which have shown them to be erratic, lackadaisical and half hearted so much to the chagrin of their image translating also to the huge dissapointments of their adoring fans and if so needing immediate remedying.

All this in the face of all the big talk and promises to deliver by the likes of Sangakkara and Jayawardena who often tend to articulate speculatively about what totals are gettable and how they will get it etc etc. which is becoming somewhat of a monotonous prattle as they continue to fall by the wayside soon after the 'promises to deliver' speeches are uttered where a stiff upperlip and a practical approach might seem a better choice !

Then comes this bewildering attitude of Skipper Mahela Jayawardena whose field setting at times, the bowling changes and how he handles his players on set which appears to be traits of a somewhat disoriented captain which makes one wonder whether he is in fact really equipped for the job despite past acollades for his astuteness in decision making and how he calls the shots whilst resting on ones laurels perhaps?

This combined with Sri Lanka's top order batsmen who love to flail outside the off stump and seems obliged to make even an ordinary delivery look pretty darned good! and the pathetic running between wickets often resulting in heartbreaking and at time comical runouts now almost a hallmark of the Lankans certainly needs addressing with a more resourceful approach towards the end result! Otherwise a set of rocket engines might have to be installed in their derrieres and their thinking caps refurbished towards establishing the relativities of time, vision and distance relative to field placing and throwing capacities in a manner of speaking to avoid these nasty runouts.

Despite his individual brilliance as a batsman and fielder Mahela seems to have lost his concentration about how to make the right decision at the appropriate time and his handling of the bowling attack and shuffling of the bowlers which at times however has produced the necessary breakthrough although overall seems to be more trial and error based, lately and unfavourable towards the end result. For instance, in the latest loss he certainly took his time to bring on Murali, easily the world's best rated spinner and played him as second fiddle to new find Ajantha Mendis which was a pathetic decision where Murali should have in fact been introduced much earlier and Mendis used as a secret weapon.Thushara's brilliance too was suppressed to almost the very end where his incredible burst of attacking bowling was rewarded with his first ODI 5 for haul! leaving a huge "what if" relative to outcome had he opened the bowling with Chaminda Vaas for whom Thushara seems mirror imaged as a replacement for the future !

It is no understatement that Mahela tends to go into a shell and approach the game negatively the moment the opposition gets into high gear and his state of mind towards applying pressure to dismantle the opposition ( a leaf which he should have gleaned from his predecessor Arjuna Ranatunga's book) is far removed from attacking from all fronts. There are glaring errors in field setting with his "save the boundary, to hell with the singles, slip cordons and close infielders" tactics( Ricky Ponting eat your heart out!) which could intimidate the batsman which to the contrary is often pounced upon by a gleeful opposition which reduces him to very circumspect and negative by comparison with the likes of Arjuna Ranatunga who was seen grim faced at the grounds over the pathetic performance of the Lankans in this must win game as well as the previously lost games which one can safely attribute as having been squandered and one can hardly blame the great man who must surely have been joined by vast numbers of dissapointed fans!

Despite the negative hype, Sri Lanka has cause to be positive towards the future through the new finds Ajantha Mendis and now Thushara the latter whose brilliant bowling and concerted delightful hitting was a highlight of the Sri Lankan performance which was also embellished by the evergreen Sanath Jayasuriya whose youthful zest for cricket by far supercedes the performances of a few rated players and adds towards expectations as his role model presence is an elixir towards Sri Lanka's cricketing well being despite the recent losses.

Hopefully the final engagement at the Premadasa Stadium will prove to be fortuitous for Sri Lanka albeit token and compensatory towards morale but woe be unto the Lankans should they concede this game too in a resignation which sometimes seem to pall their performances in a rubber series, the outcome of which outcome has already been decided and the Lions might have to wait for the reunification of the team relative to messers.Malinga, Maharoof and Fernando and others whose absences surely seem very conspicuous at this juncture.

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