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Sunday, 8 February 2009





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Selectors on a good wicket

The Sri Lanka Cricket selectors seem to be on the right pitch, if the team picked to Pakistan for Two Test matches is an indication.

They have tossed in Tharanga Paranavitharana, a heavy scoring opening batsman who has struck it rich for the SSC. He is full of potential and it is hoped that the selectors will stick with him and give him all important consistency that one making his debut requires.

The selectors have also, along with Paranavitharana, bowled in Suranga Lakmal, who bowls pace for Bloomfield and who has also shown a lot of promise having with him good pace and clever movement.

The squad will be playing two Test matches in Pakistan and it was paramount that promising youngsters be given a 'go'.

The selectors would also have been appreciated had they recalled Indika de Saram who has been scoring a lot of runs for Ragama SC. I saw him on a tour of Zimbabwe and he showed good technique and temperament required for the longer duration of the game.

But a sudden dip in form saw him missing from the selectors' radar and now that he is back in the picture, he requires a recall.

With the Sri Lankans having lost four of the five one-day internationals, at the time of writing, to India, it required that new faces be plonked in, if the Lankans were come out of the quagmire that they are in.

But that has not been done. Probably the selectors are wagering on the old hands to deliver in the remaining game and save face by not being white-washed, so the refusal to go for new blood.

Well and good if the old hands deliver. If not ......

Bubble bursts for Aussies

The Aussies invincible cricketing bubble has finally been blasted. They who were dominating both versions of the game - Test and 'one-day' cricket were brought down to earth, first by South Africa and now New Zealand.

The Kangaroos were hopping, rolling over all of the teams they faced, so much so that it went to head and their cricketing arrogance was the order.

But with the retirement of their magnificent six - Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, Adam Gilchrist, Glen Mcgrath and Shane Warne, they are now in the dumps.

Their newcomers don't seem to have the talent and the killer instrinct' that the magnificent six had and until talent like those gone emerge, they will be biting the bullet. That's how the game goes.

In addition, their pace spearhead Bruce Lee is having surgery for stress fractures in his ankles and Stuart Clarke is also sidelined with injury.

Ricky Ponting who has been having a bad run as captain in recent games has been rested for the next two one-dayers against New Zealand. Is it an indication that his days are numbered as captain? Only time will tell.

ICC in poor light

Richie Benaud, the former famed Australian captain and allrounder who along with the late great West-Indies captain and another allrounder Sir Frank Worrell brought Test cricket to life in the early sixties, playing one of the best Test series ever, tagged the International Cricket Council a 'toothless tiger'.

Benaud said this because he was convinced that the ICC, instead of doing things for the game, was only meeting to decide when to meet again.

What Benaud said then still holds good considering the fiasco that has taken place where the England-Pakistan Test match played at the Oval in England in 2006 at the recent ICC meeting in Perth, Australia.

In an initial meeting they awarded the win to England. They changed it to a 'match abandoned' result and now they have, like women, want to do changed their minds and awarded the game to England.

It won't be surprising if ICC if like Benaud said decide to meet again and revoke the decision.

Mind you, this Test was played in 2006 and the ICC dragged their feet on this issue for nearly three years. Cricketers are expected to make and remake the record books. In this instance, the ICC too has also rewritten the record books.

The saga to this was that umpires Darrel Hair and Billy Doctrove had the courage to stand by their convictions when they alleged that the Pakistanis were guilty of ball tampering. The umpires penalised Pakistan five penalty runs.

This led to the Pakistan captain Inzamam Ul-Haq and his team refusing to take the field after tea on the fourth day and the umpires had no other alternative but to rule that Pakistan had forfeited the match and awarded it to England. This was the first forfeit in cricket history.

However, Pakistan was cleared of ball-tampering which led to umpire Hair being removed from the panel of elite umpires, while his partner Doctrove was allowed scott free, which was not fair by Hair.

Apparently the ICC had to change gear again because pressure from the Marylebone Cricket Club had said it believed the move contravened the laws of cricket and set a 'very dangerous' precedent.

Obviously this result would have angered the Pakistan Cricket Board who will only have to grin and bear.

Pakistan seem to be at the receiving end these days. Adding insult to injury is the decision by the ICC to deprive the Pakistanis of holding the ICC Champions Trophy 2009 and relocating to some other country, probably Sri Lanka.

Pakistan, in hosting the Lankans to a one-day series and a Two Match Test series later this month, have proved that the country is safe for sport, especially cricket.

But it is inexplicable why the ICC cannot put their foot down and insist that the Champions Trophy be played in Pakistan.

Probably the ICC would have had in mind that if it was to be played in Pakistan, the World Bank that is cricket India, would be missing. That the ICC cannot afford.


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