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Sunday, 17 January 2010





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Lankan cricketers must take it from here

The Sri Lankan cricketers did well to beat India in the Idea Cup final by four wickets with nine deliveries to spare in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Wednesday.

On the whole the cricketers can feel proud that they downed the much stronger Indians after losing an earlier game to them. But while they are basking in the glory of this victory, they must remember that one swallow does not make a summer.

The selectors and Sri Lanka Cricket led by two former champion cricketers Ashantha de Mel and D. Somachandra de Silva too can blow their trumpets now that the cricketers have succeeded.

Like in life in sport too, team work is essential for success. The cricketers, selectors and SLC worked together in harmony and with the game at heart and the final product was success. GREAT.

No cricket till November

But sadly the cricketers will not have any cricket to give continuity and build on this success. The cricketers will not have any cricket until Chrys Gayle's West Indians arrive here in November later this year.

Some of our star cricketers will have the opportunity of playing in the Indian Premier League and the counties, while the youngsters who showed great promise will be kicking their heels playing in the local scene.

Sri Lanka Cricket will do well to probe all avenues and try and get the youngsters to play some international cricket where ever possible. They must use their influence with their counterparts in other countries and get the youngsters playing.

Before going on to comment on the final that Sri Lanka won, we would like to tell those who matter that the Lankan cricketing cupboard is full of promising material and it is now up to them to give it continuity to further develop it.

Young blood

Also we must reiterate that the limited over games requires that young blood be fielded if success is to be achieved. The youngsters who were showcased in Bangladesh proved this in no uncertain terms and need we say more.

But as earlier stated and in reiterating I would be earning the wrath of his detractors by saying that the 'Matara Mauler' Sanath Jayasuriya is an exception and a phenomenon and he should be included to guide the youngsters when the next edition of the limited-over World Cup is held in the sub-continent.That is my opinion.

Youngsters of the calibre of Chanaka Welagedera, Suraj Randiv, Thissara Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Mahela Udawatte, Pushpakumara and Lahiru Thirimanne are all cricketers with exceptional promise and must be guided and nurtured to give of their best.

Welagedera was forgotten for far too long until he shone in the Twenty20 playing for Wayamba in the Indian league. As a left arm pacie he has the ability to move the ball both ways and extract the bounce that makes him difficult to face. The delivery he got to lift and move to befuddle Yuvraj Singh was a beauty.

Adequate replacements

Randiv and Pushpakumara proved that they can be a adequate replacements for Muttiah Muralitheran who has said that he might consider retiring before the next World Cup.

While Pushpakumara was unfortunate to suffer injury, Randiv grabbed the opportunity and with his wily off spinning had the Indian batsmen guessing. In addition he shows promise of a being a solid batsman and could bolster the middle order.

Thissara Perera is an uncut gem. It is up to the coaches to cut and polish this gem and see that he shines. Critics in their eagerness are tagging him the Lance Klusener of Sri Lanka cricket. While I have nothing against the critics who want to tag him the next Klusner, I don't think Perera is aware as to who or what Lance Klusner is or was. He was a big hitting all rounder who was a big draw and who contributed immensely in the rise of South African cricket.

Perera talented

Perera has the talent. Let him develop and once he gets going in the big league, we will then couple him with Klusner.It must be remembered that former Australian cricketers such as Ian Craig and Doug Walters were tagged as the next Don Bradmans. But what happened to them?

Bradman tags were too heavy for Craig and Walters to carry with them and they came a cropper. We hope that calamity would not befall Thissara Perera. Perera will do well to play according to his abilities and not get carried away with attempts being made to tag him with a great like Klusner. I am sure the critics would understand.

My former colleague Mohamed Vazir Muhsin whose fair comments and wonderful incisive writing was enjoyed and lapped up by readers during the 'Times of Ceylon' and 'Daily Mirror' days did an excellent piece titled ' Thissara Perera a class act' in the 'Daily News', complimenting Perera's demoralizing match winning batting act against India in one of the games.We recommend it to our readers. To the final that Sri Lanka won in Bangladesh and it must be stated that like in life even in sport too LUCK is essential for success. In this aspect while not wanting to belittle the Lankan success, it must be stated that skipper Kumar Sangakkara was lucky to win the toss and ask the Indians to bat.

Demoralising dew factor

In winning the toss and fielding first, the Lankan bowlers were spared the agony of bowling with a wet and slippery ball once the dew set in. Dew was a telling factor throughout the tournament to the sides bowling second and we hope the organizers and the International Cricket Council have learnt.

There is no point in conducting a tournament for the sake of conducting it. Sadly cricket has been made to play second fiddle to the money that floods in. Any tournament has to be competitive. Once the competitive or the cutting edge is lost the cricketers would be singing that Freddie Fender perennial 'Wasted days and wasted nights'.

It was demoralizing spells by pacemen Chanaka Welegedera and Nuwan Kulasekera that broke the back of the Indian batting. Welegedera and Kulasekera bowled life threatening spells intelligently making use of the pace, bounce and movement which the wicket was providing and they had the Indian batting paralyzed at 60 for 5 with the batting big guns Sehwag, Gambhir, Koli, Yuvraj and Dhoni all silenced.

Raina century

Had it not been for the blistering century by Suresh Raina 106 and Ravindra Jadeja 38 who put on 106, the Indians would have been in a sorry plight and would have been no competitors. Then in the victory chase Tillakaratne Dilshan 49, Kumar Sangakkara 55, Mahela Jayawardena 71 unbeaten with useful contributions from Samaraweera 27, Kandamby 18 and Randiv 17 took Sri Lanka to a famous victory by four wickets. When the young team took wing to Bangladesh, not many gave them a chance.But they delivered.

( More on it in the 'Daily News' on Tuesday)


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