Mahela Jayawardene the role model
There were three outstanding achievements in Sri Lanka's 76-run win
over Pakistan in the Second One-Day game under lights at the Pallekele
International Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
The first was by Sri Lanka's charismatic 'Captain Marvellous' Mahela
Jayawardene , who in blazing to 53, reached a milestone by reaching
22,000 runs in all forms of the game.
The second was wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara snapping up his 300th
one-day international catch and all rounder Thisara Perera setting a new
one-day bowling record when he captured 6 for 44, beating Sanath
Jayasuriya's record against Pakistan.
In reaching that mark, how many more kilometers would Jayawardene
have motored down the wicket running, not only his singles, twos and
threes, but also when his partners pierced the field.
He would have spent tons of energy. But for this gallant cricketer,
the sweat and toil would all have been for game and country, rather than
for himself. He has always been a role model and a cricketing Ambassador
for the game.
A stylish and technically correct batsman, he can be classed with the
best batsmen that the game has produced here and abroad. Offering a
straight bat while batting, and even in life, Jayawardene is an example
and a pride to the game and country.
He is humble to a fault. When he had a batting slump, which every
great batsman goes through - even the great Sir Donald Bradman suffered
this trauma - his critics bayed for his removal as captain.
Threw in the towel
with the men who matter at that time, refusing to stand by him, he
threw in the towel and relinquished the captaincy. Because for him, the
game is the thing. But he continued to bat on and serve the game to the
best of his ability.
When defeat after defeat brought cricket to its knees and when our
game lost its appeal, Sri Lanka Cricket were frantic and looking for a
captain who help them regain their lost esteem and glory.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. SLC had no other alternative but to
ask Jayawardene to come back as captain and resurrect the game. Once
bitten, twice shy goes the saying.
But Jayawardene did not say no. No one would have faulted him had he
said no. But he realized that his country needed him and heeded their
request and in a short stint has helped the game regain its lost appeal
His batting is an example to the youngsters watching and taking to
the game. He is technically correct always plays straight, when the
Twenty20 game is spoiling the technique of most batmen and runs have
come naturally to him.
His straight bat play is reminiscent of a Michael Tissera, Anura
Tennekoon, Roy Dias, Marvan Atapattu and Sidath Wettimuny.
After the launch of the 100th day countdown to the Twenty20 World Cup
at the Pallekele Stadium, when I congratulated and wished him another
22,000 runs, sporting that winsome smile he shrugged his shoulders, as
if to say 'god willing'. He should be labelled a national treasure.
Sangakkara's 300th catch
Former Captain and wicket keeper Kumar Sangakkara also rewrote the
record books when he grabbed his 300th ODI catch which is also a great
thing to crow about.
Sangakkara as a wicket-keeper is indispensable in this form of game.
There were moves to replace him with Dinesh Chandimal. But he has clung
on to this position and excelled. To grab 300 catches and some of them
stunning ones is incredible.
He has shed his gloves in the longer version of the game because
there is a belief that if he continues it would affect his batting. That
is good thinking and we are sure Sangakkara would not mind that.
ICC gets priorities wrong
The International Cricket Council was called a 'toothless tiger',
because other than for meeting to discuss when to hold the next meeting
they did sweet nothing for the game. The 'toothless tiger' term was
slapped on them long before the 'casino' Twenty20 saw the light of the
day. The ICC reps who come here are good singers and they sing the
praises of the Twenty20 as if it was manna from heaven. They describe it
as exciting, skilful and thrilling and at times run short of adjectives.
'Come or go, Chicago'
True this game is exciting. But it has no sense. It is a 'come or go
Chicago' style of game and is a disgrace on the time honoured and
traditional game of Test cricket.
Other than for filling the pockets of the people concerned, it does
sweet nothing for the good of the participant or the game. Technique has
gone with the wind. That is why today, the authorities in Sri Lanka have
banned youngsters from taking to this style of nonsensical cricket. The
authorities must be applauded for taking this bold step.
When I was on a tour of Australia with the Sri Lanka cricket team in
1987 with Ranjan Madugalle as Captain and Abu Fuard as Manager, I met
former Australian leg spinning all rounder the great 'Tiger' Bill
O'Reiley who was writing for the 'Sydney Morning Herald' in the Press
Box and while talking cricket I asked him for his comments on the
He got red in the face and immediately blurted out saying: 'I'd
rather turn my chair and watch my back wall, than watch this silly
cricket'. One can just imagine what he would have said about Twenty20
cricket. A pertinent question to ask the ICC is: What are you doing to
make Test cricket, which is what the game is all about as attractive as
the nonsensical One-Day and Twent20?. Whatever happened to the Test
Championships that the ICC gloated about?