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Numbers aren’t backing up Dickwella



by Rex Clementine 

Ever wonder why a 19-year-old Asanka Gurusinha made his Test debut as a wicketkeeper in Karachi in 1985? Well, the team’s wicketkeeper Amal Silva had been given clear instructions not to hook, but yet he tried his luck and was dismissed and had hell to pay. The team’s supremo Abu Fuard ran Sri Lankan cricket with an iron fist those days. No one crossed his path. Nobody defied his orders.

Had Abu been living today, on the cricket team’s return to the team hotel after a day-night game at Suriyawewa, he would have told Niroshan Dickwella to get off the team bus in middle of the road. That road is as good as a jungle and wondering around there after nightfall is not the most sensible thing to do. Abu did not treat adults with kids’ gloves. Sink or swim was his theory.

There’ll be those who say that times have changed and Abu’s methods wouldn’t have worked in the modern day. But how else would you get Dickwella to fall in line? After nearly ten years of Test cricket and more than 50 Tests, he’s yet to make a hundred. Only a no nonsense approach will work with him.

Ricky Ponting had an altercation in a nightclub and Cricket Australia came down hard on him. It required Steve Waugh to sit down the young prodigy and to make him realize his potential.

Virat Kohli walked into the big stage at the same time IPL was launched. He went to the franchise owned by showman Vijay Mallaya – Royal Challengers Bangalore. Whether they were winning in cricket or not, off the field RCB were doing it all in grand style. Their after match parties were legendary.

Like in the case of Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar had to take Kohli under his wing and make him realize that he could go onto become world’s best batter if he focused on his cricket.

Dickwella will turn 30 this year. There’s no point of sitting him down now. Even if Viv Richards comes and talks, he’d be in no mood to listen as he lives in his own world reminding us that in the world of blind the one eyed man is king.

The selectors are already giving indications of needing to move on. It’ll be a crime to see Nishan Madushka carrying drinks at the Basin Reserve where the second Test will be played after the prolific year he’s had.

keeping has been flawless. It’s his batting that irritates people. A low full toss had got him trapped leg before wicket in the first innings. To add insult to injury, Dickwella went onto burn a review. If Sri Lanka win the first Test, captain Dimuth Karunaratne will argue that he needs to play the winning team and the captain’s wish should be granted. But you can sense that patience is running thin.

Before the start of the first Test. Dimuth  defended Dickwella. He argued that in Test match cricket you need to have your best keeper on show. Fair point. The captain also went onto touch on Prasanna Jayawardene days. How he had kept other keepers at bay.

There should be no comparison between PJ and Dickwella. PJ is by far one of the best keepers to play the game. Plus, his 58 Tests produced four hundreds and a Player of the Series award in England. His only blemish was turning down the Test captaincy in 2011 at Rose Bowl when Duleep Mendis offered it to him on a platter.

A closer look at the manner in which Dickwella moves about things will also suggest that he’s a team player and which is why Dimuth throws his weight behind him. But the selectors look for only one thing in the end and that’s numbers. Sadly, Dickwella is not covering himself with glory when it comes to numbers. First they axed him from the white ball teams and now they are all out to get rid of him from the Test side and you can’t really find fault with the selectors.  Dickwella was one of the three players who was sent home from England for breaching COVID protocols in 2021. His comeback game was in Mohali. Usually when players come after such bans they have a point to prove and fight it out in the middle. How did Dickwella’s comeback go? Ravindra Jadeja tempted him to sweep with two fielders square of the wicket waiting for the top edge and our man fell into the trap hitting it straight to square leg fielder.

Some say the sweep is Dickwella’s bread and butter. Well, if your staple diet is continuously giving you an upset stomach, you have an easy choice to make. Not Dickwella though.

When Dickwella was about to make it to the senior side, his school coach at Trinity College Sampath Perera predicted a bright future for the lad, but hoped that he maintained his discipline. Perera perhaps knows that the national cricket team is a place of distraction and you need to keep your focus.

Dickwella is an immensely skillful cricketer. He’s able to get under the skin of the opposition, he’s creative and well versed in laws of cricket and plays to win. These are characteristics any captain would love. Ideally, today he should be Dimuth’s understudy. But sadly Dickwella and numbers don’t match up. He’s got to redeem himself in the second innings. Or there will be curtains. It will be a shame. You don’t find many players scooping Kagido Rabada thunderbolts clocked at 150 kmph.

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Dhananjaya de Silva returns as Sri Lanka bat first in Hamilton




Dhananjaya de Silva returned to the team (pic Cricinfo)
Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat first, on what captain Dasun Shanaka felt should be a good batting track in the third ODI in Hamilton. New Zealand captain Tom Latham said he would have bowled first anyway, mostly because the dew that forms in the evening can hamper the side bowling second. A damp ball is not only harder for bowlers to grip, it can also skid on off the surface, which tends to aid batters.
Sri Lanka strengthened their batting for this match, having been blasted out for 76 in the first ODI. They brought in Dhananjaya de Silva into the XI, dropping seam bowler Dilshan Madushanka from the side. This means they will field only two frontline seamers, in Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara, and will need overs from the likes of Chamika Karunaratne, who was in good rhythm in Auckland, Shanaka himself, and de Silva as well.
New Zealand made two changes forced by some of their players departing for the IPL. Glenn Phillips and Finn Allen, both of whom did well in the first ODI, exit the side, and in their place come Tom Blundell and Henry Nicholls. Blundell will open alongside Chad Bowes.
The toss was conducted under blue skies, and the weather is expected to remain good through the course of the encounter.
New Zealand:  Tom Blundell, Chad Bowes, Will Young,  Daryl Mitchell,  Tom Latham (capt.)(wk),  Henry Nicholls,  Rachin Ravindra, Henry Shipley,  Matt Henry,  Ish Sodhi,  Blair Tickner
Sri Lanka: Pathum Nissanka,  Nuwanidu Fernando,  Kusal Mendis (wk),  Angelo Mathews,  Charith Asalanka,  Dhananjaya de Silva,  Dasun Shanaka (capt,),  Chamika Karunaratne,  Wanindu Hasaranga,  Kasun Rajitha,  Lahiru Kumara
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Sri Lanka face in-form hosts in last bid to keep World Cup qualification hopes alive



Sri Lanka need a win to hold on to any hopes of direct qualification for the World Cup

While the rained out second ODI in Christchurch would have no doubt been frustrating for both sets of players, the fact remains that its impact on the grander scheme of things was rather minimal – at least in terms of the World Cup Super League.

Having shared the points, and despite Sri Lanka also being docked a Super League point for a slow over-rate in the first ODI, the equation nevertheless remains the same for the visitors; win the game on Friday and force South Africa and Ireland to win their remaining games this World Cup cycle. Indeed, if both slip up, as improbable as it may be, Sri Lanka might just sneak into the final automatic qualification spots.

But to even entertain that distant notion Sri Lanka must first go out and beat New Zealand in Hamilton – a ground where the hosts have won 10 of their last 12 completed ODIs dating back to 2014. Sri Lanka, though in fairness, are one of the two sides to have beaten the hosts during that period. But of course, that was a far more vintage Sri Lankan line-up with a top order stacked with modern-day greats such as Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

This present Sri Lankan outfit doesn’t quite boast the same pedigree, even if Angelo Mathews remains a tether between the two, but it’s by no means a poor one – they have in fact beaten both Australia and South Africa, albeit at home, in recent times – so facing off against a New Zealand team shorn of several of its first choice players should have in theory made for some quite competitive cricket, home or away. Which is what made the outcome of that first, tremendously one-sided ODI so jarring.

It’s been nearly a week since then, and the washed-out second match would have no doubt given the visitors an extra couple of days to stew over that abysmal performance in Auckland.

Going into the series decider New Zealand will once more be fielding a bunch of players pushing hard for World Cup spots. As for Sri Lanka, what they’ve brought recently hasn’t been anywhere near good enough. Qualification may be out of their hands too, but it would be nice if they at least gave themselves a shot at it.

He has had to bide his time, but at 30 years of age Chad Bowes finally made his long-awaited international bow in the first ODI. And while his stay at the crease might have been brief, it gave the sense of a man at ease with his game. That said, his primary position is at the top of the order – an area admittedly not top of the hosts’ pre-World Cup priorities. But with plenty of white-ball cricket ahead of the tournament, a trademark Bowes barrage on Friday certainly wouldn’t hurt his chances of settling in the selectors’ thoughts.

It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Dhananjaya de Silva has flattered to deceive throughout his career. In Tests, 3006 runs at an average of 38.53 hints at unfulfilled potential. In T20Is, he’s proven to be a handy allrounder with his speedy offbreaks – though it says something when it’s his bowling rather than batting that tends to be the key factor in his inclusion. His worst format is then arguably ODIs, where he strikes at just 78 and averages 26.28. Nevertheless his omission from the first one-dayer caused a minor social media furore, illustrating how highly he is regarded despite his shortcomings. If Sri Lanka are to build a successful head of steam leading to the World Cup, Dhananjaya – among others – will need to start living up to the hype.

New Zealand (probable):

Henry Nicholls, Chad Bowes, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham (capt, wk), Mark Chapman, Rachin Ravindra, Henry Shipley, Matt Henry, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner

Sri Lanka (possible):

Pathum Nissanka, Nuwanidu Fernando, Kusal Mendis (wk), Angelo Mathews, Charith Asalanka, Dasun Shanaka (capt), Dhananjaya de Silva, Chamika Karunaratne, Wanindu Hasaranga, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara.

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Dharshana, Dilshi among top athletes to create new meet records



Sprinter Aruna Dharshana registered the second fastest time by a Sri Lankan in the men’s 200 metres and Dilshi Kumarasinghe returned to winning ways as they created new meet record marks on day two of the 58th Army Athletics Championships at Diyagama on Thursday. Dharshana who had to face disappointment after being disqualified for a foul start at the same venue at the first selection trial 10 days ago, overcame the disappointment yesterday when he clocked 20.65 seconds to win the men’s 200 metres.

His blazing performance is now second only to Yupun Abeykoon’s national record performance of 20.37 seconds in the men’s 200 metres. Dharshana’s feat is now the fastest by a Sri Lankan on home soil as he overtook Vinoj Suranjaya’s 20.68 seconds feat of 2018.

Kumarasinghe established the meet record when she returned a time of 2:04.89 seconds to win the women’s 800 metres.  Nilani Ratnayake gave the second day an exciting start as she clocked 9:55.20 seconds to win the women’s 3,000 metres steeplechase in a new meet record performance.

H.S.E. Janith meanwhile created a new national record with a feat of 5.16 metres in the men’s pole vault.    In the men’s and women’s 10,000 metres race walking events P.H.S.L. Fernando and U.V.K. Madirika established national records. Fernando returned a time of 45:12.22 seconds to win his event while Madirika clocked 49:25.97 seconds for her victory.


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