by Rex Clementine
Cynics had dismissed Roy Dias as old school and didn’t give him the credit that he deserved as Sri Lanka Under – 19 won an ODI and unofficial Test series in England in 2016 but when you look at the players he groomed as the nation’s under-19 coach some five years ago, there’s something special about them.
There’s Wanindu Hasaranga, who is a star in the world stage already and there are several others who could go on the same way. Within 48 hours this week, Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka scored their maiden ODI hundreds and match winning ones too as Sri Lanka buried the Aussies recording a come from behind series win.
Not just the trio of Nissanka, Asalanka and Hasaranga but many boys who came through the under-19 team which Roy looked after have made an impact early in their careers. There’s Asitha Fernando and Praveen Jayawickrama who have come up with match winning performances in Test match cricket while Lahiru Kumara and Avishka Fernando have had their moments in limited overs cricket. There’s also Kamindu Mendis and although he’s yet to make an impact, there aren’t many youngsters around with his leadership skills.
From Roy what you get is not just sound advice on batting technique. There’s much more to his coaching like how a cricketer should carry himself and if he puts in the hard yards and remained grounded there are endless opportunities in the game. Roy’s methods have worked and five years since they have passed on from the Under-19 team, they are delivering at the biggest stage as Sri Lanka created a huge upset beating the Australians with a game to spare.
There’s been never a doubt about Roy’s coaching skills. He was Sri Lanka Head Coach when Arjuna Ranatunga’s side created history by winning the nation’s first ever Test match in England in 1998. Roy doesn’t seek the limelight and he is determinedly low profile hardly appearing in television talk shows or press interviews. He is happy for his players to take all the credit and move on. While we look for coaches from overseas to take charge of the national teams, locals like Roy never get their due recognition. Another capable person by the name of Duleep Mendis has moved on and he has done wonders with Oman cricket. Glad Roy decided to remain with the Under-19 players rather than move out.
Lot of fans are aware that Rahul Dravid developed some terrific young players during his time as India Under-19 coach, but not much of appreciation is given to Roy for what he has done.
This series against Australia has been a hard fought one and Sri Lanka’s young side put up a tremendous performance to clinch the series with a game to spare. In every game, they were put under pressure by a side that was far superior on paper. But several young players have come up with match winning performances and Sri Lanka’s stocks in white ball cricket are rising.
The series win is unlikely to earn Sri Lanka automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup. But the improved performance will help them to climb up the rankings and that augurs well moving forward.
Sweeping their way to disaster
by Rex Clementine
When South Africa hosted the 2003 World Cup, their first major cricket event to be staged in the country, Dr. Ali Bacher and his team put up a superb show. They were quite sure of going through all the way as well but their cockiness came back to hurt them as they were knocked out in the first round itself. The manner in which they failed to qualify made South Africa the laughing stock as they made an error with calculations of their target in rain affected games. It is one of the most embarrassing moments in history of cricket. Last week, in Galle Sri Lanka came up with an equally disgraceful performance as they surrendered the first Test before lunch on day three.
Sri Lankan batsmen lacked intent, character and focus as they were shot out in 22.5 overs. That’s the most gutless performance a Sri Lankan side has come up with in the recent history. A Sri Lankan under-19 side would have come up with a better performance and given the Test team’s effort, the selectors will be left with little choice than to throw someone like Dunith Wellalage into the deep end hoping that there will be someone who values his wicket rather than giving in meekly without a fight.
Even the Australians were surprised and bemused as to how sheepishly the hosts surrendered. What that defeat also means is that Sri Lanka’s hopes of an appearance in the World Test Championship are as good as over. The team had got their batting strategies awfully wrong. There are players in this line-up who have come up with back to the wall match winning and match saving efforts under pressure both home and away. But in the first Test, instead of trusting their defense, Sri Lankan batsmen were content to sweep their way out of trouble. Their theory was that with fielders crowding the bat and the ball turning viciously, survival was impossible. Now that the sweep backfired, what if had they trusted their natural game. Someone like Dimuth Karunaratne has seen far better spin attacks than what Australia had. Anyway he’s not a big sweeper. There are ofcourse sweepers in the side like Niroshan Dickwella. The team would have been better off trusting their strengths. Simply because the sweep worked for Australia, you can’t say it’s going to work for you too. The sweep is an high risk shot. Why Australia succeeded playing it largely was because Sri Lanka bowled crap. Australia bowled decent stuff. By bowling decently, on that Galle wicket Travis Head picked up four wickets. He had not taken a single wicket in Test cricket prior to that. It was also poor planning by Sri Lanka. Lasith Embuldeniya had struggled in Bangladesh and was dropped. He could have played against Australia ‘A’ and made a comeback. But they didn’t do that. Instead, he was told to regain his confidence playing against world’s number one ranked team in Test match cricket. How can you miss a basic thing like that?
It emerged at the post match media briefing that the sweep was premeditated. It seems they will do the same in the second Test too. Good luck to them.
The first Test lasted three days. So did the Tests in Mohali and Bangalore where they suffered heavy defeats against India. There have been series wins over West Indies and Bangladesh in between, but against bigger boys, the Sri Lankans are failing to show up. They suffered an embarrassing series defeat prior to that against England. There was talk at one point of two tiers of Test cricket. If Sri Lanka come up with such pathetic performances, you can not but agree that they deserve to play alongside Afghanistan, Ireland, West Indies and Bangladesh in the lower tier while bigger boys India, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and New Zealand engage in the top tier. You don’t take a Test match beyond lunch on day three, you don’t deserve to play at the highest level. A shameful performance.
Royal win annual tennis encounter against S. Thomas’
Royal College captained by Ramith Herath won the annual Royal-Thomian Tennis encounter played at the S. Thomas’ College tennis courts on Saturday. The team from Reid Avenue won 3-2 to retain the E. F. C. Pereira Challenge Trophy. Thilina Dissanayake’s 9-8 (6) victory over Lisal Goonethilleke and the victories registered by their doubles pairs helped Royal register the win.
Royal skipper Herath conceded a 9-7 defeat to his opposite number Zahid Zihar and Royal also lost the other singles match when Jaitra de Saram scored 9-6 to beat Talal Sabry. In the first doubles, Heshika Perera and Methvan Wijemanne beat Navindu Herarh and Reshana Dwight (9-1).
In the second doubles encounter, Netwin Dharmaratne and Nitila Goonatheleke scored a 9-5 win over Janava de Seram and Venuka Kithnula. Royal are coached by Kavisha Rathnayake, who captained the team in 2019. Royal were also the winners of the Under 13 and Under 15 encounters.
Bumrah cameo and three-for make it India’s day amid rain breaks
India had the best of a stop-start day, adding 78 with their last three standing wickets and then taking four England wickets by the time they scored 78. On a day that only 39 overs were possible because of rain, India placed one hand firmly on the Pataudi Trophy, to secure which they needed merely a draw.
After Ravindra Jadeja completed his third Test century, India’s first out-and-out fast-bowler captain (Kapil Dev was an allrounder), Jasprit Bumrah broke a record held by Brian Lara, along with George Bailey and Keshav Maharaj, even before he came on to bowl, scoring 29 in a 35-run over from Stuart Broad, both a world record for most runs by a batter in an over and the most expensive over in Test cricket.
After adding 41 for the last wicket with Mohammed Siraj, Bumrah went on to take three wickets in his first spell, broken by rain breaks that helped him bowl seven overs on the trot. With India leading by 332 runs and only five England wickets standing at the end of two days, this Test was fast headed towards a territory from where only one team can win.
Jadeja began the day 17 short of a century, but showed no hurry to get there as he kept farming the strike with Mohammed Shami for company. He got to the landmark just before the second new ball became available with England trying short balls against Shami. It looked like a ploy used when waiting for the new ball, but it brought Shami 16 runs before he ramped Stuart Broad straight to fine third man in the last over of the old ball. Against the new ball, Jadeja tried to attack James Anderson but was bowled.
What followed is hard to decipher. At 375 for 9, with three-over-old ball, Broad began bowling short at Bumrah with a strong field square and behind on the leg side and no slip in place on the off side. It was almost like England had erased Lord’s from their minds where Bumrah and Shami made them pay for their short lengths. To make matters worse, Broad bowled five wides and also a no-ball that flew off the top edge for a six. Also Bumrah drove a full toss through the vacant mid-on region, top-edged another four and smacked clean another hook for a six. With one four through midwicket, Bumrah himself landed on his back but middled the shot. The only consolation for England was that Anderson ended the India innings with his 32nd five-wicket haul in Tests.
An absolutely torrid examination followed for England’s batters. Under overcast skies, Bumrah found just enough movement and never faltered in his length. To make it worse, he got two rain breaks in his first spell, much like Anderson got one to prolong his afternoon spell on day one.
Two of Bumrah’s three wickets came off the seventh and eighth balls of the over at a time when batters might have had reason to be thankful they had played an over out. No, said the third umpire, calling no-balls just in time. Alex Lees failed to cover the angle on a delivery from around the wicket, getting beaten so comprehensively he got both lbw and bowled to it. Of course, bowled takes precedence in such cases.
Both Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope played forgettable shots to get out, driving away from the body to balls that were not nearly full enough. Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer caught them in the slips.
In the final one hour, Shami turned up the heat, constantly troubling Root, which probably drew some loose shots from him. Root tried many tricks to steer Shami off his length, but Shami was persistent. He drove away from the body, he walked at Shami, he shuffled outside the line, and just about survived that Bumrah-Shami interrogation when Mohammed Siraj came on half an hour before stumps.
For that whole over, Root kept trying to late-cut Siraj, but the movement off the pitch kept cramping him up. It was the wobble-seam ball that tends to go like an offcutter for Siraj that kept denying Root, and eventually the last ball of the over seamed in appreciably to take the edge through to Rishabh Pant.
Shami was rewarded for his persistence with the wicket of nightwatchman Jack Leach. Jonny Bairstow, who scored 394 runs at a strike rate of 120.12 against New Zealand, didn’t find anything to hit here and ended the day unbeaten on 12 off 47. That should tell you that a batter’s intent can’t regularly work independent of the quality of bowling and conditions. (cricinfo)
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