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Sunday, 29 January 2012

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Jayawardene's return to lead team applauded

The reappointment of Mahela Jayawardene to lead the team, first to the Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series in Australia starting early next month which also features Australia and India, has been applauded and welcomed by the discerning and the connossieurs of the game.

As usual there will be those who have not handled a bat or a ball, who will want to show their heroics and went their spleen on the reappointment of Jayawardene and would want to tease him and upset him with their hollow brickbats.

Before going on to further comment on the recalling of Jayawardene, I would be remiss if I did not congratulate the new selecton committee headed by the former dashing all rounder Ashantha de Mel and his other team members - Don Anurasiri, Amal Silva and Hemantha Wickremaratne for their bold and courageous step.

Selectors right

The selectors have not only done right by reappointing Jayawardene, but they have also picked the best squad possible, who if they play and perform to ability, should fly back proudly holding aloft the Commonwealth Bank Trophy.

As usual the selectors too will have their frustrated critics. Who does not? But that should not unduly worry them. By now they should all be weather beaten individuals with thick hides and like they did when playing, should let these innocuous bouncers just pass over.

They will do well to understand that critics too have their hidden agendas and will blindly swing, because most of them haven't played the game. And as the saying goes Jayawardene and the selectors, must take it all on the bump.

Cricket in poor state

The new selectors have been brought in at a time when Sri Lanka cricket is in a very poor state. Never before as the game suffered such ignominy. Four series defeats to Australia, England, Pakistan and South Africa are unimaginable and unacceptable.

The defeats can be attributed to several reasons. The chief reason being that there was no team spirit, not playing as a team. How can one function as a team when we have a situation where captain Tillakaratne Dilshan not receiving the support of many players; players not talking to each other; and some of the coaches too not talking to players.

In that polluted atmosphere and conditions how could a team be expected to perform? There is not much time left to sort out these problems before taking wing to kangaroo land. But we are sure that with Jayawardene taking over, peace and harmony will prevail and the team will focus and perform.

Onerous job

Jayawardene has been in the saddle before. He must be admired for taking over this onerous job once again. When he was leading, he did a magnificent job and many were the successes and trophies that came the Sri Lanka way.

With others wanting and craving to lead the country a vicious campaign was started to oust him from the captaincy and when he began failing in a one-day series against India, his critics took to the streets, as it were, which led to his ousting.

It was the selectors and those running the game at that time who should be held responsible for Jayawardene having to abdicate when he was riding a crest of a wave of success. When he was struggling, they all deserted him.

'Twas a sacrilege

It was a sacrilege and from the moment Jayawardene said enough is enough. And so Sri Lanka cricket moved to Skid Street and still remains there. Thankfully Jayawardene has been called in again to steer the cricketing jet from turbulence to safety. Jayawardene would not have been faulted had he turned his back on the offer. But being the patriot and the gentleman that he is, he realized the plight that the game and the good name of the country is in and was quick to accept the offer.

Instead of admiring the selectors and Jayawardene for their bold act in their endeavour to resurrect the game and its dwindling fortunes, frustrated critics have begun name calling and trying to belittle Jayawardene and upset the apple cart.

Sheeps clothing

Our advice to Jayawardene is to be wary of wolves in sheep clothing. He will also do well to ponder on that famous adage - I know where I stand with my enemies. But not with my friends! What's striking in the 15-man squad to Australia is the comeback of allrounder Farveez Maharoof. Maharoof as a schoolboy showed immense talent and it did not take long for the national call to come his way. But surprisingly injury and sudden dip in form saw him off the selectors radar.

He was recalled to the team in England and one expected him to grab the opportunity, perform and cement his place. But again failed to find the form with both bat and ball that he was renowned for.

Performing well

But he has been performing well for his club the Nondescripts in the domestic game which prompted the new selectors to give him another go. Its refreshing that cricketers feel that not all is lost when one's performance dips temporarily.

In today's game allrounders don't come dime a dozen. A quick study of the international scene will find that not many allrounders are dominating. When one is gifted as an allrounder, then that gift must not be allowed to go into waste.

The one-day game required allrounders of the calibre of Farveez Maharoof. This probably would be Maharoof's last chance. So let him be determined to perform like a true allrounder.

Best available

All in all, the squad to Australia looks the best available. On paper it is a formidable side with players with the right temperament and ability to deliver. They need is to believe in themselves and in each other and then the pieces will begin to fit together.

We will be in Australia describing the action on and off field. Stay with the Sunday Observer and the Daily News for regular analysis and insights of the games.

erodrigopulle@gmail.com

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