Test Cricket does not lend itself to the Cowboy Game | Sunday Observer

Test Cricket does not lend itself to the Cowboy Game

The Sri Lankan cricketers who had their limited-over cricket status dented when England beat them prior to the Test series, saw their Test cricket aspirations hit out of the ground by England who thrashed them by 211 runs in the first of three Tests at the Galle International Stadium last Friday.

In the midst of the gloom comes the news that Akila Dananjaya who bowls a cocktail of deliveries has been reported for a suspect action. His problem stems from the fact that he tends to bowl too many variations, like the office, the googly, the straight one, the leg break. Apparently he has no control of his actions and that it is suspect.

We do hope that he will be cleared as he is one of the most talented bowlers in recent times. He may take a tactical stance by sticking to one stock delivery and bowl the other variations at intervals.

Premature ending

Sri Lanka’s performance in the five-day game that had a premature ending in four days, does not speak well of the technique, temperament and commitment of the cricketers in the longer duration of the game.

There is a critical need for a psychological change in approach and attitude. The rapid fire shorter form of the games needs to be shaken off the minds of the players and an entirely new and patient approach is required. This comes from a sense of maturity and judgement and needs to be drilled into all players.

We would like to join the thousands who were in Galle and those listening on radio and watching the action unfolding on TV on the final appearance of left arm spin champion RANGANA HERATH and wish him a glorious retirement.

Most successful

For Herath carrying the label as the most successful left arm spin bowler in world cricket would have been a joyful and emotional moment, so would have been his final appearance in the game he loved, adored, respected and gave his all to the game, team and country.

Present to honour him were students, the current Principal, Old Boys, his former team mates from Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala and his local team mates. It was from this provincial school that he began his rise to fame, fortune and stardom.

A treasured moment for Herath was the presence of his charming wife and two sons. TV Commentator David Lloyd looking at them voiced a prediction that probably two left arm spin champions were in the making--- like father like son.

Not smart cricket

Having said that we move on to the Test that was a debacle. The coach Chandika Hathurusinghe who took over to hosannas and promised so much, in the post match media questioning said that the Lankans did not play SMART cricket.

That was an admission of obvious failure due to poor technique, temperament, approach and commitment of the players to the big time game and unable to shed their one-day approach.

When bowling and after having the Englishmen tottering on 5 for 105 at lunch on day one, that they could not dominate from there speaks poorly of the bowlers.

Mathews obliged

When it came to batting other than the much maligned former Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews who obliged with twin half centuries the rest of the batsmen looked ordinary, with batsmen instead of offering straight bats being prone to play the cross bat and especially the ugly reverse sweep which are off-shoots of the cowboy game and has no place at all in Test cricket.

In bowling there was no bowler who looked threatening. When are we going to have spinners of the class of Abu Fuard, Neil Chanmugam and Muttiah Muralitheran who could win a match on their own with their wiles.

The least said about the Lankan fielding which is their Achilles heel the better. And this is a key aspect that has to be addressed by the coaches.

No bite and sting

It has been customary for us to prepare wickets to suit our spinners and win matches. With Herath failing to produce his magic there was no bite and sting in the other spinners. They should learn from England off-spinner Moeen Ali, left arm leg spinner Leach and the best of the threesome Adil Rashid.

Rashid had the Lankan batters in a flat spin with his biting leg breaks and googlies. Although he did not meet with big success it was exciting to watch him bowl.

England were well aware of our strategy and that was that they would be up on a spinners’ wicket and fine-tuned their strategy playing three spinners who were more penetrative than our spinners.

The England think-tanks had it all planned by playing three spinners. It is said that those who dare win and England dared and their gamble when breaking the pace combination of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad who have served their cricket well and dropping Broad and slotting in an extra spinner paid off.

Two centurions

We are not detracting from the fact that the two batsmen debutant Ben Foakes and Keaton Jennings and the remaining batsmen batted resolutely to take the side to a formidable score of 342 from which score they had the Lankans on the ropes. They showed how.

There were two centuries in the England innings with debutant Foakes making one in the first innings and Keaton Jennings in the second innings. They batted in the manner born and put on show a lesson for our batsmen to follow.

Skipper Dinesh Chandimal suffering an unfortunate groin injury restricted his movements and created a big dent in the batting. He will be missed. A batsman of his calibre is hard to find. We wonder where Lahiru Thirimanne, Kithruwan Vithanage and Chamara Kapugedera are. One of them would have been an ideal replacement for Chandimal.

Taken to the wire

When ‘SPORTSCOPE’ is being read, it will be the final day of the second Test in Pallekelle and local cricket fans will be hoping that the game would have been taken to the wire and not ended early like in Galle and that the home team would have won and tied the series with the decider to go at the SSC. To have lost would be a DISASTER.

By the way play a straight bat and enjoy life because there’s an expiry date on it.

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