Oh Captain! My Captain!: Who will it be? | Sunday Observer

Oh Captain! My Captain!: Who will it be?

14 April, 2019

It’s an unenviable task for Sri Lanka Cricket. With the 2019 World Cup quietly drawing closer, Sri Lanka Cricket is bending backwards to do all they can to field the best cricketers who could perform with the odds stacked against them.

This glittering tournament keeps hotting up with each passing day and when the umpires call ‘play’ in the first game, the cricket world will go crazy glued to the televisions and radios taking in the action and the cricket world will be eating, drinking and sleeping cricket. SLC and the selectors are leaving no stone unturned to see that Sri Lanka wins the trophy for the second time. The selectors’ biggest problem and headache will be to first pick the captain who they believe can lead the country to success. The names on the table when the selectors sit to pick the captain are Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga, Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne. All have been in the captaincy saddle and have proved their credentials.

As for this column, first on our radar to sport the captaincy cap is Angelo Mathews. Mathews has the best credentials and has proved his capabilities in all versions of the game and is the most experienced as a captain of the foursome. He is a shrewd cricketer, experienced and leads by example in his ability to use the bat and bash any opposing attack with his power packed stroke play. He is liked by the team and that is very important. However he has been injury prone but bounces back when the odds are high.

In recent times Mathews and the coach Chandika Hathurisinghe have always agreed to disagree. While differences in opinions often bring about the best outcomes it is now time that the two mend fences in the larger interests.

Time’s up!

Mathews has always been consistent with the bat and when in the middle, been an asset to his batting partner as a mentor and as an example. He has an impressive track record and should therefore have the confidence to lead in what will surely be a tense-packed series. His main handicap is that he is injury prone. But then while this is a factor it’s not one to discount him as a leading choice.

Next in the gallop for the captaincy is the bowler with the square armed action, the coloured curly haired Lasith Malinga. To his credit he has been a sensational bowler and came forward as captain of the team that won the 2011 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.

The selectors had him in their frame in naming him to lead the team in Australia for one-dayers and then in the five match one day series against South Africa in Proteland. But this did not do his chances any good being whitewashed by Adam Finch’s Aussies and Faf Du Plessis South Africans. In addition being a bowling captain and bowling being his forte, it must be stated that bowlers capable of winning matches have not proved good captains. That is because they can be accused of not striking when the iron is hot by taking the leather at the right time, or over bowling. He could well be the exception.

As a complete outsider who has it in him to successfully sport the captaincy cap is the ever smiling and charismatic Dimuth Karunaratne. Karunaratne has shown that he has the all-important luck that is necessary to succeed. He is generally a Test style batsman, but can change his game and become aggressive when the need arises. I would reiterate what former Australian great captain Richie Benaud once told me: that captaincy is 90 per cent luck and 10 percent skill. Karunaratne is blessed with this attribute as he showed when leading the country to the epic two Test victories against South Africa in SA.

Karunaratne’s sudden brain fade where he crashed into an auto rickshaw (tuk tuk) while recklessly driving his vehicle under the influence of liquor could have gone to lessen his chances of leading the country in the World Cup. Not being a one-day basher, he staked strong claims to lead. But his unfortunate behaviour may be a major factor as SLC is bound to share that discipline comes first and no one is indispensable. SLC did just that and imposed a heavy fine of $7,500 what a cricketer earns for playing in a Test match. SLC must be applauded for setting an example by going hard at Karunaratne. We hope the selectors will not hold this incident against him when his name comes into the captaincy radar.

He has been humble enough to own up to his erratic behavior. No one is perfect! His cherubic smile that radiates on his fellow players, that makes them feel relaxed and exude confidence so very necessary for success.

The other man who will throw in his hat for the captaincy is DINESH CHANDIMAL. He is a right hand batsman with tremendous potential. He has all the strokes in the book, is very graceful and can change to top gear and motor on the one-day highway as he showed in making a half century against Australia in the previous World Cup. Chandimal is blessed with unlimited potential. But unfortunately for him and Sri Lanka cricket, he tends to falter, probably losing concentration and gifting his wicket when a big score is on the cards for him. In addition to a form dip at crucial times, he too is also injury prone. This was proved when leading the team in the T20 tournament in Bangladesh, he had to make way for Lasith Malinga to lead and pilot Sri Lanka to victory in the final against India. Chandimal is a must in the squad to England. It is hoped that those who matter will work on his shortcomings and have him on the plane with the rest of the squad.

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