World Cup: A psychological test among the best | Sunday Observer

World Cup: A psychological test among the best

Sri Lanka Cricket has played their innings by providing the cricketers taking wing to England with everything that’s best and much more.

With many of the practice sessions cancelled owing to security reasons, and having to practice with a heavy security blanket thrown in, it is possible that the minds of the cricketers would not be at ease. One needs not only to be psychically fit, but it is paramount that they be mentally fit too.

In addition to leaving the country in tension, with the country’s expectations high and with tension likely to mount when umpires call ‘play’ at the high tension World Cup, a psychologist would be a good buy.

Many teams have benefitted by having a psychologist with them and it could do our cricketers a world of good if Sri Lanka Cricket that has done so much since taking office gives serious thought to having a psychologist with the team. Many world class teams, even the best of the best, do have a psychologist on duty. While Managers and coaches and Captains may claim to have this skill, this is no easy task. Scientific study of the human mind and its functions especially when being an underdog cannot be underestimated. An added dimension for the Sri Lanka team is the trauma that the cricketers had to suffer owing to the recent bomb blasts in the country. Needless to state that the cricketers should take this as a challenge to show that acts of terror only strengthen their resolve to show Sri Lanka’s best colours. This is what we did when we won the Won Cup during the time of the Civil War.

In addition to the 15-member squad and officials and support staff, SLC has agreed to foot the bill for four extra standby players. So it should be no big deal for SLC to take a psychologist from here or hire one in England. We should not regret later.

The International Cricket Council who is organizing the World Cup will put out a water tight security cover which is sure to upset the players who will not be allowed free movement and will be under guard even in their hotel rooms. So it will be seen that a psychologist is a necessity.

Not only the buses taking the cricketers will be provided tight security, but also the buses, the underground trains and train stations will be under tightly guarded. The ICC will not be taking any chances.

Because of the bags full of money to be won by the winning team, players, officials with Cricket Boards too to benefit, the International Cricket Council’s four-yearly conducted World Cup and the T20 World Cup has attracted teams like moths to a flame.

At present it is sad to note that not many countries lay that much importance on Test cricket which is what the game was all about but concentrate on the ‘cowboy games’. As for us these games are comedies, something akin to the comedies played out by Laurel and Hardy.

It is pertinent to recall what the former and famous Australian leg spinning/googly bowling great Bill O’Reiley told me on a tour to Australia in 1987/88.

O‘Reiley was covering the Lankan tour for the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ and seated next to him at the press box, I casually asked him for his views on limited over cricket that was fast catching on like a plague. ‘I’d rather turn my back and watch the wall than watch this cricket comedy’ was his candid answer. That was O’Reiley for you.

Having heard and read so much of O’Reiley’s exploits in the 1940s with his magical leg spin/googly bowling that gave him a harvest of wickets and also mesmerizing opposing batsmen and winning games for Australia, it was one of the most memorable and unforgettable moments meeting and talking cricket with the great man in my cricket covering career.

Cricket Boards of all countries eligible to playing in the World Cup spend a lot of money training their players, getting foreign coaches in all aspects of the game, trainers, physios in order to carry away the prestigious World Cup.

No to win will see all contracted foreigners being sent away and new recruits being made for the next World Cup. When countries fail to win, all including the coaching staff all get the sacking.

This is inexplicable considering that it is not the support staff that play, it is the players who should be taken to task for not giving of their best and winning the Cup. Coaches in all aspects of the game do their best and to lynch them is not cricket.

Oman thanks Duleep Mendis

Oman one of the oil rich nations who have taken to the game of cricket in a big way enjoyed their best moment when they gained ICC one-day status recently.

For this they say a big ‘thank you’ to former Si Lanka captain and dashing right hander Duleep Mendis a mauler of opposing bowling attacks in the 1970s and 1980s.

When Oman signed the dusky Mendis they were convinced that they had like oil, struck it rich. And popularly known as ‘Dulla’ he repaid the faith placed in him by polishing the talent available and taking their cricket to the top. All Omanis are over the moon.

As a schoolboy, Mendis learnt his basics at St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa where his talent surfaced coached by that famous coach at St Sebastian’s, Bro Patrick who churned out many other outstanding cricketers during his tenure at the College.

Mendis showed rare champion talent at the Moratuwa school scoring a lot of runs, before moving on to the school by the sea S.Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia where his talent began to blossom and national honours beckoned.

Scoring consistently for his club the Sinhalese Sports Club national colours was not long in coming and he had the fortune of leading the country, the dream of any cricketer.

Mendis had his best moments in Test cricket when he scored twin hundreds against India in India and then had the misfortune of not repeating this feat against England at lord’s Cricket Ground.

His most feared moment was when he was struck on the head by a vicious delivery from the Australian pace express Jeff Thomson in a World Cup game at the Lord’s Cricket Ground and had to be taken to hospital unconscious. He recovered to tell the tale.

The writer had the good fortune of playing for the Board President’s X1 which team also included Mendis. The team was led by the famous Michael Tissera in 1972.

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