Love hate relationship | Sunday Observer

Love hate relationship

20 September, 2020

The Aussies have always captured the attention of Sri Lankan cricket fans. We have had a love-hate relationship as well. Australia is always a hard side to beat in whatever form of cricket they play in.

Be it T20, limited over or Test cricket. They may lose a game or two, yet they have the willpower and the determination to come from behind and win the most important game.

They proved this once again when after losing the first two games in the T20 series to England, they came back strongly to win the final game and with it regain the top spot in the T20 rankings, putting to second England.

At one time chasing a modest 146 for victory and being 70 for one it looked as they would cruise to victory. But then a sudden collapse saw them tottering at 87 for 4 and looking on the skids of defeat.

It was then that Mitchell Marsh the hard hitting right hand batsman and son of former Aussie opener Geoff Marsh with 39 not out which was a most valuable knock took Australia past the line with support from Ashton Agar16 not out that saw the Aussies to a nail-biting victory with three balls to spare. England made 145 in 20 and Australia made 146 for 5 in 19.3 overs.

This Aussie victory is all the more creditable considering that they had dropped their mauler of bowlers left handed David Warner. It was too much of a risk to take because Warner has the ability to win a game off his own bat. It is said that those who dare win and the Aussie selectors in believing in this saying and daring won the all important game without Warner.

“Six months is a long time without cricket so it’s great to get the oportunity today. It’s nice to finish off the series and nice to contribute,” Marsh who was Player of the Match told Sky Sports.

In the first two games of this one-day series, the Australian batsmen were on top of the England attack and seemed to be motoring to victory. But the England bowlers posted road blocks at important junctures and the Aussie batsmen were stranded and had to reluctantly concede victory.

But when it came to the final and most important game there was no stopping the rampaging Aussies.Congratulations to the Aussies for regaining the top spot in T20 ranking from England.

Opatha passes away

It is with great grief that this column records the passing away of former Sri Lanka cricketing allrounder Anthony Tony Opatha after a sudden alleged heart attack last week.

The passing away of Opatha came as a shock to his many cricketing colleagues and friends who knew him and kept his interesting company.

Opatha although he gave up the game after the controversial rebel tour of South Africa, kept himself fit and healthy coaching many schools including his old school St.Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya.

After excelling at SPC he played for SSC, CCC and also Saracens in top division cricket and was a strong allrounder and took a lot of wickets with his devastating medium pace swing bowling and big hitting as a right hand batsman. He played in the first two World Cups in England in 1975 and 1979.

He had a mind of his own and a courage of his convictions and a rebel in his own right, even if his convictions were against the grain. He is best remembered when he shook the local cricket world by organizing and taking a rebel team of cricketers to South Africa.

South Africa was removed from all international sport because of its inhuman apartheid policies and being starved of cricket they lured cricketers to tour with an attractive deal.

The temptation was far too great to say no when Opatha was approached by the South African agents and he fell prey and promising some o fthe outstanding cricketers big money, he secretly winged a team to South Africa.

Sri Lanka had only just attained Test status and this rebel tour shook the local cricket board and put its cricket a near 25 years back and the local cricket board headed by former Minister Gamini Dissanayake had no option but to slap a ban of 25 years on those who toured.

But Opatha did not regret because he had the courage to stand by his conviction and the heaps of criticism he and the rebel cricketers received did not deter them.

Sri Lanka lost four promising cricketers who went on that tour, Mahesh Gunetilleke, Anura Ranasinghe, Bernard Perera and Ajit de Silva.

Regardless of all this Opatha was well regarded in social and cricketing circles. He will be missed.

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