Coach Mahela IPL’s Star now SLC’s loss | Sunday Observer

Coach Mahela IPL’s Star now SLC’s loss

22 November, 2020

Former Sri Lanka master batsman, wonderful team man and captain par excellence MAHELA JAYAWARDENA must be having that over-the-moon feeling after coaching the Mumbai Indians to win yet another Indian Premier League title.

From the many coaches on display at the lucrative IPL, JAYAWARDENA proved himself the best and it is great credit not only to the Mumbai Indians, but above all to the country of his birth Sri Lanka.

It must be recalled he first joined the Sri Lanka team as a replacement in South Africa under the team led by Arjuna Ranatunga. Although not playing in any of the big games, he got the feel of what it is to be in the big league and the intensity of what Test cricket is all about.

I was there covering that tour for the ANCL newspapers and seeing him doing his thing with great dedication and determination, Sri Lanka’s coach Australian Bruce Yardley predicted that the youngster had unlimited potential and predicted to me that he would be one of the best in world cricket. And JAYAWARDENA lived up to that prediction. Pity that Yardley is not around to enjoy his predication.

From the time JAYAWARDENA proudly and lovingly sported his Sri Lanka cap till he kissed it after playing his last Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club Media Conference, he sported it with great respect and dedication. Many were the great and many were the eye catching and record breaking knocks he made, doffing his cap to the resounding cheers he received here and abroad.

Of all the innings he played, one that he will not forget and treasure most is the 374 he made against the mighty South Africans in a Test match at the SSC. It was a marathon knock and it was tiredness that saw him finally bowled. Had he broken West Indian Brian Lara’s record of 375 it would have sent the Lankan cricket world into raptures.

Having said that it is a pity that he cannot be coaxed into being the head coach of the Sri Lanka team. In getting a team that made up the Mumbai Indians coming from many countries to play as a team, which is no easy task he showed the rare coaching blood in him that not many coaches are endowed with.

After his success with the Mumbai Indians when asked whether he would like to be the Sri Lanka coach he was quick to say “no” citing that he is not at all happy with the local set up. Pity that a coach of his caliber who can do wonders for the game here is lost to the game.

Lanka Premier League

The dark clouds that were threatening to come down in buckets and wash away the Lanka Premier League cricket tournament has thankfully blown over and now the tourney will see the first ball bowled on November 26 when Colombo face Kandy under lights at 7.30 pm in the opener. The final if all goes well will be played on December 16.

Earlier some of the matches were to be played in Pallekele, but with the risk of the covid-19 still prevailing, the organizers have decided to conduct the entire tournament at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota.

There were many postponements and finally the dust has settled thanks to the Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi and her officials who flashed the green light for the tournament to be played.

But the final say rested on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who after consultation with the health ministry officials and other important people concerned gave his approval. For this wonderful gesture the cricketers, Sri Lanka Cricket, the cricket loving public and the entire nation will say a big thank you.

Now it is in the hands of the governing body Sri Lanka Cricket to play their best stroke and show the cricket world that what others can do they can do better. As usual they will have their share of critics. Who doesn’t? The critics should be treated with disdain and put into cricket’s rubbish bin.

What is sad is that the maiden tournament will be played sans the all important crowd participation. But it cannot be helped with the authorities not wanting to take any chances with the prevailing covid-19 playing spoil sport still.

But cricket crazy fans who will be absent from the venue because of the prevailing dreaded covid-19, can soak in the action from home watching the action unfolding on telly.

It was originally announced that the big hitting West Indian Andre Russell who entertained local fans with his mauling of the Lankan bowlers at Pallekele would miss the LPL owing to an injury sustained in the recently concluded IPL in the UAE.

But now comes the good news that he has fully recovered and would join the rest of the contingent that will play in the much looked forward and long awaited Lankan Premier League.

There is the possibility of the long awaited drought ending and evening shower pouring down. One hopes that the sporting rain gods will look benignly on the tournament and the games will go the full distance.

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