Lankans still to win a series in Calypso land | Sunday Observer

Lankans still to win a series in Calypso land

11 April, 2021

When the Sri Lanka cricketers came out unscathed in the first Test against the West Indies and had them on the ropes and having them fighting to save the game, one expected the Lankans to ride on that advantage and win the second Test. But that was not to be.

The Lankans have never before achieved a series victory over the Calypso Boys in their land and here was the opportunity that they had been waiting for and could make winning a series a reality.

But what was inexplicable and unacceptable was that captain Dimuth Karunaratne won the all important toss and instead of taking first strike asked the Windies to bat on a wicket that was favourable for big run making with the wicket not having any moisture or grass on it.

When Karunaratne asked the Windies to have a first hit, it was apparent and obvious that the Lankans were in a negative frame of mind, not looking for victory, but wanting to go for a draw, not wanting to suffer the fate that they suffered in the T20 and 50-over series.

Had the Lankans batted and put up a formidable first innings score and they had the batsmen who could deliver, they could have certainly had the Windies under pressure. The Windies would then have had to bat last on a crumbling turf and could surrender.

Maybe what prompted Karunaratne to not bat first was that he was not having a bowling attack that was up to Test standard that could rip through the opponents’ batting in both innings. Only paceman Suranga Lakmal looked a Test class bowler and whom the Windies batsmen feared.

Anyway we won’t whip captain Karunaratne for winning the toss and asking the Windies to bat. It would have been a majority decision and so Sri Lanka lost the chance of batting first putting up a big score and having the Windies under pressure.

Now that the Windies tour has been done and dusted with the Lankans losing both versions of limited over games and drawing the two Test series, the question to ask is what is the big deal in continuing to play two Tests? Playing three Tests would have been more meaningful. The next Sri Lankan opponents will be Bangladesh.

However we say well done to Lahiru Thirimanne, Oshada Fernando, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva and newcomer Pathum Nissanka Silva for being among the runs. Thirimanne had been in the cricketing woods for long and when recalled grabbed the opportunity with both hands and excelled as a permanent opening batsman.

It was a memorable tour for young Nissanka who made a debut hundred facing the pace bolts of Roach, Gabriel, Joseph and Holder. It is hoped that he will continue to make runs consistently so that he could be bracketed with batting greats.

Of the bowlers the only one who always looked threatening and who troubled the Windies batsmen and was among the wickets was paceman Suranga Lakmal who always bowled his heart out bowling long spells.

Administration suffers ignominy

Never before after the Britishers introduced the wonderful game of cricket to the country has its administration and the game suffered such ignominy as it is facing now.

With a club seeking legal action to the effect that Sri Lanka Cricket ended its stay on May 20 and succeeding and asking for an Interim Committee to be appointed to run the affairs of SLC and with the AG agreeing the Sports Minister appointed a high-profile five-member SLC Management Committee to carry out the day to day affairs of SLC until the AGM is held next month.

The five-member management committee will be presided over by Prof. Arjuna de Silva with SLC Chief Executive Ashley de Silva appointed as secretary of the Committee with Sujeewa Mudalige, Chartered Accountant from Picewaterhouse Coopers appointed treasurer.

Uchitra Wickremasinghe will serve the Committee as a member while Amal Edirisooriya, Director General Department of Sports Development will be an observer.

And the man who has to face all these vicious bouncers is Minister of Youth Affairs and Sport, the efficient Namal Rajapaksa who captained the school on the Mount by the Sea, STC Mt. Lavinia and played for Navy and captained the national rugby team.

Never since the first Minister of Sports VA Sugathadasa and later KB Ratnayake had the country a Minister of Sport who has played a game. Rajapaksa joins that exalted company of Sugathadasa and Ratnayake. When Sugathadasa and Ratnayake steered sport in the country, cricket was played for the love of it with the country gaining Test status nearly 50 years later that has led to war in cricket in the country.

The writer who has played cricket at the highest level and written about it for well over 50 years never witnessed politics in sport as it is now the fad. This malady struck cricket as the dreaded covid-19 disease is now doing.

Today holding office in SLC has become an obsession. That is after respected men with vision and the game at heart – Gamini Dissanayake, Rajamahendren, Wimalasena and Fuard prepared a pitch, batted on it successfully and hit the bouncers of the Lords at Lord’s who always bowled Wides and no-balls saying Sri Lanka is not fit for Test cricket and the cricketers justified their inclusion in the elite league when the country won the World Cup in 1996 in Lahore, Pakistan.

With the winning of the World Cup dollars began flowing into the game and the administration like the Mahaweli river in spate and with it began the war with every Dick, Tom and Harry wanting to run the administration because the icing was on the money cake and everyone was dog-fighting to hold office.

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