Ups and Downs and down the hill? | Sunday Observer

Ups and Downs and down the hill?

5 June, 2021

Today is Heads. Tomorrow its Tails. And the dance goes on. The Sri Lankan cricketers gave the new selection committee headed by Pramodya Wickremasinghe a warm welcome when the the final Test against Bangladesh was won with a series 1-nil at Pallekele.

But the cricketers led by Kusal Janith Perera did not provide the same welcome to Sri Lanka Cricket whose office bearers led by Shammi Silva who were returned uncontested by getting thrashed by Bangladesh in Bangladesh 2-1-nil in the three match one-day series which to say the least was a disgrace.

Winning one game in a three match series is no big deal. True they salvaged some lost pride by winning the final game, but that is not something that cricketers could be proud of.

The new selectors gambled when they flew out a young side with a new captain in Kusal Perera, dropping some of the seniors in Dimuth Karunaratne who led the limited over teams earlier, Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal hoping that they would turn a new leaf and deliver.

But what one saw was an aimless approach by the cricketers who lacked the intensity that is essential--- and a must-- in this different style of white ball game. They were playing anything but cricket required in this style of game.

Being world champions in this style of the game at one time, it shamed the players, the game, the administrators and everything that the game stands for by ending down in the one-day points table. Never has Sri Lanka cricket being shamed like this before.

The entire blame for this must be pasted on the cricketers. The coaching staff has shown them how. But out in the middle they play aimless cricket best described as lacking in fundamentals, which is inexplicable.

The coaching staff must be wracking their brains and wondering how to get the players to turn the game around and get back to wining ways. Winning is the bottom line in this game and in continuing to be on the losing runway, it also lowers the esteem of the coaching staff who are all experts in their chosen fields.

Some one-eyed jacks put the blame on the administrators. It must be understood that the cricketers and administrators play different ball games. True everything is not right in the administration with allegations rampant but nothing proved. But the cricketers can’t make that an excuse for consistently losing.

The administrators have provided everything, money especially and much more and spoilt the cricketers. Critics are confident that the money they carry with them weighs heavily and so their slow movements on the field, the disinterest and the lack of thirst and urgency to win.

At this level of cricket, it is the cricketers who should shoulder the responsibility . Once they take the field everything depends on them. They must bat, bowl and field with purpose with the bottom line being victory.

If they can’t do these fundamentals right then they are not worthy of playing for the country and earn their keep. Some of the players play a false stroke, drop a catch or bowl badly and instead of regretting, sport a smile as though they have performed a good deed.

To start with we must say that opening batsman Kusal Perera is no captain. He is unable to read the game and switch his bowlers and place his fields with intelligence. True he bashed a century in the final game that was scintillating and which brought back the ‘black superman’ Sanath Jayasuriya’s memories when he was at his brilliant best. But winning a series is what matters. Heroics after the series is lost is only for the record books.

It is time that the selectors looked for a new captain thereby taking the responsibility off Perera’s shoulders thus giving him the freedom to cut loose on the opposing bowlers from the start because big runs are required in the first 15 overs. In the first game he played second fiddle to Dhanushka Gunathilaka when he was expected to be the dominant partner. Getting bowled attempting to cut a straight ball in the first game showed poor judgment.

Leftie Isuru Udana who was expected to play an all rounder’s role was sadly off the mark. His form was so poor that prompted the selectors to drop him in the final game.

One bowler who has improved having done some hard work at the nets is fast bowler Dhusmantha Chameera. With a lovely run and an even lovelier delivery action, he was a thorn in the flesh of the Bangladeshi batting as he showed in all three games, especially in the final game where he broke the backbone of he opponents’ batting, by getting two early wickets, especially the one of Bangladeshi star all rounder Shakib al Hassan. Chameera should be a permanent fixture in all forms of the game for Sri Lanka.

As for Bangladesh they seem to have improved their game in all formats. Each player in the team knows what his job is and always attempts to deliver for the benefit and success of the team. They seem to be playing as a team which is an example to other teams. If they continue in this form they should be a threat to the teams who are on top of the points table in all forms. No team could afford to take them easy.

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