Gutless Lankan batting: Psychologist brought in! | Sunday Observer

Gutless Lankan batting: Psychologist brought in!

24 January, 2021

What else can gutless batting do than gut the very spirit that any team should have? Sri Lanka had neither guts nor spirit. Rather, playing the better cricket and adjusting themselves better to the uneven spin and bounce in the wicket, England pocketed an admirable seven wicket win against Sri Lanka in the first of two Tests at the Galle International Cricket Stadium. It was all over long before lunch on the final day.

Sri Lanka have only themselves to blame for this defeat. So the scoreboard is depressing to read. It went on to add shame to their recent performances where for them losing has been more the rule than the exception.

Dinesh Chandimal, substituting for regular skipper Dimuth Karunaratne who had to pull out of the Test at the last minute with a fractured thumb, won the all important toss that showed that luck was on Sri Lanka’s side and took first hit. Generally when a side bat’s first they aim for a first innings score of 400, not looking to bat a second time by putting pressure on the side batting second and pressing for victory.

But this did not seem to be the idea of the Sri Lankan batsmen. They tumbled meekly to the high class spin of off spinner Dom Bess (5 wickets) and left armer Jack Leach (3 wickets) and when they were bundled out for a poor 135 the Test was good as over for the Lankans. And that is how it ended.

The Lankan batsmen batted like novices. None of them showed any intent of sticking at the wicket, scoring runs, putting up a decent score and staying alive in the game. They showed poor technique, the inability to get in line when playing strokes and the patience that is required at this level. It was a sad indictment on their game.

True they made a strong reply in the second innings making 359 which was made possible by a 101 opening stand between Kusal Janith Perera 62 and Lahiru Thirimanna 111 and Angelo Mathews 71 that helped them stave off an ignominious innings defeat.

They made England chase a mere 74 runs for victory and although jolting the Brits by taking three wickets for 14, Bairstow 37 and new kid Lawrence 21 saw them over the line without further hiccups which should raise their confidence for the second Test which is now on.

In the England first innings after losing their openers Crawley and Sibley cheaply, skipper Joe Root played a marathon innings in making 228 and giving the Lankan batsmen a lesson on how to bat at this level on a wicket that was turning tricky.

With his experience Root stood rooted to the wicket and showcased the right technique, temperament, good footwork and an array of cultured strokes before being the last man out. His double hundred had class written on it.

But what happened to him in the second innings when he was run out for just one, showed poor judgement and poor understanding running between the wickets. Bairstow called him for a single that was absolutely unnecessary and Root found himself short by a throw from wicket keeper ‘aiyo’ Dickwella and his run out was cruel.

Being run out is the worst form of gifting the wicket by a batsman. When starting our cricketing career at school our coaches Edward Kelaart and Bertie Wijesinha would hit it into us that if we were to be run out, to run home and never be seen again. Run out was anathema to these two celebrated coaches.

Psychologist at last

Finally Sri Lanka Cricket has decided to have a psychologist to work with the Sri Lankan cricketers. With too much pressure on the cricketers to win at all cost, this is a good move that has been made by Professor Arjuna de Silva of the medical panel of Sri Lanka Cricket.

Professor De Silva who is an expert on sports psychology in addition to his other expert qualifications was instrumental in bringing in psychologist Dr. Chamara Wijesinghe. Professor De Silva must be congratulated for making this invaluable move.

Dr Wijesinghe addressed the Lankan cricketers before the Test series against England in an attempt to get them to perform to their peak in this time of stress because of the Covid virus and to be free to perform in tense situations during the Tests. It is said that you can take a horse to the water, but you cannot make it drink. So it seems to be the case with the Lankan cricketers because Dr. Wijesinghe’s efforts have proved futile. May the cricketers be psychologically prepared for Test number two.

The writer has always written many times urging Sri Lanka Cricket to have a psychologist with the cricketers because a psychologist would be able to inspire the cricketers to be free from tension and worry and perform to the best of their ability. That Professor De Silva has finally made SLC to see reason and have a psychologist with the cricketers is admirable.

Since cricket became commercialized with money pouring into the game, the game has become a blood sport with winning in whatever way possible by stretching the rules to the limit being the fashion now.

The urge to win at all costs was underlined by the Australian cricketers who made sledging a fine art to unsettle their opponents and win. The Aussies called sledging – mental disintegration. Dr Wijesinghe is sure going to help the cricketers to be free of worry and perform better.

With the two Test series in South Africa being a calamity, it is hoped that the cricketers will follow the advice and instructions from Dr. Wijesinghe and although losing the first Test to England will perform to the best of their ability and do Sri Lanka cricket that is at the moment on the skids proud and bring it to its former glory days like when we won the World Cup in 1996.

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