Disaster in the Caribbean | Sunday Observer

Disaster in the Caribbean

28 March, 2021

DISASTROUS – It seems that the obituary for Sri Lanka cricket has been written, the grieving mourning is at its peak; and and the results of several postmortems are being awaited. The tragedy came to the fore with a disastrous showing in the Caribbean after the T20 and 50-over series recently against the West Indies: the land of Cricket Loverely Cricket where the Lankans reduced the calypso to a completely flat sad song.

Sri Lanka is at the bottom of the T20 rankings that never happened before. Lankan administrators and cricket crazy fans are behind the sight screen hiding their faces in shame. What is bitter is that Afghanistan is above us.

Many questions are being asked. Are we getting value from the coaches paying them fabulous salaries to steer cricket to such a low ebb? Cricketers and cricket fans are quite rightly seeking explanations.

Sri Lanka cricket never suffered such ignominy. The answer to that blame game question is that the coaching staff are not to blame, but the cricketers who take the field are squarely accountable.

The Lankan cricketers when they took wing to the Calypso Country did so with great expectations. Although the Covid 19 was always a threat, they were well prepared and it was a strong squad that left the shores with promise and high expectations of winging back with their heads held high.

But those expectations were only of what dreams are made of. A nightmare was presented instead! True the West Indies had enjoyed a good tour of Bangladesh. But that was not a pointer that they were going to trample the Lankan cricketers with their cricketing boots as they finally did.

When the 20 and 50-over series began one expected the Lankans to be the better team to play the better cricket and win both series.

The players did not seem to take the games seriously. They were out of depth not knowing how to play to win nor how to get out of adversity that cricket always presents as a challenge. Most of them were like little boys lost and wandering in aimlessly to the turf and just going through the motions.

A few exceptions though! Those who played with purpose and whose names should be mentioned are Dhanuska Gunathilaka, Ashen Bandara and Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva. Hasaranga proved a more than useful all rounder.

He is a clean hitter of the ball with superb timing and tremendous power in his strokes. Every time he batted he looked like a West Indian blaster and never seemed to be overawed by the occasion. Had the other important members in the team followed his fearless approach, the results could have been different. He was the only one who could match up to the sixes hitting Windies.

As a bowler he seems to have mastered the most difficult art of spin bowling – the leg spin and googly bowling and most of the Windies batsmen were uncomfortable facing him not knowing which way the ball would turn.

Opener Dhanushka Gunathilaka is a sound opening batsman and ideal for the shorter format of the game. He is a strong leg side player and if he could curb his urge to hit every ball should turn out to be another Sanath Jaysuriya. Good if he could have a chat with Jayasuriya.

Ashen Bandara is a promising batsman. But he seems to love playing the sweep shot consistently. He must be told that when playing the sweep the full face of the bat is not presented to the ball and the chances of him skying it is greater and could sacrifice his wicket.

The greatest disappointment was Thisara Perera. He started his career like a house on fire playing many match winning and memorable innings with some beefy hitting. But now he seems to have lost that prowess and what was unforgivable was his being run-out twice in the last two 50 over games.

Perera was expected to add muscle to the middle order using the long handle as the former saying goes. But he cut a sorry figure with his poor running. With so many coaches in the team it would be good to toss in a running-between-the-wicket coach too.

Obviously being run-out shows slowness and ageing and the selectors would not be faulted if they reconsider his place in the team. As for the writer, in being run-out in the final game, he ran his last run. His form in recent times rules him out of further consideration.

In lighter vein the selectors will do well to recall former dashing opener Tillekeratne Dilshan into the squad. He was going great guns as an all-rounder in the Road Safety Word Cricket Series T20 tournament in Raipur, India. So was former master blaster Sanath Jayasuriya, medium pacer Nuwan Kulasekera and left arm spinner Rangana Herath.

The Sri Lankan Legends gave a fielding lesson to some of our players now having a disastrous tour of the Caribbean. The Legends moved like beavers on the field saving boundaries and taking some brilliant catches which can be attributed to their superb physical fitness. Pity that the Legends lost the final to India.

The often asked question in cricket circles is why did not Sri Lanka Cricket invite Dilshan to be the fielding coach? He was a brilliant fielder during his time, saving many runs and taking some breath-taking catches with his agility.

The postmortem goes on as it should and the judges who hear the case may have to impose RI--Rigorous Imprisonment on some of the habitual un-reliables and Hard Labour on those who are not fit to take up the task.

It may be too early to say RIP --until corrective action is taken.

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