There’s two ways of looking at the freshly concluded Test series between Sri Lanka and South Africa. Either toast the historic first Test victory in South African soil or rip the two defeats either side of the bright sunshine in Durban. While having no intention of papering over cracks, the unassuming surprise in the 2nd Test must go down as a special moment in the annals of a relatively short history of the cricket in island compared to other Test countries. There were no expectations to leave Proteas downcast at any point in this series and for that sincere fact alone, the first leg of the expedition can be coined as a success.
Without being shabby, it isn’t fallacy to ascertain that the joy brought more lessons than the emptiness of the defeats. The bowlers again conclusively demonstrated that it was the failings of their more illustrious partners in the order which resulted in this barren run after the Galle Test against India. When they have the cushion of a gentle smile from the scoreboard, there’s no need of Lasith Malinga and that they can stand on their own. Paradoxically, it was Malinga’s retirement from Test cricket –whatever morally wrong that decision was and how many hours the managers of his were singing to his ears– that acquiesced a prolonged spell for Welegedara’s and Herath’s without the shuffling that a predictable injury to the slinger could cause. And Welegedara and Herath has paid back for that confidence.
Probably even more than the country itself, the man who was elated the most after that momentous Durban evening has to be Thilan Samaraweera. And he made sure he didn’t lock it inside the Durban hotel by piecing another century in Cape Town –an unprecedented feat for a select handful group in South Africa. There’s no need to dwell upon the dull ways of the band of current selectors as everybody is well informed of it by now. It was ironic that Samaraweera went searching to the past to conjure this effort for these compilations had all the dogged characteristics which made him such a tough defence to dislodge. Those forays in his early years, where he tested bowlers’ patience to the hilt by grinding them closer to suicide, come to mind.
The first thing Sri Lanka did at Cape Town meant they were trying to ship the advantage away. It was an outrageous decision to bowl first just to cover any deficiency they had in their minds when considering the high note they had sung three days ago. There was no need to be cautious knowing too well there was no pressure on their shoulders and all the missiles were firmly aimed at the opposition in case failure.
Maybe it’s time for Tillakaratne Dilshan to say good bye to the role nobody wanted after the World Cup to save his flagging career. And it’s deserving that if he decides to leave, there’s a tick in the win column which he can reflect proudly about. It’s a foregone conclusion now that if not for the canopy of captaincy he wouldn’t be in the team. His scarcity for runs is alarming and if it can be solved via the removal of the skipper hat then so be it.
The limited-overs leg got off to the most traumatic and hair-raising start it ever could have and although there’s leniency to be had in the longer version, there shouldn’t be any sympathy for the continuous struggles in 50-over cricket. This is the team which has the tag of World Cup runner-up –how much that measures up to is debatable examining the feverish submitting Indians are doing currently– and they have belied that reputation quicker than Andy Murray has disappointed British people.
Three winnable series have been gifted on a platter and this highway ride needs to be obstructed. Quick.
The Island Link- Hurricanes Either side of Bright Sunshine in South Africa