Spinning Into Contention Down under


There’s a run-of-the-mill misconception that breeze in when Australian administrators deem it feasible to summon the islanders to slot in for the summer triangular. Sri Lankans have had hang outs in Australia so much that one may not find excruciating to obtain the nationality there or be a guide to a tourist but the general consensus hasn’t polished yet. New captain Mahela Jayawardena put it in a nutshell.

“Grounds in Australia tend to favour the fast bowlers.”

Therein lays the conundrum. Track back and most of the nights the champagne bottles were opened from a Sri Lankan hand centered around a tale of a spinner. And selectors continue to stay in the dark over attention to detail. Craig McDermott’s full bullish line of attack insinuated the psyche of Indians as the series culminated and that’s not an ideal pitcher to pour water in as it has a hole underneath. No way are pace friendly only surfaces be the sight of existence and tweakers will play a telling part fluctuating a team’s fortunes. Not only the restaurants in Sydney and Adelaide or Melbourne is favourable for Asians as pitches will offer turn, bounce and free flowing stroke play. Brisbane, Hobart and Perth is a whole new ball game altogether and even then bounce is a critical outcome to factor in.

Sri Lanka has packed its contingent with four fast bowlers and three pace all rounders while reserving just two spots for the undermined craft in Rangana Herath and Sachithra Senanayake. There are coliseums where you are bound to play two spinners and if one of them is out of form, it’ll come back to haunt them. It was only twelve months ago that Suraj Randiv’s-who would have been the ideal back for up front partnership of Herath and Senanayake- guide and disconcerting bounce got the better of Australians and the way he has been treated is-if not a raw deal-unfair.

If Randiv’s condition is that Angelo Mathews tracks down himself in a similar brittle town, the disparity being within the team. His form lately has not added up to the sum of its parts, since the World Cup it’s been all downhill to him whether it was the decisions he took in the middle in the heat of the battle or runs and wickets columns. Mahela was quick to defend his lackey. “It’s not right if one says in three months we should drop the brightest prospect we had six months ago. A player doesn’t become bad overnight.”

Conversely to that he batted like a rabbit caught in headlines right? “We used him for different strategies in different games. With the new power play rule, we decided to use a bowler in that period. Because of that the amount of overs he had to play reduced even more. The best example is Dilshan himself, he played at No6 for so many years and look where he is now. So it’s not ideal to quickly judge players who play in these tricky positions down the order. Angelo is one of the key members of our squad and we should encourage him to get back without looking down on him.”

Among the changes are the Farveez Maharoof’s third coming at the expense of Kosala Kulasekara who’s highlights so far in a skeletal international career has to be crossing the dreaded mark of the lowest score in Paarl and be the cynical victim of Dilshan’s blunder to deliver that fateful over – “Kosala played a test match in Dubai. Then when the test matches were underway in South Africa there was consideration to bring back Maharoof for the onedayers. But Dilshan and the selectors had a chat and decided that he didn’t get enough opportunities to prove himself. So he came to South Africa as part of the ODI squad and played the first three ODIs.”
So is that it? Maharoof topped the charts in batting in the domestic matches played at home as an opener; and there’s more window for Mahela to open before former Sri Lanka under 19 leaders does as things currently stand.

Do the captain immune to that?” I agree. But Maharoof is a cricketer we have invested in first for the 2007 World Cup. He was an under 19 captain and was considered as our premier all rounder at that time. I won’t say whether Maharoof will play or not but about this is a decision we took it sorely to strengthen the team knowing the tough challenge we are to face in Australia.” May be its a way of poking Mathews into alert mode from his comfortable perch. Whatever way it works.

The brickbats were hurled at Dilshan during the fag end of his reign for the lack of runs he accumulated. If that was a boomerang in the path of team’s progression, the latest developments isn’t an improvement either. In fact, it’s amplification. Forget about the vice captain, the new captain is a queasy patient in dire need of an injection. Only good thing is although the runs have dried up his words hasn’t.

So what will an out of form ODI skipper and South African called Graham Ford offer to the team that is not available currently Mahela? “Which might be a good surprise.” It had better be.

Photos courtesy- AP-Eranga Jayawardena

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