Tuesday, 25 December 2012

A novel stating the obvious;

The words "Sri Lanka Cricket" brings about a lot of different memories. Specially the 1996 surprise world cup win, Sanath and Kalu's explosive heroics, Murali's Doosra, Arjuna's aggressive captaincy and Sanga's graceful strokes with both bat and words. Sri Lanka Cricket is all that. It is what Sri Lanka Cricket is made of. It is what Sri Lanka Cricket has popularized and is known for around the globe.

But literally, "Sri Lanka Cricket" stands for none of this. Sri Lanka Cricket stands for corruption, inefficient management of resources, bribery and day light robbery. Sri Lanka Cricket portrays neither the Sri Lankan culture and people nor the Sri Lankan brand of cricket. Sri Lanka Cricket is the name given to the pathetic and corrupt institution of organized theft which is otherwise known among the Sri Lankan people as the "Sri Lankan Cricket Board".

From ticket price hikes, to favoured team and squad selection to stealing money which belongs to the board, to taking personal commissions for national projects to even match fixing, the so called "Sri Lanka Cricket" has been accused and also well known for a wide array of corrupt behaviour. Their mistakes and short comings cannot be justified by any means and nor can they be tolerated by anyone who has a love for the game.
The Lion nor the Cricket stands for anything that this institution stands for.
Selection committees to inter-rim committees to the executive committees to the governing body, everything related to Sri Lanka Cricket is corrupted. Players have not been paid properly. Funds allocated to grounds have been pocketed by committee members. Match tickets, specially during the world cup, have been sold to the black market and been hiked for personal commissions. Conversations between captains and higher officials have been leaked to the media. Coaches have been sacked for no reason. And worst of all, the people who are guilty for these causes are freely roaming and going about their business as usual, as if to say "what ever I do, you can only stand and watch, for I am the law and I am the power". Or something along those lines.

And the more I feel angered and saddened by this whole issue, the more I feel sorry for the Sri Lankan cricketers, who actually work for this institution and are under the word of such corrupt people. How the Sri Lankan cricket team shows up day in and day out, dishing out unbelievable performances, despite all this garbage that they have on their plates, is simply amazing. If "Sri Lanka Cricket" repels me from Sri Lanka's cricket by 10 fold, then Sri Lanka's crickets attract me to Sri Lanka's cricket by about a 100 fold. The only thing that saddens me though, is that the name "Sri Lanka Cricket" has been sold out to an institution that barely has the right to use a single small proportion of the prestige that the name carries. Sri Lanka Cricket is Sri Lanka's cricket's cancer. If nothing is done soon enough, death to Sri Lanka's cricket, seems inevitable.

NOTE: The above piece of writing is a critically creative mash-up of ideas and opinions. The credibility of the facts and details cannot be relied up on, although who ever wants to believe in the above can find enough and more proof and evidence to do so.


Blind faith and bright prospects

Australia vs Sri Lanka - 2nd Test - Melbourne Cricket Ground - 26th to 30th Dec.

So another test for Sri Lanka. Same team. Same captain. Same opposition. Same environment. Same odds. Sri Lanka stand against a falling giant. Yet again, they've allowed the giant to claw back in to all it's gigantism. It's sort of a deception though. Australia haven't really clawed back, Sri Lanka have just been average. As excepted. Melbourne offers the same expectations for both sides, Australia will go in for a win, be disappointed with a draw and will rue and regret a loss. Sri Lanka will go for a win too, wouldn't be too surprised with a loss, will be more than satisfied with a draw and will be ecstatic with a win. Nothing seems to have changed from Hobart.

Or has it? Sri Lankans have come to believe that the MCG is their home away from home, specially with the huge crowd support and also somewhat due to their past performances. If my memory serves me correctly, Sri Lanka have won the last 3 ODIs they played here. One in the 2006 CB series, then in the 2010 ODI series and again in the 2012 CB series, and all three have come against Australia. All three of them closely fought, specially with the one in 2010 now being dubbed the Melbourne Miracle amongst the Sri Lankan fans. Spirits seem to be high going in to Melbourne, and suggests that not all has stayed the same since Hobart.

The team though, should be. Unless Kula is injured, in which case I think Thisara Perera should replace him. Unfortunately for TP, he's stuck in Brisbane playing for the Heat instead of being in the national squad, thanks to a bit of brilliant selection by SLC. So if Kula is actually injured, Prasad would be the man to get the nod, and it really disappoints me. Watching Prasad bowl is like watching a Sri Lankan Traffic Policeman standing in the middle of the road during a rainy day directing traffic. You know he is trying hard, doing his level best, giving his heart out but you also know he is only making things worse. So you are stuck between feeling sorry for him and being annoyed by him. Yet you have no choice but to sit and stare at him carry out his business for you're stuck in the traffic he has sort of created.

We can see that you're trying Dhammika,
but what exactly are you trying to do?
Enough about Sri Lanka, let's talk about Australia. Have you not heard? About the bird? Well everybody knows about the bird, coz the Bird Bird Bird, the Bird is the Word! Clarke might not play, Starc got 5 in the 4th innings and is sitting out. And He Who Bowls to Left, and Bowls to the Right, is back in the team in place of Hilfenhaus. Sri Lankans couldn't have wished for anything more for Christmas, but knowing them, I wouldn't be surprised if they make a right mess out of this either.

Before the series started, I predicted 3-0 to Australia but hope for 2-1 for Sri Lanka. The fighting loss in Hobart has already happened, and it's now time for Sri Lanka to catch the Aussies off-guard on boxing day at the MCG, with the crowd behind them and tie this at 1-1. This is blind faith, yet seems so realistically possible that you often cannot draw the line between that and bright prospects in your head. When Mahela goes to toss at the MCG, he will not just be flipping a coin with the Queen's face on one side, he would be flipping stomachs of many many anxious Sri Lankan fans like me around the world. Such are the blind. Determined, admirable yet pathetic.


Saturday, 22 December 2012

The cricket writer's-block

It took me four days to decide what to write after Sri Lanka lost the first test in Hobart by a matter of minutes and some runs. It wasn't a devastating loss, nor was it a really close finish. But it had Sri Lankan fans like me hoping. And when hope comes in to play, it really takes a toll on you as a fan when that hope is destroyed. Emotional and unprofessional. Then again, that's exactly what fans are.

Sri Lanka fought. They were ruled out before the game. "Worst pace attack to land in our shores" and such. Australia 450/5 declared and SL 87/4 at the end of the 2nd day. Then Dilshan and Mathews revived hope. Put up a real street fight. Sri Lanka still conceded a lead of 121 and were behind the 8-ball again. Then after exchanging punches in the 2nd innings and keeping the target to 393, Sri Lanka set off a chase, for 4 sessions and 393 runs.

For 3 sessions, it seemed Sri Lanka would draw it. Aussies seemed diminished, the weather gods seemed to be on our side and the three musketeers; Sanga/Mahela/Samare seemed set in stone at the wicket. Then one by one fell. Tripped over the unevenness of the track, booby-trapped, tricked and deceived. It wasn't a mine field like a 5th day Galle pitch, but it wasn't a complete belter either. But all this was as expected.

Sri Lanka was expected to lose. Was expected to concede a 1st innings lead. Was expected to be behind the 8-ball in the 3rd innings and was expected to be bowled out before the end of days play on the 5th. It all happened. But it created doubt in the minds of the aussies. There were times they felt the match could not be won. Nathan Lyon seemed to only manage a whimper from an end where Herath took 5 on the 4th day. Starc seemed all over the place and with Hilfenhaus gone, Siddle was the only who looked like he could deliver a victory.

In the end he did. Starc found his length, Siddle found his rhythm and all was well for Australia. In the end, they had finally beaten Sri Lanka and put the predictions straight. But it was that VERY fact that excited me as a fan.

When Australia celebrate like this, for a test win against Sri Lanka at home,
you know that's something you can be happy about, as a Sri Lankan Fan.

Australia celebrated in the end with sighs of relief. The joy was as per to say, "Goddamnit son, imagine what we'd have to go through if we didn't win!". Hobart was supposed to be an easy win for Australia. Sri Lanka was supposed to be an easy side to beat. But they weren't. And come boxing-day, Sri Lanka might well be "an easy side to lose to".

Oh darn it, I am back to this hoping business again. We fans never learn, do we. No matter how many times hope come and bites us in the backside.

More on the Boxing-Day test on tomorrow's post. Until then;


Sunday, 16 December 2012

From strangled to stable to tatters to awkward

Sri Lanka vs Australia - 1st Test - Hobart - December 17th
Day 4 - Tea - Australia 450/5d & 278/9 dec.

Sri Lanka 336 all out. Need 392 to win.

Well well well. After I was denied on watching days two and three due to having to travel back and forth between Montreal and Toronto during the weekend, and finally I'm free on Sunday night to witness the game, Sri Lanka and Australia have decided to balance the match on a knife edge. It's balanced on a knife edge for now, because Sri Lankans haven't started batting yet, and haven't flopped on the chase already and we will have to wait another few minutes to find that out.

Day two was frustrating. Checking the score before I left, I was overjoyed by seeing Micheal Clarke out within the first 15 minutes of the day, but Hussey, Wade, Siddle and unfortunately also helped by Sanga and Samaraweera, pulled me back down to earth and probably stepped on me and trampled me a little as well. A cut on the last over of the day to an off spinner by Samare? What was he thinking? 3 down for 80 odd and a flashing cut to something he could have left alone? And who's idea was it to NOT send a nightwatchman after Mahela got out? There was only 3 overs to go. Very elementary tricks missed. And Hussey probably averages in kilo runs against Sri Lanka now. I'm sure his numbers against Sri Lanka will show something like 11.98k per innings. The man gets so much runs against Sri Lanka that Mohammed Azhrudeen and Virat Kohli might start feeling jealous about an Australian beating the Sri Lankans around the park, more than they have. Virat Kohli probably already is jealous, given that he was the first cricketer in recent history to average in kilo runs against Sri Lanka.
Mike Hussey has surpassed Virat Kohli in the
 "Most runs scored against Sri Lanka in a calendar year" award
Day three was for the most part, was one of the best returns for the Sri Lankan fans from the team, for being loyal. Dilshan and Mathews put their heads down and said "No, we aren't going to give up" and brilliantly held on for the most of the day, before Australia got back in to the act and bowled Sri Lanka out with a lead of 121 and didn't lose a wicket while batting. Dilshan's got his first 100 in Australia, and joined a list of an elite group of Sri Lankans, including Sanath, Aravinda, Gurusinghe, Hashan, Marvan, Mahela and Sanga. Come to think of it, since that first touring team in 89, Samaraweera is the only one who isn't in that list now. And Kapugedara. Kapugedara needs to be in every list. Just. Just to make those lists irrelevant and un-elite. 

On day four, Australia started by belting the Lankan attack to all corners. Memories of 2007/08 came to mind. And then Sri Lanka pegged them back. Got 5 wickets for 49 runs in the middle. Clarke got a quick 50 and left the field clutching his hamstring and Sri Lanka just rolled the tail out setting up the test perfectly. And after being strangled at 80/4 at the end of the 2nd day, then going to a stable position thanks to Dilshan and Mathews, and then thrown in to tatters by Warner and Cowan early on the 4th day, Sri lanka have now pushed Australia to an awkward corner where all three results are possible.

How much I'd give, to see a repeat of Sanga's 192 on this very ground, followed by Samare's inclusion to that list we were talking about before, I don't even know. Sounds like too much to ask, but after seeing Dilshan, Mathews then Herath and Welegadara script this comeback in true grit, I won't throw the possibility of a Sri Lankan win out of the window.

Argh! I hope I won't have to regret dreaming!


Friday, 14 December 2012

The Australian art of deception

Sri Lanka vs Australia - 1st Test - Hobart - December 14th
Day 1 - Stumps - Australia 299/4 (90)

Australians haven't been known for their deceptive skills, over the years. They've always had more of a warrior-at-your-throat kind of approach than a tricky ambush sort of one. In the recent history, their players like McGrath wasn't known for a well hidden slower ball. Although Shane Warne hyped the press every summer with a "New Variation", there was never a sort of "mystery ball" that the batsmen couldn't pick. Ponting and Gilchrist never had a shot named after them. They were good solid cricketers, who knew what they were doing, and since they did it so well, didn't have anything to hide from the opposition.

This time around though, the Hobart curator has decided to mess with the heads a bit. A relayed pitch at the Belleriev meant that it had no green monsters on it, as the numerous articles had suggested in the build up, some even calling it "The Hulk". Flat as a Roti, it was, the pitch. Kulasekara might even have been tempted to get some Lunu-Miris and have a bite off it, specially after that dropped chance by Mathews in the first over the day. If it stays the same for 2 more days though, the Sri Lankans won't be complaining , Sangakkara and co will be licking their lips to dig their teeth in to this one. This is given that at the end of the next 2 days, Australia wont still be batting, at this rate, somewhere around 800/9.

On a pitch like that Sri Lanka will take the Aussie run rate of 3.2 any day, specially given the caliber of their bowling attack. This isn't half the quality of that of which Australia threaded to bits and pieces in Adelaide against South Africa. Yet, take nothing away from Hughes, Warner and Clarke. They played as well as they can play, frustrated the bowlers by playing and missing, but not edging it. I wonder if it's a little mind game, playing and missing deliberately, inviting the bowler to go fuller and wider, and crunching a cover drive to the fence. I've heard that the famous Ceylonese captain, F.C De Seram, of the early 1950s used to do it, back in the day. Sounds like a complete gamble only the bravest and the cleverest could pull off! Australia though, probably were just good. Simple and unrattled.

Phil Hughes played the kind of "frustrating-fresher" innings,
that Dimuth Karunaratne might want to replicate.
But, Sri Lanka will be happy. They didn't let Australia maul them over, like they did in their last tour back in 2007. Having sent back the top four for less than 200 on the board, they now have a chance of bowling out Australia for the first time since Cairns, 2004. And Rangana Herath hasn't even bowled a proper spell yet! Even Hussey and Clarke were tied down for the most part of their 100-run partnership, and even towards the end, neither looked rock solid at the crease, Eranga getting . With the new ball in hand, the Sri Lankan quicks, or should I say "the 1-half-quick-and-2-dibbly-dobblies", would back them selves to restrict Australia to under 800. Well, realistically to about under 500, but under 500 DOES technically mean its under 800, so we should be good either way.

At the end of the day, Sri Lanka haven't looked like they can beat Australia, as expected. But Australia haven't looked like they can beat Sri Lanka yet either, unlike the last time these teams met in this part of the world. And on that note, Mahela Jayawardane will be grinning in his sleep tonight.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Luck comes with persistance

Sri Lanka vs Australia - 1st Test - Hobart - December 14th
Day 1 - Tea - Australia 193/3 (57)

Welagedara to Hughes/Watson. Short. Wide. Out side off. RUNS to Australia.

Eranga to Hughes/Watson. Short. Wide. Out side off. RUNS to Australia.

Mathews to Hughes/Watson. Short. Wide. Out side off. RUNS to Australia.

Kulasekara to Hughes/Watson. On the stumps. Cramped for room. Defended. 

Herath to Hughes/Watson. Short. Wide. Out side off. RUNS to Australia.

You would have thought this was one of those "Immunity games" at the Biggest Loser TV show, considering how Short and Wide the Sri Lankans were, contrary to their slender-man-esque figures. And then out of the blue;

Welagedara to Hughes. Short. Wide. Out side off. EDGED. CAUGHT BEHIND! NO BALL!!!!!!!!

Could you believe that? Could you freaking believe that?? The Mayan calendar was more believable than that no-ball. Shame on you Welagedara, you have disgraced our ancestors.

Welagedara persisted with the short and wide rubbish-corridor to Hughes and Watson,
and thought it would be smart to bowl a no-ball every now and again, just in case he got an edge. 
And then, Wele got another one to move away from Watson, got the edge, Mahela took the catch of the year, all was well and the Sri Lankans trudged off to tea with wry smiles pretending that they still had control of this game.

More on the second and last sessions after the game.


Like a bunch of freshers

Sri Lanka vs Australia - 1st Test - Hobart - December 14th
Day 1 - Lunch - Australia 97/2 (26.2)

Excited. Jumpy. Edgy. Thrilled and uneasy. That's how Sri Lanka has looked in the first session in Hobart. Like a bunch of 15 year olds playing in their first junior's league game. they've looked very promising and unsettled. Apart from probably Nuwan Kulasekara, who on the other hand could be the one you'd mistake for a 15 year old school boy cricketer if you met him on the street, everyone else has looked rather nervous. Well, who wouldn't be Australia are 2 down for 97! That's only 2 less that the total number of wickets they got in the whole match in the 1st test of their last series here!

Billy the Kid might think he is the one and only Baby-faced assasin,
but he is not.
But they'll need to settle down soon. A couple of half chances have gone down. Half chances, I've never really liked that word. Does it mean, if you take it, it's only half a wicket? Do you have to take two half chances to get one wicket? Does it have to be of the same batsman? How do you split the credit between the bowler? Rubbish. Tough chances. Missed though. Vaas would have caught the one Welegedera got, but Vaas wouldn't have been bowling to Warner. He'd have been bowling to Hayden instead. And Hayden's on drive lands 60m behind the bowler's arm, or goes carpet along the ground. Mathew's made a bump ball look like a dropped catch. Would have been a screamer if he'd caught it, but I guess slip catching is an art which needs to be perfected, and in conditions like Galle and P Sara back home, it is an art even Picasso would have had a hard time picking up.

As Australia were nicely ticking along, Kula decided to go round the wicket and bowl which Warner seemed to think were leg breaks, the way he was hesitant to leave them. Welegedara then produced the ugliest of bouncers of which the ugliness was equally matched by the horrid pullshot Ed Cowan presented it with, face pointed at the sun, toe pointed at Wele's face, as if to say "Hey, two can play the ugly game!". Obviously he was out caught and all was well.

Warner and Hughes then went on rampage on the offside, Eranga their primary target, and occasionally also Welegedara. At the stroke of lunch, Dilshan went out to bowl with his golden arm and got a wicket off a run out. Talk about luck! Herath must be ruing the fact that he is a left arm spinner rather than a righty given the number of left handers in this Aussie line up, but bank on him to make life much difficult for Watson when he comes out to bat after lunch.

Lets wait and see how things unroll at the Bellerive for the second session will begin in a matter of minutes.

Catch you for a quick paragraph after tea. Until then,


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A bird's eye through a bullet hole

Sri Lanka vs Australia - 1st Test - Hobart - December 14th to 18th


So, my first "Match Preview". All those who came here expecting an in depth analysis of the build up to this game and how it is going to unfold, please kindly navigate to ESPNcricinfo and read the article by Brydon Coverdale. This is not going to fall in to that category. Oh no. No no no. I am NOT doing a statistical analysis of a build up to the first test. Not going to happen. If you need to hear what I think about how Sri Lanka will again put up an above average show against a below average Australia (by their standards), do continue reading. This is how I see previews, like an eagle staring in to distance through a bullet hole. Expecting to see miles and miles of meadow, yet blinded and obstructed by the tiny hole he is forced in to looking through.

After 3 weeks of intense test cricket, we have 4 host nations unable to win a test series in their own backyards. Bangladesh faltered against a not-so-good Tino Best, not even at his best. But they are still Bangladesh. What else can you expect from them? A giant killing 3-2 ODI win against the world T20 champions West Indies? Oooops! Sri Lanka continued to show that the P.Sara Oval is a result oriented wicket, only the result being almost always going against them, letting New Zealand draw the series out of no where. Australia made a boxing match out of a series they should have won 2-1 ahead of the boxing day test, delivering all the blows early in the series and getting knocked out by the first proper punch laid on them. India were India. Talked the talk, but couldn't walk it. Even if they win the 4th test in Nagpur, which starts in a matter of minutes from now, they would still only be drawing the series, and not winning it 4-0, as they had claimed they would. And after what seemed like a dream few weeks for visiting teams, now we have New Zealand touring South Africa and Australia hosting Sri Lanka. How rather disappointing.

Don't get me wrong. Sri Lanka look SOLID on paper. Dilshan, Mahela, Sanga and Samare all have the talent, the history and the quality to make it big. Mathews, Prasanna and Dimuth, who Mathews hinted would play, are all capable support players to the big guns. Mathews might even make it to big guns list, on his day. Herath is the best left arm spinner the test circuit right now and Kulasekara, Eranga and Wele will be a handful on a green top at the Bellerive with overcast conditions predicted for the first four days.

The last time Sri Lanka played on a renowned "Green Top",
they scripted one of the most glorious wins in their test history.

It is just a question of character. We are up against a team that thrives on mental strength. If there is anything that you need to win a test in Australia, it's toughness. And if there is one thing that this team lacks, apart from being one of the weakest pace attacks in the world, it is the mental toughness. It is what sets Sri Lanka back, what makes them crumble in finals, and lose the last test of a series. The talent and the ability is surely there, but the toughness hasn't been inculcated. Like a really well tuned electric guitar, without an amp. It has the ability to make the most beautiful solo, but the sound it makes has just too little volume on it's own to really move anyone who is listening to it.

Sri Lanka will put up a fight though. They sure will. Sanga has started with the mind games, by saying it will be favourable for Sri Lanka if a green top is prepared. Although it may seem correct, looking at how all three of our pacemen rely on swing and seam to get wickets rather than pace and bounce, it is a very witty comment. It is almost as witty as saying "Mate, we are going to beat you at your own game, and we are going to make it look very pretty too." Mathews has come out and given away the team composition, less than 24 hours to the start. It is something Steve Waugh used to do as captain. Announce the team on the eve of the match. It shows confidence. Character. The very things Australians don't expect from visiting sides from the subcontinent.

So don't be surprised if Sri Lanka catch Australia off guard tomorrow. They might just win the toss and rip out Australia's four openers and if they are lucky even send back one of Hussey or Clarke. Or they might be sent in to bat, and Dimuth and Dilshan would bat out till lunch, punching gloves and heading to the pavilion at 102/0. Dimuth would score one of those knocks where the opposition is frustrated by the performance of a fellow who they haven't even heard of, and making the fans go bonkers trying to relate to each other about the new guy who notched up a 50, whose name the Channel 9 commentators can't even pronounce properly. Or they could well be 65/5 by lunch, Starc 3 and 1 each for Hilfenhaus and Watson. While the latter seems the most likely, don't consider it a miracle if one of the first two predictions come to be true, for Sri Lanka have enough and more ability to do so, and us die hard fans will expect nothing less than that from them.

Someone snap me out of this dream!

From credentials to selections - Cont.

Now, moving on to this Sri Lanka's tour of Australia. I'll discuss the Hobart game later tonight, but for now, let's discuss the series. Sri Lanka are playing 3 tests in Australia for the first time since 1995, that being the only other time we played in the MCG on boxing day. Sri Lanka lost 3-0 that time around. A century each for Gurusinghe, Tilakaratne and Jayasuriya. Murali no balled by Hair at the MCG. Ugly scenes. Pathetic tour for the Lankans, but this tour, this tour was what really laid the foundation for that 1996 World Cup victory. Like a blessing in disguise.

There's nothing of that sort waiting for the Sri Lankans at the other end of this tour. Probably a series of retirements, and a captaincy shift, at most. So this is it. Dilshan has already said this would be his last Test tour to Australia. Samaraweera and Mahela don't even have to say it. By the time the next tour down under comes by, they would be sitting on a couch with their family, enjoying a home cooked meal. Sangakkara, who knows, the man's performances have already seemed too good to be true. Maybe he can pull a rabbit out of the hat before his retirement as well.

But what it all comes down to is, Sri Lanka WANT to win in Australia. They've essentially got nothing to lose either and they've got 3 tests to do it. One in Hobart, where Sri Lanka came closest to winning one in 2007, before Rudi Kortzen thought it would be funny to give a man on 192 batting with number 10, out caught behind off his shoulder. One in Melbourne, where there are more Sri Lankans than 3rd generation Australians. Where there is 600 times more crowd support for the Sri Lankan team than there is at the SSC on the 3rd day of a Test match. The last one in Sydney, Australia's version of a rank turner, although probably it turns less on the 5th day than it does on the 1st morning at Galle, with the new ball. But then again, this game might not even go on to the 5th day. Cricket Australia have given 3 venues where Sri Lanka have realistic chances of winning. why? Because they want to beat us where we at least have a chance, to show that they are brutal.

Such are the chances for victory for the Lankans. More dim than the dimmed lights one uses while driving around Petta without license, trying to keep away from cops. Specially with a team that has excluded Thirimanne, Thisara Perera and Ajantha Mendis in the squad, but instead has swear-at-will Prasad and all-over-the-place Pradeep. I see what they are trying to do, expose our mediocre pacemen to the Australian pitches at every opportunity. It's a good plan for the future, but don't we also want to WIN that one series we get once in TWO blue moons? Investment at the cost of players who would have a direct impact on the result of a game isn't the wisest thing to do. It's unfair on the rest of the team, for the other players who expect to go out and win. For us, who expect the best XI to take the field.

Specially for players like Mahela, Sanga, Dilshan and Samaraweera. Can you believe that in a 15 year career for Mahela, he has only played 4 tests in Australia? Sangakkara only Three! Samare Three. Dilshan Two! Prasanna Jayawardane has played two though, making him one of the most experienced test players in these conditions in the squad, only 2 behind his namesake, Mahela. He's played only one match less in Oz than Sangakkara, who would have thought? No one in the squad has even played a test at the MCG or at the SCG. And this would be their one last chance at playing and winning in the land which has almost been forbidden, looking at the minute amount of matches they've played there.

Would you believe that Prasanna Jayawardane has played almost an equal number of tests in Australia as Sangakkara?  Don't worry, Sanga and PJ probably won't believe it either.

Yet, this IS Australia. Arguably the mentally strongest side in the world. They don't just beat you. They crush you when they do. Australia lost the ashes 3-1 in 2010/11 but that one win was by an innings and 250+ runs. That's how ruthless Australia are, even when they aren't doing too well. And after this South Africa series, they will be hungry, and a 3-0 defeat for the Lankans looms in the vicinity.

With a bowling attack that averages as high as the age of the team, around the high 30s, Sri Lanka's chances of winning a test, let alone a series seem pretty slim. To expect anything other than a 3-0 drubbing would be silly. But then again, this is the same team that played 3 in England and drew 2. The one that was lost, was lost in a session, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I don't even want to know. But this is the same line up that didn't go 3-0 down to South Africa. In fact, this same bowling line up conjured a win at the Green Mamba in Durban, also handing Jaques Kallis his first pair in test cricket. To completely write them off wouldn't be the smartest thing to do either. If it is needed, let's do so on the 3rd morning of the 2nd test in MCG, when Sri Lanka have lost the 1st test by an innings and 168 runs, and are currently 73/6 after the Aussies declared at 603/4 on the last session on the 2nd day.

I saw a lot of pundit comments by Sri Lankan fans on cricket websites after India lost 4-0 last summer. Let's hope for their sake that Mahela, Sanga, Herath and Co. and string together some sort of miracle to save their throats from being shoved down with humble pie. If I were one of them, I'd already have a serviette tied around my neck, expecting nothing less from the Aussies other than being served from the same spoon.

So, there ends my beginning for this cricket blog and I'm already smiling. And that is why I write about cricket. Two things that make me smile the most. Cricket and writing. I don't think anyone needs more credentials than that to start their own blog. I've been deprived of cricket for a quite a while, and this is my escape to a place where I get to enjoy cricket again. No matter what has changed, cricket seems to find a place, here at my fingertips, in the freezing cold big red north. As they say in Colombo; "You can take the boy away from cricket, but you cannot take the cricket away from the boy".

I'll do my match preview for the 1st test tonight. Until then,


From credentials to selections

So 65 views for my first post. Not bad for a start. I don't even know how they count these views. Maybe I viewed it 64 times, and one of my friends viewed it once. These numbers can be extremely deceiving so lets not look too far ahead in to that one. Vernon Philander will tell you that stats don't lie, but he can't disagree to the fact that they don't fail to deceive either.

Starting from where I left off last night, credentials. My credentials as to writing about cricket, on the internet, criticizing, praising and analyzing cricketing aspects. What are my credentials to do so? None. Honestly. None. These posts carry no credibility. These are personal opinions. This is a blog and I will write as I please. My comments about cricket are as good as yours, assuming that Sachin Tendulkar and Richie Benaud will not be reading this blog. Who needs credentials to write something up on the internet anyway? That is like going to watch a stand-up comedy and expecting the comedian to be politically correct. Or eating at the hot-dog stand down the street and expecting the food to be gourmet. If the producer is not a professional, then don't expect the product to be professional either.

On that note, let's move on to the cricket. What's ON this week. Sri Lanka's Premier Limited Overs tournament has started. No more tier A and tier B, after the no-more-relegation fiasco, meaning last year's champions Colts, last year's bottom table dwellers NCC and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (or what ever they call themselves) are playing in the same group. Impressive, don't you think? Load of cow pie if you ask me. I heard on Jarrod Kimber's weekly podcast this week a comment about our first class system. TOO MANY BLOODY TEAMS! If the two-tier system wasn't bad enough, they've decided to merge it. How brilliant is that! It's almost as brilliant as picking Dammika Prasad for the Australia Tour instead of Thissara Perera, but not quite.

Anil Rideegammanagedara has made a comeback to the domestic arena, he's playing with Galle CC now. I wonder whether he played for them last year as well. I wouldn't know. I didn't even know Galle CC had a captain, until I saw them topping the Group B table, above SSC and Bloomfield, after a week in to the tournament! Well good for him. Let's hope he never makes an appearance again, so that I don't have to write his ridiculously long name in my blog once more. Oh the hypocrisy, given that I my self have ten names.

Anil Rideegammanagedera : How I'd love to hear
David Lloyd try and pronounce his name.
Elsewhere, the BBL has kicked off. Thisara got 22 in 8. Malinga got 6 for 7. Murali played too.

Sri Lanka's tour of Australia kicks off this Friday, with the 1st test in Hobart. More on that on my next post.

Today's favorite cricket memory : Listening to Ajantha Mendis Take 6/13 vs India at the Asia Cup Final, on the radio while parked outside a McDonald's, waiting for my sister to come back from a party.


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Hail all them Live Streams!

It's not easy, being a Sri Lankan born 21 year old, spending his 1st year in Canada. Cold winters, no beaches, no sunshine for the most part of the year. Downright depressing. But that sort of dilemma is part of living in Canada. They are things all Canadians go through everyday, every year. It is expected. It is something that you prepare for. What you don't prepare for, is the lack of cricket!

It meant, no going down to the SSC to watch the after lunch session on a weekday evening. No lining up at the B lower stand at the Premadasa to watch a One-dayer. Not even watching matches on Channel Eye on a Sunday morning. Barring the details, I was deprived of watching cricket by any means I used to back home. As a Sri Lankan, I don't think you can EVER prepare for that kind of torture!

Specially if you are one of those Sri Lankans who eat, breath and live cricket. For us, cricket is not just a game. It is still a game, where we accept both victory and defeat, cheering the team on no matter what goes about on the field. But it is not JUST that. It's about passionately watching every ball while making millions of permutations in our heads, predicting the opponent's next move and suggesting how Sri Lanka should face up to it, even before it has been executed. It is about carefully analyzing every build up, every game, every win and every loss. Coming in to conclusions, making statements both statistical and emotional, and just hoping against hope that a Sangakkara or a Muralitharan would conjure some sort of miracle, now and again, just to carefully and swiftly, BLOW YOUR MIND!

Sri Lanka is that sort of cricketing nation. We are very consistent. We lose about 35-40% of the one day games we play every year. Tests, we seldom win a series, obviously that being at home. Draw lots of them, and lose a few here and there. But we are consistent. Not consistently winning, or consistently losing, just consistently above average. It doesn't make us a world dominating side, but it doesn't make us a dreadful side either, and neither are we average. It's like Banana. Neither brilliantly tasteful like Rambutan, nor horribly tasteless like Laulu. Just Banana, tasty but not the best thing you've ever had.

Sri Lanka : Consistently surprising, or surprisingly consistent?
But now and again, we decide to show that we are a top team. Like that really good Koli-Kuttu you had at your mother's cousin's uncle's brother-in-law's wife's almsgiving. Every now and again, we surprise everyone. We are so consistent at surprising people, that the Pakistanis, South Africans and the English probably expect us to surprise them more often than we do! And THAT is something we take pride in. Us die hard fans, that is. We know our team, and we know it's potential, and we feel SO PROUD when they live up to it. Cricket has that kind of effect on us. Cricket has that kind of effect on me. Cricket is not just a game. Nor is it just a lifestyle. It is life.

So therefore, I told my self not to let my habits die off. Not to give away the biggest passion of my life. To make sure cricket stays part of me, here in Canada, as it has been for as long as I can remember. For that, I have to thank all the generous folk behind the web servers on the numerous Live Cricket Streaming sites that I go on! If not for them, I'd be left to ball-by-ball text commentary to follow the games! Not that I don't go on live text commentary while I watch the game in the other tab, but you know what I mean.

Well, now that I've given you my background, we can start off here. My next post will be about why I write about cricket, and what my credentials are for doing so. Once I get that out of the way, let's get to the business end. There is a test in Hobart that begins in 44 hours, and I don't want to miss that!

Before I go, here's my favorite cricket memory for today:
Arjuna Ranatunga's 131* vs India at the R. Premadasa in 1997. The first cricket match I ever watched at a stadium!