Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Best we could find

With less than 12 hours before the final edition of the Champion Trophy kicks off, I decided to piece together my long overdue thoughts about the selection and prospects of the Sri Lankan cricket team for the tournament. Don't get me wrong, they aren't long over due because people are expecting them. They are long over due because I've had the content for this article planned out in my head for way too long, but too lazy to write them down. First things first though, no one should expect Sri Lanka to win this tournament. Not even Angelo Mathews. That's just absurd, far-fetched and against all odds. Hoping for Sri Lanka to win this would be nothing but stupid. But that exactly what us fans do. We'd rather be stupid and loyal, than smart and logical.

In terms of selection, Sanath Jayasuriya and his boys have done an excellent job. The fifteen best players in the island today have been selected to the tournament. Ajantha Mendis, Akhila Dananjaya as spinners, Suranga Lakmal, Dhammika Prasad as pacies and Kapugedara and Tharanga as batsmen have been left out for obvious reasons of lack of performance, barring Akhila, who probably lost it to Sachithra Senanayake on experience and match practice or simply due to injury. Youngsters Kithruwan and Angelo Perera have been left out and sent off to West Indies with the A team, where they will have more opportunity than carrying drinks in England. Akhila missing out on that squad probably further strengthens the case that he is injured. If he is not, he is one of the only TWO mistakes made by the selection committee, with the first being Dilhara Lokuhettige.

Even Angelo Mathews knows better than to pick Sri Lanka
as favourites to win this trophy
Ask your selves, what do you do when your premier Left-arm paceman, who is generally a swing bowler who can capitalize on the English conditions, breaks down a week before the tournament? Do you; replace him with another quick who can swing it with the assistance of weather and the pitch, preferably another left armer, or do you go for a hard hitting all rounder who's bowling is as threatening as Lahiru Thirimanne's dibbly-dobbly-back-of-the-hand-wide-of-the-crease-Chris-Harrisers? Well, Sri Lanka's selection panel goes for the latter, for reasons that are beyond me. The fact that he got a quickfire 42 in the practice game, doesn't justify anything. If Welegedara wasn't injured, he wouldn't have got it anyway. But he would have gotten a couple of wickets. Or at least bowled for better figures than "1-0-18-0". What the hell kind of a replacement is that? The only way Lokuhettige's selection is justifiable is if he was flown in for hindsight cover for Mathews or Thisara, given their knack for breaking down towards the end of big tournaments; 2011 world cup and 2012 CB series come to mind. If they don't, Welegedara can sit at home and laugh at the TV screen saying; "Heck, here I was thinking I was the easiest person to replace in the team."

 Now for the prospects. Who are we facing? New Zealand, England and Australia, respectively, with the last two being day night games. Realistically, who are we actually facing? Mills, Southee, McClenaghan and Franklin. If their ODI series was anything to go by, that's right up there with the best pace attack in the group. Say we somehow, maybe Kusal or Dilshan puts them off early and the middle order digs in and somehow get past them, who do we face next? Anderson, Broad, Finn, Bresnan. Probably the 2nd best Test pace attack in the world, at the moment. Say somehow, Mahela and Chandimal's grit prevails and Thisara tonks a few out of the park and we get past them too. Where to then? Straight to face Johnson, Starc, Faulkener and Watson. Yeah yeah, we did beat them in Australia twice, but they did beat us twice too. The odds aren't looking too good, and we haven't even got to their batting yet. And our bowling is HORRID, to say the least.

Given all that is possible, Sri Lanka; namely Malinga, Kulasekara, Thisara, Eranga, Mathews, Herath or Sachithra will have to overcome the in-form Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Shane Watson, Jonathan Trott and Josh Buttler and the ever unpredictable Brendon McCullum, Eoin Morgan, David Warner, Mathew Wade and Glen Maxwell. And a dozen more batsmen I haven't even mentioned here. And did I even tell you about Michael Clarke? Yeah, he's a beast. 

And this is just to get past the group stage!

So if you are a Sri Lankan fan, don't put your money on Sri Lanka. Put your money on South Africa, or Pakistan. Or just South Africa. Because we all know what happens to people who put their money on Pakistan. I don't want to be legally responsible if any of you reading this end up going to jail with Salman Butt again. 

But we aren't just Sri Lankan fans. We are Sri Lankans. Therefore we hope. We hope that Kusal and Dilshan give us blistering starts. That Sanga and Mahela put on century stands every time they go out to bat. That Chandimal and Mathews take care of the run rate towards the end and that Thisara's big hits come off every time he wields the willow. That Herath's arm ball bamboozles every right hander. That Malinga's yorkers fall just where he intends them to. That Kula and Eranga bowl like fire and ice with swing and seam. 

All too dreamy. All too far-fetched. All too Sri Lankan. 

But in the end, if Sri Lanka won't make it, we will know it was because we weren't just good enough. That the other teams were actually better. Because this time, after a long time, the 15 men (I have made up my mind that Lokuhettige was the best of the worst), are the best we have to offer at this moment in time. And if they can't win, then that is as much as we can do about it.

So let's just cross our fingers, and hope for the best, like we always do.

Catch you before the first game against New Zealand in two days time.
Till then,



  1. haha kumma =D this is awesome, well i felt like throwing a brick at you in the middle of the article =D

    1. Thanks boss! That's as good a compliment anyone could give me for this. Haha