Thursday, 27 June 2013

Time to expand

Cricket, we all love that word. Well, it made no difference to me, having grown up in an era Sri Lanka winning the World Cup in 1996. So it was running through my blood veins, since the day I remember. However, it is quite sad to say that I cannot recall that wonderful moment of the World Cup triumph in 1996. The oldest memory for me would be that special test match played by Sri Lanka and India at Colombo in 1997. So forth and so on, cricket always found a place in my life. Talking of credentials,  not so much to talk about. Having played cricket since age 7 (wanted start playing at 5, but the coach refused), 15 years of cricket seems a lot, but seems quite minute compared to 15 years of cricket played by Mahela Jayawardena, for that matter. However, holding a record of taking more wickets than the runs scored in a season, doesn't seem that bad as it looks. 

Anyways, getting back to cricket, I would like to draw attention on a serious matter with regard to the future of Sri Lanka cricket. Sri Lanka never boasted itself as a challenging test nation, except for a few purple patches. However, test cricket is becoming an increasingly alien format for Sri Lanka. We were lucky enough to have 2 test matches earlier this year against Bangladesh and one at the start of the year against Australia. That seemed to be it for this year, since the test series against the West Indies was scrapped off, and replaced by the ODI series, in which later India also confirmed participation, making it a tri nation series. The home series after the Windies tour against South Africa consists of 5 ODIs and 3 T20s. Exciting enough it seems, we are sure to get a hangover of limited over cricket pretty soon.

So only 3 test matches for the entire year. Well, Australia plays 4 test match series against India even, forget about the 10 back to back Ashes matches scheduled this summer . Survival of test cricket seems pretty tough in Sri Lanka. And so are the careers of players like Chanaka Welagedara, Prasanna Jayawardena. Thilan Samaraweera, one of the unsung heroes of Sri Lankan cricket has already succumbed a victim. Rangana Herath has somehow managed to survive in the pyjama suit form, with his pinpoint accuracy and reliability.

Rangana Herath's magic goes beyond Welagedera, PJ and Samare.
He has broken the curse of Only Whites and moved on to coloured clothing
However, forget about individuals, the country is to suffer as a whole due to the lack of test matches. Test cricket brings out the best a cricketer has to offer, from character to mental strength, and that's why it's rightly called "Test" cricket.  England have reaped the most success in Test cricket recently, not to mention that they have played the most number of matches in the past, which has clearly helped them to become a stronger opposition in the other formats as well. England emerged winners in the T20 World Championship in 2010 and emerged runners up, ( Winners upto 36 overs of the 40 over final), in the recently concluded Champions Trophy. This clearly reflects the success England have managed.

So maybe, it's the time to rethink the entire strategy. One smart person could point out that test cricket being boring, would not attract the crowds, hence the sponsors. For that question, I can only make a  request to watch 1 day of the forthcoming Ashes test series, if test cricket ever had any doubt of being boring, or uneventful.

Thank you

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