The series starting in Harare involving Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe may be a low profile one in keeping with the goings on in Test cricket elsewhere in the world; though, there is no doubting that the games will be every bit as important as one could imagine for both sides. For the two teams this is the first time they are locking horns in Test cricket since 2004, which is twelve long years.
Columns News - TALKING CRICKET
Is pink ball cricket here to stay? Will it be a permanent feature of Test cricket? Is day/night the way forward? These are yet some of the unanswered questions that are being continuously explored by the authorities.
I believe the idea of day night cricket played with a pink ball is a good one. Though judging by the numbers watching the game on the grounds at UAE in the recently concluded West Indies vs Pakistan first Test doesn't support it, I am sure the effect on TV audiences - where the money actually is - was bound to be large and much bigger than what a day game would have had on live telecast of a Test match.
In my topic of today, my attempt is to discuss the changing role of a coach in a cricket team and how critical a good coach can be towards its fortunes. To understand a role of the coach in the modern game, it's imperative that one looks back to the past.
Whilst the role of a coach can differ from a school team to a National team, my attention will be on the role of a coach in a National team. Interestingly the position of the coach never existed until recently, with a touring team generally having a Manager and an Assistant Manager who would take over the role of coaching, and that too, to organize practices and be in charge of a net, but generally the captain ran things.
Domestic cricket has been a topic of discussion and many theories have been put forward to upgrade it in Sri Lanka. The easiest - and a theory most people simply hold on to - is the reduction of the number of teams playing in the top league. Whilst that may appeal to many who may or may not understand the game completely, it's no doubt easier said than done.
Being in Bangladesh for the Afghanistan vs Bangladesh series also gave me time to peep into the BPL draft which happened on 30 September at the plush Radisson Hotel in the suburb of Dhaka. For the current edition two other teams have been added making it seven in all. Eighty five players in total and twenty three foreigners, including thirteen Sri Lankans, are in the fray. It's no doubt exciting times ahead for not just the players but for the vast number of fans that will flock to the stadiums come the tournament in November going on to the month of December.
This week, my topic once more will border on the much spoken of DRS in cricket. As we all know the DRS was brought in to take the howlers away from decisions in cricket, as with or without the Elite Panel of Umpires this was happening.
With the game becoming professional and very competitive by the day, and with the careers of players at stake, it was imperative that the decision making process was brought under control with the mistakes minimized.
The DRS most people felt when introduced was to overturn decisions of the on-field umpires with the available evidence. For that purpose the world did witness the vast improvement in technology too and the cricket world braced for this new addition or invention.
Is one of the key components of the bowlers union on the wane? Is quality spin bowling declining? That's my topic today as I attempt to understand the current situation in the world of cricket. My decision to write this column was hastened by the English squad selected to Bangladesh and the recall of the thirty eight year old Gareth Batty! For someone who hasn't played international cricket for the last ten years it would have been a pleasant surprise, though it underlines the grave situation of spin bowling, not just in England, but in the world of cricket.
Looking back at the limited over series which just concluded one can only express disappointment over Sri Lanka at the opportunities missed out. It has to be admitted that the fifty over series was a far closer contest than the T20 series, and not winning that part of the cricket will make both the players and the selectors to scrutinize their policy and selection. As for the T20, Sri Lanka had no answer to Glen Maxwell's blitz, who single handedly powered them to an astonishing and easy victory.
The ODI series which could have been won and sealed has been unfortunately lost by Sri Lanka. After thriving on dry pitches during the Test matches their fall from grace during the One Day Series can be considered both worrying and disappointing. After the highly successful and exciting Test series for Sri Lanka, where did the hosts go wrong in the ODI's?
Sri Lanka continues not only to dream but also live it in the current series against Australia. A team that appeared to be yearning and crying out for heroes to emerge seems to have them in abundance. The country was raving about Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva and Lakshan Sandakan not so long ago, and now they have got another one in Amila Aponso the left-arm spinner.
If Sri Lanka expects the Australians to cave in during the One Day series as easily they did in the Test – I am sure it's a totally misguided belief. The Aussies – if one knows them correctly will want to hit back hard; as they are smarting after a very humiliating defeat. To be whitewashed by the seventh ranked Test team in the world is a bitter pill for them to swallow and it will take them some time to recover from the shock.
SSC, where the Headquarters of Cricket is located, has the opportunity for a perfect fairy tale ending to the Sri Lanka-Australia Test series. This important location could lend itself to a historic whitewash, or in this case, a brown-wash, of the World's No.1 Test Team.
How can one assess the performance of the Aussies on the current tour? No doubt it's very early days with so much of cricket left. However, watching the manner they have played so far, it's clear that the world doesn't have champion teams anymore. All they can throw up is good teams that know to win and win quite easily on their conditions.
The first Test was on a knife-edge going into the fifth and final day. In theory the game had the potential to go either way. There was a possibility of a draw, too, due to the weather.
Sri Lanka should be commended for the way they fought back. They will be really pleased in toppling the top Test Nation of the world, as from day one the hosts had the greater advantage.
The battle lines have been drawn and both Sri Lanka and Australia are almost ready to do battle as the series starts on 26 July at Pallekele. To start with, both teams have their line-ups sorted out, and who will make the final eleven as far as the hosts are concerned is an interesting decision. Let's not forget that Pallekele is in the dry zone and with the prevailing weather one can't expect anything other than a dry surface.
In my previous columns I touched on the need to develop captaincy skills and also what I thought was the bane. Whilst there is no doubt a clear dearth exists in this regard, it's fervently hoped that the people who matter will take note of our points. Sadly, sometimes it's commonly known that decision-makers hold on to the notion of them knowing everything and they couldn't put a finger wrong theory, which can be a massive detriment! Let's hope we will see progress at least in the school cricket front!
I thought of a continuation of the last week's topic and that is about the development of a school cricketer in Sri Lanka. The development I have meant here is in the area of thinking and captaincy. In response to my column last week I did have a few interesting calls and one particular call from a highly respected former Sri Lanka Cricket Official and ex Sri Lanka Air Force and Cambrian cricketer, interested me very much, as he did suggest a very novel method to develop thinking.
The Sri Lanka tour of England is almost at its end, and sadly, the visitors have nothing to show at the time of writing other than a few glimpses which were visible. Reading through the reports and the social media, it's clear that we hear plenty of rumblings in the background and also the blame game has commenced. For the Test debacle quite a few players were personally targeted, and now the pendulum seems to have stopped with skipper Mathews.
If the average Sri Lankan fan was buoyant by the performance of the Sri Lankan's in the three limited over games played up to Friday, i.e in Ireland and at Nottingham, sadly the fourth and the second in the five match series against England should go down as a truly forgettable effort! To be thumped by ten wickets surely doesn't reflect the difference between the two sides, though I must admit that the win was convincing and comprehensive for England.
CT Sports: Sri Lanka has started off their campaign for the One day series and the T20's on a good footing with their convincing win over Ireland. Though encountering the English could be an entirely different proposition, winning is always a good thing. At the time this column is read the series against the Irish would have been decided with the Lankans crossing the channel to be back in England for the curtain raiser on 21 June.
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