As promised I am back posting again after conclusion of exams! My first foray into the Blogosphere described the need for change in our cricket to break the depressing sequence of defeats. But the next theme I endeavour to discuss is the likelihood of these changes occurring, for optimism for a better future is hollow unless this better future is realistic.
That prompted me to pen "So Hope Is Genuine" during my lunch break in the waiting area of Guy's Hospital as we stood staring down the barrel of a whitewash, already 4-0 down in that ignominious one day series with India. Thankfully the toss, Dilshan, Sangakkara, Maharoof and a gallant bowling performance saved our pride.
Indeed the very next week the winds of change were in full flow. Then captain Mahela Jayawardene honourably stepped down, putting his country first and giving his successor Kumar Sangakkara ample time to imprint his ideology on the team for the 2011 world cup. I remarked that the leadership of Sangakkara was a cause for optimism and even despite the horrendous (no doubt an aberration) batting slump in Wednesday's warm up loss to South Africa I believe this is a portent of a better tomorrow.
Sangakkara possesses an astute cricketing brain, relentless work ethic and his statesmanlike demeanour and exemplary, flawless batting leads from the front. This will rub off on his players encouraging them to strive to fulfil their potential and do Mother Lanka proud. I believe he will oversee Sri Lanka's return to the top.
Then there was the IPL in South Africa. Lasith Malinga roared back to form, was at one point the purple cap holder and bowling by his own admission within himself hit 144kph, flinging in searing bouncers and most encouragingly his trademark toe crushing Yorkers swinging in all three directions. The contrast in pace of him and Nuwan Kulasekara, the world's number one limited overs bowler will give nightmares to all teams.
Mahela Jayawardene's barren patch thankfully ended and he hit three man of the match innings if my memory serves me right. The 43 against Deccan Chargers included three sixes (or DLF maximums in the vernacular!) and the return of his timing, class and grace along with the ability to produce sixes is a massive boon to our batting. No longer does he try to force the ball like when out of form and this showed in his 46 against the plucky Bangladeshis.
Tillakaratne Dilshan's white hot form raged on during the IPL while Thilina Thushara Mirando turned in some fiery performances, though he tends to over pitched in the death overs.
Farveez Maharoof bowled creditably in the two games he got. Isuru Udana, rated by many as the next Chaminda Vaas was man of the series in the recently completed domestic inter provincial T20 was duly selected for national duty.
Many young batsmen have shone of late, such as Bhanuka Rajapakse, Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera and Gihan Rupasinghe, described as Sri Lanka's best batsman after Sangakkara by Dav Whatmore awaits A team exposure. Angelo Mathews has the potential to become our Botham or MacMillan.
Despite the shameless bickering in SLC HQ, which must seriously get its act together like Cricket Australia and the ECB as an organised and responsible cricket board to secure the good work of the players, I have every right to believe this decline post 2007 world cup heroics will end. Indeed this may well be the T20 world cup, the official start of Sanga's tenure and our first international game since the vile Lahore attack. It is also the first international game for this new Sri Lanka, freed from the cancer of the LTTE's terror. So the incentive to do the nation proud will no doubt be heaving.
While the loss to South Africa exposes weakness, it also serves as a blueprint for greater discipline as mistakes should. Indeed warm up losses are better than international ones and I hope our boys feel no inhibitions as they take on the Australians with their backs to the wall having been battered by the Gayle (and Fletcher) force.
We must have CONFIDENCE, CONTROL and be free from complacency and CAPITALISE on our opponents weaknesses which are there to be punished. Indeed Malinga's return, Maharoof and the ever improving Angelo Mathews give Sri Lanka the tournament's best bowling attack with Kula, Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan baying for the blood of opposing batsman.
The appointment of a specialist Sri Lankan fielding coach should put paid to the blunders and drop in intensity seen after the departure of Tom Moody and Trevor Penney.
I'm aware the Achilles heel is the batting and that this must sharpen up if we are to see off Australia. Indeed while T20 needs big hits, Kumar Sangakkara was spot on in saying "its not just a slog" as you need to plan and class will always prevail. Also good players can produce the big hits when needed. Our bowlers should strive to cramp up these hard hitters and exploit their lack of mid range consolidatory gears and frustrate them into rash dismissal.
I know Sanath Jayasuriya, the greatest one day player of all time is due a big innings, Dilshan will be confident and I sincerely hope Sangakkara and Jayawardene lead by example to ease the load and inspire Mubarak and De Saram and the allrounders. My best wishes are with them in their best efforts to win.
To inspire false hope is as criminal,
As to crush someone’s confidence,
Excite not the fires of expectation,
When you know the castle will be stormed,
Play not with human emotions,
For fate will gain its revenge.
Be sensible, realistic, intelligent,
Optimism is a virtue, indeed always hope for the best,
The future is beautifully unpredictable,
But assess, empirically, insightfully, unbiased-ly,
What is the most likely outcome,
Let not desire cloud the virtue of foresight.
Of course you want and prefer one way, you are human,
But this may not be the result,
But be not dejected,
Instead look for change for better,
Evidence of the process of improvement,
To build a better tomorrow.
If change is the need of the hour, yearn for it,
Search for its indisputable being,
So hope is genuine, your faith is fulfilled,
Rejoice, the success you want is reality,
Vindicating the resourcefulness,
Of a sensible, positive, active mind.
I wish our team every blessing and success for this new era, starting with today's opening game against Australia in the T20 world cup!