Going into the unknown with the unknown

After the scare in Galle, drastic changes have been made. The bowlers, they say, are to blame. Prasad and Thushara are made the scapegoats. In comes Nuwan Kulasekara and a virtual unknown Shaminda Eranga.

After the end of day five, all Sangakkara could talk about was how, in the Windies first innings, his bowlers didn’t stick to "the plan".

I would like to respectfully remind Sangakkara here that he failed with the bat in the first innings and the second (throwing his wicket away by playing irresponsibly) and if "the plan" isn’t working and the opposition are 100/0, you are the captain – change the plan!

So now we have Kulasekara (a good choice), Suranga Lakmal (thrown in cold) and Eranga who has played just a handful of first class games with a ‘not-so-impressive’ average drafted in days before the Test.

Why Eranga? Who knows? I hear that he may not even get selected. If that’s the case, why not pick some guy off the street and include him the third Test squad? Why not pick me??

The following is what Sangakkara told reporters after day five:

"We were pretty wary about what the West Indies could do. The only thing is our attitude in the first two sessions was a bit wanting. The first six overs were okay although we didn’t make the batsman play too much. But after that I thought the lines and the lengths we bowled on this track was not good enough for us to put any pressure on them either to get wickets, or to cut down on runs. Chris took a lot of advantage from that and he batted magnificently."

Nevermind that the naw ball was reaching the keeper at ankle height on some occasions. It’s best not to be critical of the wicket right, Sanga?

It’s time we cut the bowlers some slack and accept that our captain speaks well enough to be a politician.

Gayle struggled against us for years and the moment he came across a team Sangakkara captained, he plundered over 300 runs. It’s the same story we saw in India last year, cricket fans. Sehwag and Co. plundered our hapless bowling then and it continues to happen today.

The Sri Lankan selectors went in with an inexperienced unit in Galle – which I pointed out in my last Blog (it drew a lot of criticism) – and on a placid wicket which offered no assistance, the bowlers suffered. Then, Sangakkara could not take control of his bowling unit and work out an alternate plan when it got tough to get a wicket. That’s what really happened.

When it was our turn to bat, the entire top order including the captain should take much of the blame for not piling on the runs as the Windies had. But that appears to be excusable. When Jayawardene and Sangakkara fail, we must overlook those failures because they are the best we have, right?

I hope you are keeping up with my cynical tone here.

What tops things off for me this week is to hear Aravinda de Silva – Chairman of Selectors – say this:

"Most of them don’t want to play in a Test match but want to restrict themselves to playing fifty-over and T20 cricket," he said. "Some of them cannot play back-to-back Test matches. This is something unheard of in the past. In Malinga’s case we have even promoted him to the top category in the player contracts, but he is not fit enough to play Test cricket."

I still remember the outrage when we first heard that Malinga was awarded a contract that was a grade lower than what Angelo Mathews had been awarded; little did we know that he couldn’t play Test cricket or does not want to play Tests.

It is also hard to understand what exactly de Silva is saying in the above. Are there players who don’t want to play Tests for Sri Lanka but want to play T20s and ODIs? Who are they? Is Malinga one of them? Does he not want to play Tests? So many unanswered questions. But disgusting nevertheless.

In my opinion, the ICC must now intervene and put an end to these lucrative T20 leagues that are drawing players away from Test cricket. We saw what it did to the West Indies? They now have players declining national contracts to be available to play league cricket instead of representing their nation. If the ICC does not make tough decisions now, the end of Test cricket is near.

Sri Lanka go into the third Test now not only with an unknown Eranga and a Lakmal who will be making his Test debut, but they also head into the next Test not knowing how the surface will play. The wicket in Khettarama is a total mystery to the home side. With that, goes the home advantage.

The Sri Lankan captain said he had no idea what the wicket at the Premadasa would hold.

"We really don’t know what we’re going to get there, so we’ll leave that up to the groundsman, and have a look when we train. We’re also waiting to see what the wicket will be like."

Scary, isn’t it? They couldn’t take the skipper a few days before the Windies arrived to have a look at the tracks in Pallekkele and Khettarama? Scary, but typical of how things in Sri Lanka work.

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