28th September 2009
SL vs. NZ – Champions Trophy
What a disappointing game of cricket. Our fate lies in England’s hands and if they beat NZ we make the semi finals. Do we deserve it? Does it matter? In my eyes a majority of the blame has to go the selectors and the captain.
Let’s start with team selection and the game against England. We talk strategy all the time, yet coming into the England game we came to a ground with a pitch with more grass than my backyard, yet stubbornly still go with Mendis and Murali. Murali goes for 60 off 10 overs. Now the other 4 bowlers go for a combined 146 off 35 overs (4.1 runs per over) yet none of them bowl out including Mathews 26 off 8 overs! I am not laying blame on Murali; everyone has bad days, but why persist with one on a bad day? The captain needs to step up. England was all at sea against the quicks. Thushara for Murali would have been an obvious choice for any sane selection team on this wicket. We were never going to win a game after being 4-14 and thanks to Kandamby and Mathews half centuries in yet another top performance by the new boys.
Moving on to last nights game, we come to one of the biggest run scoring grounds with the pitch having more pace and bounce than Usain Bolt! How do we respond in team selection – drop a spinner to bring in Thushara. Any common sense person would agree that taking the pace off the ball would have been the best medium for success on this track. Not SL! Well it proves to be so – best figures out of a mammoth NZ score of 315 were Sanath 3/39 off 10 overs and supported well by Mathews (2/33 off 6). They came on to bowl when NZ was 100+ off 16 overs and well set in. Mendis had a fair 0/49 off 9 overs. I cannot comprehend why Mathews was not used more? This is not the first time he has been under used. There is obviously an issue with the captain and Mathews.
Malinga get his allocated 10 overs for 85 runs – like the match against England with Murali, why persist with one having a bad day when you have other options? Thushara and Kulesekara go for 102 off 14 overs (more than 7) yet Mathews is cooling his heels waiting for a bowl. We were lucky to get anywhere close to the target – Mahela and Kumar should have gone at 0 – NZ dropped dolly catches. I love Thilan Samaraweera but to see Chamara Kapugedara as a reserve for all 3 games is dumbfounding!
We have the players, balance and team to win. Unfortunately we don’t have the selectors or the captain to get the job done. SL has the most number of officials on tour – obviously the selection table is getting messy. Most disappointing has been the captaincy of Sangakkara who was the most eagerly awaited captain in the history of SL cricket. While he sounds like a million dollars on the microphone and gets a lot of pats on the backs from a lot of people, it is time to get real. As a captain taking constructive criticism for bad performance should come with the territory. Yet at the post game Sangakarra focused on the fielding! I am lost for words. I think it’s time for Kumar to listen to some MJ music. He can start with one of my recommendations ………… ‘Man in the Mirror’!
Upekha De Alwis