Past Performances Cries For a World Cup Spot – But Does He Deserve it?

Upul Tharanga as you all will agree is a talented, experienced and dominating batsman when he gets going. How could we forget his best innings? There’s his 174 against India, 202 run partnership with Mahela against Pakistan in 2009. Then there are devastating partnerships between him and the great Sanath Jayasuriya. Have we all forgotten those? No, a true fan will remember those.

I mean I rewatched that insane partnership with Sanath Jayasuriya against England in 2006 with absolute awe. Yeah, I rewatched it many times, as recently as a month ago. We only got old videos like this to satisfy our cricket craziness.

The Sri Lankan team is looking for a solid opening pair for ages. We have tried so many players it’s ridiculous. A player like Upul Tharanga should be an automatic choice considering all the players we’ve tried.

Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilake, Dhananjaya De Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Avishka Fernando. There’s probably more, that I’ve missed. Clearly, someone like Upul Tharanga with his talent and experience will fit in nicely at the top. Yeah, I would agree to that as well.

Fans of him have lots of stats to show. Like these:

2009:  13 in /523 r/ 40 Av/1 X 100 – 4 X 50 – UT was dropped for 6 months – due to 2-Odis lean-period in Jan.

2010:   22 in /707 r/ 37 Av /1 x 100*-5 x 50 – dropped again for 5 months – due to 2-Odis lean-period in Jan, despite scoring 100*+.

2011:  21 in /826 r/ 46 Av /4 x 100 -2 x 50

2012:  26 in /752 r/ 30 Av / 8 x 50

2013:  11 in/287 r/ 28 Av – 1 x 100

2014:  Just 5 Random innings months apart / 111 r/ 22 Av (seems like a deliberate move to tarnish his record, without providing any substantial window to settle)

2015:  Just 4 Random innings months apart / 68 r / 17 Av (seems like a deliberate move to tarnish his record without providing any substantial window to settle)

2016: 10 in/ 214 r/31 Av – 2 x 50   (sending to bat all over from No 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 in the tail)

2017: 25 in/ 1,011 r/ 48 Av – 2 x 100 – 6 x 50  ( First decent opportunity with consecutive matches he got after facing 5yrs of virtual pause of his career – He got back his regular spot to open 4.5 yrs) Most productive year of his entire career.

Then there are screenshots:

These are all great. But it’s missing the bigger picture.

But, can we really say that he really stood up in this tough time with all our experienced batsmen retired and the next best batsman Angelo Mathews injured every other day?

Some say we give chances to tried and failed players like Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella at the top. Yes, that’s true. These players have failed to grab that opening spot over and over again.

But so has Upul Tharanga.

If the players that we tried above failed for 14 years. I would write like this on them just as I’m doing for Upul Tharanga.

How many world cups have these above players played? How many champions trophies? How many Asia Cups? How many Bilateral Series? How many overseas tours?

Definitely less than Upul Tharanga.

I have no agenda. I’m not against Upul Tharanga. Even now when he is selected and plays, I have my fingers crossed and hope the Tharanga we know and love will stand up. I hope he cements his spot in the final IX in every tour. In the future, if he gets selected to play I will continue to support him.

But we have to be honest with ourselves. I have my favorite players but a player is as valuable as the contributions he makes.

I am a HUGE fan of Sanath Jayasuriya. When he was dropped from the team a few times, I was really upset.

Many were upset. Because we all knew how devastating he is when he bats.

But, each time he came back to the SL IX, he performed and cemented his spot. Fans didn’t have to write blog posts over and over again. Some might have. I certainly didn’t. But that’s not what cemented his spot.

SJ walked into the team and performed. His 2006 England tour and those partnerships with Tharanga was after he was dropped and recalled.

We also have another example of Lasith Malinga. He was dropped due to his fitness and performance. But I would also argue at the time he was dropped, players were dropping catches off his bowling almost every game.

Malinga is not the same as the old Malinga. But as we can still see he is still better than or at least at level with the next best bowler in the Sri Lankan team.

So, what am I trying to say? Players will always have ups as well as downs in their carrier. But a great player will/should walk into the IX and perform.

Upul Tharanga will perform in the domestic tournaments. I would even bet my money that in the current 2019 Premier tournament organized by the SLC, before the world cup – He will make a ton of runs. And some people will ask why he’s not in the team. Maybe I would agree too, considering we need experienced players in the team for the world cup. It will be his last hoorah.

Unfortunately, Upul Tharanga, when selected in the national team, makes 50’s and 100’s against teams like Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe or the odd game at home against a better team. But that’s where it ends. He hasn’t stood up when we really needed him to perform against better opposition and crucial must-win games for the last few years.

He performs in the domestic tournaments and against lesser ODI teams. But finds himself dropped more than I can remember to count when the going gets tough.

Watching Upul Tharanga carrier is like an F1 race car going in circles. He performs in domestic, gets picked, gets dropped.

And repeat.

Maybe we need to stop this cycle that’s been going for 14 years, ending the Upul Tharanga saga.

Hopefully, I don’t have to write like this about his replacement in another 14 years. Because I will. If he ends up being another Upul Tharanga.

5 Comments

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  1. Since The 90s, I too agree with all your comments. Well said. I too posted (two weeks back) similar comments on Upul Tharanga’s current form which is pathetic. But since I am a newbie to this forum ((only 3 weeks) some members criticized my blog badly and even they were so crude to call the information that I have provided as Bogus & Fage Facts (which was taken from Cricinfo Statguru). I told them to consider Tharang’s recent performances only (last 12 months) but none of them are willing to accept my argument. They are still producing Tharanga’s old records and the facts on his past glory.

    In my opinion Tharanga should not be in the WC squad.due to the following facts all taken from Cricinfo Statguru Statistics)

    (1) His most recent form as an opening batsman is appalling to note (for the period:of last 12 months, Average: 15.5, No half century in his last 12 innings, His av SR is only 84% and that is noway close to a mean SR of at least.95 -100% required when compared with the strength of opening batsmen from other countries..

    (2) His current form as shown in the last 3 innings in SA is still the worst. He is sitting in the table at 13 th position (even below Malinga) scoring 15 runs at an average of 5.00 with a SR of 60%). Do you think that he deserve any chance to be in our WC squad?

    Decision is with our selectors, and I hope our members will forget all their personal agendas but look into the current form of any player based on the current performing strength when making comments on our WC probables.

  2. Thanks for that Lord Mike. This was my first blog here. I’ve been lurking on IslandCricket for few years without really commenting or writing articles. Thought I would write one and see how it goes 🙂

    Susantha: You’ll have a hard time convincing others who are not open minded and unwilling to think about another persons view. This apply to life in general not just cricket.

    Best way is to write honest, non-attacking articles. At the end of the day its an opinion. And everyone has their own. If you write well and the majority of readers will be inspired.

    You cant get everyone to agree with you. Even if you’re 100% right. Thats the way it is.

  3. You have said;
    “Unfortunately, Upul Tharanga, when selected in the national team, makes 50’s and 100’s against teams like Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe or the odd game at home against a better team. But that’s where it ends. He hasn’t stood up when we really needed him to perform against better opposition and crucial must-win games for the last few years”

    Now look how false the above statement is : 10 of UT’s 15 Hundreds were Vs SA -1 /En -3 /Pk-1 /Aus-1 / Nz-1 / Ind-2 / WI-1 and Two of those Tons (vs SA & Pk in away series) were scored within his last 28 innings.

    25 of his 37 x 50+ were scored Vs ( SA- 3 / Eng- 3 / Aus – 3 / Nz- 5 / Ind – 6 / Pk- 5 )

    These include 2 WC x100s + 4x 50+ / 2 ICC-CT x 100s & 2 x 50+ from 28 innings.!

    It is sad to see unreal, blind comments such as the above appear in these forums, while preaching to others about being open minded & unwillingness to think about other persons’ views. Also, talk big about the importance of looking at the big picture, while completely ignoring the frequency of unique harassment this guy had to overcome repeatedly during last 5yrs (more than repeated 10 axing episodes lasted from months to years without exposure, based on brief dips in form – common to every batter- ranging from 1 to 10 innings, spread of over months to years as seen during the last 11 innings spread over 15 months since his last 50+ in Jan 2018).

    Ultimately as clearly evident from the effects of the systematic disruption crumbled to the evil forces relentlessly tried to end his career prematurely , because he is not made out of a steel to withstand it any more (seniority, experience,true abilities are all secondary to enormous ignominy, constant nonrecognition, condemnation in terms of diverging the repeated axe just on a SOLITARY inning allowed after 5 months layoff without international exposure, preferring a 20yr old rookie over a man who had scored 7k runs for SL & the most number of runs @ 37 Av – most number of 50+ (9) including highest number of 100+ (2) scores during past couple of years….. have any of you guys ever thought about benching such a senior pro to carry drinks for the next couple of decisive games in the series… relying more on a debutante rookie would have done to any person in his position, even with the most toughest mental strength to resist some third class mind games aiming to totally shatter confidence & dignity of a person…. ? Nope..! A man who dictated terms to the same bowlers in Capetown SA blasting them away to all corners of the park making a 90 ball 119 @ 132 SR with 11 x 4s & 7 x 6s, just a couple of year ago was clearly reduced to a mindless poor sole struggling to recollect his focus in the middle…. that was the sad end we saw from UT, thanks to the eccentric evil forces systematically succeeded to accomplished their goal at last.

    Sadly we clearly saw it from mentally maimed UT’s last 2 international innings of his totally suppressed, but productive overall career yielded the most number of centuries from the least number of innings & being the quickest OR among the top two quickest in SL ODIs yielding every thousand run mile stone, up to his 7k fell short of a few more runs.

    Now Delighted backers of such evil acts with different agendas are screaming & demanding Tharanga should never ever play for SL again.

    The tone & phrases of demand itself shows their evil motives to make room for totally undeserved, unearned World Cup spot grabber/stealer like Dimuth Karunarathne (13 ings – 193 runs @ 15 Av – 68 SR ) to be parachuted again as ODI OPENER & SKIPPER too, repeat the same crime as in 2015 WC. He was just a paid tourist carrying heavy baggage in last WC & it won’t be any different if selected this time as well, with the pure blessings of Divine powers looking after SL cricket today.

    @ Susantha talks about UT’s appalling form in last 12 ings reducing further down than actual to 15 Av & cutting off his 50+ score as well. But FYI, UT’s actual last 12 ings – 227 @ 19 Av – 1 x 50+

    As most of mono-focal critics don’t even consider at least the 12 months innings prior to that brief lean patch in UT’s case, totally discarding/rejecting them as old, Now look & compare how abysmally failed the nominated new ODI skipper for the 2019 WC Dimuth Karunarathne’s, even in his own specialty of Test cricket during his last 11 Test inngs – 197 runs @ 17 Av – 1 x 50+

    Base on that lean patch,(even worse than UT’s in relatively higher Av demanded Test arena) despite facing no mental pressure of axing enforced on him like UT’s case of getting the axe twice….

    But instead of getting a double Axing like Tharanga experienced in his lean patch of 12 innings, this Divine blessed lucky guy get a double promotion to cross over in to an unfamiliar territory of ODIs, even without bare minimum credentials, zero proven ability & performances in that format even to earn a spot as 12th man or standby , let alone the captaincy. This Dimuth guy got lucky to win the SA Test series thanks to an incredible inning of KJP & the die hard efforts of bowlers. What did this Dimuth guy do as Opening batter & skipper to lead the side from front? Collecting 86 runs @ 21 Av from 4 test innings?

    HOW do you explain this on going monkey business?

    SL ODI cricket will never recover as long as this kind of mentality prevails. Whether we like it or not, that is the factual bottom line of this whole saga.

  4. Pinidiya, I was thinking If I should reply to your comment or not. Your comment itself can be considered a blog post.

    Since you talked about Dimuth Karunaratne and his average in ODI’s. If Dimuth had 14 years to play maybe he would have a better average and more 100’s. Upul Tharanga’s last year’s performance in 17 ODI’s is 319 runs at 21.26 Average. Does that make what Tharanga achieved bad? Clearly, that doesn’t stop you from supporting him.

    So maybe think that if people say let’s try Dimuth, It’s not to attack Upul Tharanga.

    “Not that I want him in ODI’s or as captain for the world cup, but if he’s selected to do that job I’ll support him. Just like I would support any player in the final IX”

    I wouldn’t call what you wrote wrong, because It’s an opinion just like mine. But you are not going to convince anyone new by attacking people. Calling people blind for not sharing your view is uncalled for.

    I see videos on youtube all the time by vegans, going into restaurants carrying their banners and shouting and swearing at people eating meat. Some make Youtube videos attacking non-vegetarians. Does that make a non-vegetarian think about not eating meat? they’d probably get annoyed for not having peace and quiet to eat the meal they paid for. The vegans have a point. And It’s not wrong. Non-vegetarians say humans have always eaten meat and it’s not wrong either.

    I say this because I feel you attack anyone not backing your beliefs. Sometimes it’s OK, to have a different view.

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