Sports Comment: Real cricket comes alive

By Elmo Rodrigopulle

Wednesday 11, September 1996

Now that the Sri Lankan cricketers have underlined their superiority in the 'cowboy game' with a virtuoso performance to clinch the Singer World Series competition, beginning Wednesday will be what the game is all about - TEST CRICKET - when they take on Zimbabwe in the first of two tests at the R. Premadasa Stadium.

While the one-day game brings in the shekels and packs in the spectators and the players too benefit, Test cricket has been what the game is all about and it will be interesting to see how our cricketers will perform in this form of game.

Every aspect of the one-day game changes when it comes to the longer duration of the game. Technique, temperament and mentality changes and it is an altogether a different game.

The coloured pyjamas, white ball and black sight screens all are put away and the red ball, cream flannels and white screens come alive signalling TEST CRICKET.

Now that the Lankans are one-day kings, their next big hit must be to wear the crown as kings of Test cricket. The confidence gained in being one-day champions, should rub off on them and nothing short of convincing victories in the two tests will be of any significance.

Former president of the cricket Board Ana Punchihewa targeted the year 2000 for Sri Lanka to be the best in test cricket. Indications of this being a reality was somewhat proved when we had our first teste win against New Zealand in NZ, followed by victories against Pakistan.

The two Tests against Zimbabwe will prove whether we are heading for the target or not.

The Zimbabweans although they did not seem to be versed in the one-day game, will be different opposition from Wednesday. In the previous three Test series played in Zimbabwe they did well to stall the Lankans in their attempt to win, and will be equally determined not to lose away from home.

They have some exciting batsmen led by skipper Alistair Campbell who is stylish and who can take any attack apart when in the groove. His nimble footwork and exquisite strokeplay are lovely to watch and I can vouch for this because I saw him play some fine innings against us, when we were last in Zimbabwe.

The Flower brothers, Andy and Grant can also be devastating when in full bloom. They have good supporting batsmen in Wishart, Evans and Wittal. If they click, then it will be a big ask for the Lankans.

Heath Streak will be their spearhead. But the paceman to watch will be Henry Olanga who looks every inch like a West Indian tearaway. In the SWSC game against Sri Lanka he showed tremendous pace, bounce and movement and our openers Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharane found him really quick. If he drops into a line and length he will be difficult to negotiate. Leg spinner Paul Strang could also be a teasing bowler.

Sri Lanka will have everything to their advantage. How they make use of it and whether they could outthink and outplay the visitors will be interesting to watch.

Skipper Arjuna Ranatunga has taken Sri Lanka to the pinnacle of one-day cricket and he has it in him to do similarly in the established game. What he must tell his men is to believe in themselves and then success will follow naturally.

The weather has suddenly turned fickle and at the time of writing indications are that the rainy spells will continue which is not the weather that cricket needs and looks for.

All the best to both teams and may the better side triumph.

Source: The Daily News

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 15:05