Lankan cricketers gain in confidence

Elmo Rodrigopulle

11 August 1998

The Sri Lankan cricketers must certainly have gained in confidence to front up to South Africa and England in the triangular series due to start on Friday after their good victories over Northamptonshire in two one-dayers on Friday and Sunday.

The Lankan batting has been middling it well and scoring, though the ineptness in the bowling has still to find a cure. Only off spinner Muralidaran has obliged his side and bowled them to victory, while the same cannot be said of the supporting bowlers.

Of encouragement to the Lankan camp must be the return to batting form of left hander Sanath Jayasuriya. Jayasuriya's batting has not been what it used to be in recent times.

A batsman of Jayasuriya's calibre cannot afford to be in batting quicksand for long. He has it in him to fight his way back and be among the runs which he is usually accustomed to.

Thankfully he has shed his habit of adjusting his attire while the bowler is on his way. This habit did not allow him time to watch the bowler approaching. But now having shed this habit, he has ample time to watch the bowler and play him accordingly.

Jayasuriya is one of those rare batsmen who likes to lean into the bowling from the first ball. What he did to Indian allrounder Manoj Prabhakar where he hit him not only out of the attack but out of the Indian team and out of the game as well is still vivid in our minds.

The century that Jayasuriya took off the Northants bowlers in the second game should give him the confidence to take strike against the likes of Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Nitini and MacMillan of South Africa and Darren Gough and Angus Fraser of England.

Kaluwitharne, Aravinda de Silva, Marvan Atapattu, Ranatunga and Arnold are all in the runs and it is hoped that Hathurusinghe who is likely to play in the one-dayers, Chandana and Dharmasena also get among the runs so that Sri Lanka can build a formidable total and allow their depleted attack a little leeway to bundle their opponents out.

With only Muralidaran to be relied on to contain the opponents batting, it is paramount that the Lankans run up big totals. Not to do so would mean to allow the opponents a meagre total which would not be sufficient for 'Murali' to get his act going. In limited over cricket he is allowed only 10 overs.

South Africa who lost the final test and the series 2-1 to England must certainly be like wounded tigers waiting to pounce and devour not only the Lankans but also the Englishmen who made them pocket their cricketing pride.

Menacing bowlers such as Pollock, McMillan, Nitini and Kallis must have been psyched to bomb the opposing batsmen. But if the Lankan batsmen do not lose their cool but play as they are used to then the bowlers could be tamed and scored off.

The Lankans who were humiliated in South Africa must ask nor give any quarter. They must endeavour to take control from the first ball and not let up till the final ball is delivered.

England on Sunday will be a side oozing with confidence now that they made the Proteas eat humble pie in the test series. When the awesome South africans arrived in England no one gave England a chance.

England were in cricket's wilderness what with a new captain and the team not settled. But under Alec Stewart they have risen phoenix like from the ashes and have proved that it will not be long before they regain their cricketing excellence like in the eras gone by, when they were top dogs in the established game.

Atherton the former skipper, Butcher, Hussain, the skipper and Ramprakash have been in the runs when it matters and bowlers like Gough, Fraser and Cork have responded well by bowling threateningly.

Coloured clothing will be seen for the first time in England in this 'cowboy game' and with each team playing the other only once, the cricket, the excitement and the feeling will be at its zenith and the team doing the necessities that this type of game requires will definitely come out on top and pocket the prize money of 15,000 pounds and a hand-crafted silver and gilt model of a dhow from Emirates Airlines in their first cricket sponsorship.

Emirates are also one of the sponsors for the World Cup in England next year.

Ceylinco sponsored Sri Lanka's 'cheering ambassador' Lionel Nawaragodagedera will be there to shout encouragement to the cricketers and he will have support from the large Sri Lankan contingent that will flock all venues of play.

Source: The Daily News

Contributed by CricInfo Management

Date-stamped : 11 Aug1998 - 10:33