Lankan cricketers having mixed fortunes

Elmo Rodrigopulle

28 July 1998

The Sri Lankan cricketers seem to be having mixed fortunes on their tour of England so far. This is apparent by the way they have been performing in their two county games.

Against Somerset they collapsed to recover and end on a promising note. Then they performed a similar act against Glamorgan although they lost inside two days after being shot out for 54 which was their lowest first class score in England.

They recovered admirably in the second innings and although the target they set the opponents was an easy one - 52 to win, managed to give their opponents a scare by capturing 5 wickets before the victory stroke was made.

Sri Lanka's recovery was initiated by the stylish and very correct Marvan Atapattu who was ably assisted by Tillekeratne and Chandana. Atapattu joined a rare breed of batsmen who have been out for 99. Atapattu's technique and his ability to get in line before executing the shot should help him against the moving ball and the fickle weather conditions prevailing.

It is encouraging to note that Tillekeratne is continuing the good form that he regained in South Africa. His career was on the line at one stage. But he surmounted all odds and wriggled back into form which is credit to him. One hopes he will continue to bat that way. His fielding is unquestionable and if he strikes runs then he is indispensible.

Leg spinning allrounder Upul Chandana seems to be settling in nicely. If he continues to perform he is sure to give headaches to the tour selectors who will find it hard to keep him out of the one-off test.

But what was amazing in the Glamorgan game was the excellent bowling of off spinning sensation Muttiah Muralitheran. Muralitheran is in a class of rare off spinners. On any wicket in any conditions he is a marvel.

In the game against Glamorgen he had a match bag of 10 wickets for 94 which was brilliant by any standards. He had 5 for 77 in the first and 5 for 17 in the second which prompted the home team captain Matthew Maynard the former England cricketer to comment that Muralitheran is an exceptionally brilliant bowler and is world class.

Having been in the game for long Maynard knows what he is talking about and as the tour progresses Muralitheran should continue to spin a web against the best of English batsmen and if the wicket and conditions are helpful to him could turn out to be a nightmare in the crucial test at the Oval.

At present he is on top of the CEAT rankings and it wouldn't be a surprise if he gets the honours at the end.

From reports reaching us the weather has not been kind to the Lankans. The unpredictable English weather seems to have carried the winter into mid year. However it is a good experience because the idea of this tour is to get acclimatised to the conditions and wickets because Sri Lanka will have to defend the world one day champion tag in that country next year.

The Lankans will be hoping for the sun on their backs when Test match time comes around next month.

It is a pity that the South African 'A' side is being continued to be dogged by the bad weather here. From the time they set foot they have hardly had any action out in the middle.

At the time of writing they have had a little play at Asgiriya in the Second Test but that has not been enough to show their true potential. Cricketers of the calibre of skipper Berkenstein, Crookes and Gibbs are players to watch and learn. They must be yearning to show their potential.

With El Nino giving way to La Nina, predictions are that Asian countries are going to be inundated with rain. Sri Lanka is probably suffering this turnaround in the weather pattern. But even otherwise this is rain time in SL and it is sad that it is interfering with the cricket.

We welcome to Sri Lanka along with the South African 'A' cricketers one of SA's most knowledgeable cricket writers in Mandela land Trevor Chesterfield. Chesterfield had been to Sri Lanka before with Cronje's team and is oozing with praise for the Lankan hospitality and what it has to offer to tourists.

Chesterfield was most helpful when we were covering the Sri Lanka team's tour early this year to SA. He is a storehouse of cricket knowledgeable and during his time was a more than ordinary leg spinner until his career was cut short by an unfortunate accident.

Source: The Daily News

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Date-stamped : 28 Jul1998 - 14:17