Make or break tour for Dilshan
The Sri Lankans left for a cricketing safari to hunt down the South
Africans who will not be easy prey, in a Three Test and Five one-day
international series with the First Test beginning at the picturesque SuperSport Park in Pretoria on December 15.
If what transpired at the meeting with the Minister of Sport, senior
players and the selectors is to be believed, where all differences were
ironed out, then the tour of South Africa should end in a long awaited
The excuses trotted out for the failure against England, Australia
and Pakistan was that the men concerned were working in different
compartments and as such the team was not performing as one strike
Oozing with confidence
So now as the squad took wing oozing with confidence, nothing short
of victory in the Three Test matches and the Five one-dayers will do. In
the least there should be a gallant showing of our talents and our
ability to bounce back. Another thrashing and our cricket will be in an
abyss and the future in jeopardy.
On return no excuses trotted out, however good, will be acceptable.
So the cricketers who front up to the South Africans will have to
play from out of their skins and perform in every game.
The South Africans led by Graeme Smith are quite a formidable side
and playing at home and in conditions and wickets favourable to them
will want to devour the Lankans and make amends for not being able to
beat the Australians.
While every South African will be a formidable opponent, a man who
will look larger than life will be their new find Vernon Philander.
Philander had a dream run against the Aussies, baffling and luring the
batsmen to their demise, The strongly built Philander when he runs in to
deliver, brings back memories of the great West Indian pacemen of the
70s and 80s who had batsmen cringing and shying away from facing their
Philander rocked the Aussies and will be determined to add to his
stature as an emerging genius who can also bat and turn out into being a
terrific all rounder in the modern game.
This tour will be of special importance and significance for skipper
Tillakaratne Dilshan. From the time he took on the onerous duties as
captain, his form with the bat, barring the big score he made against
England at Lord’s has been dismal.
Also with a hat trick of losses against England, Australia and
Pakistan his captaincy has come under the microscope of some of the
cricketing critics with some of them baying for his blood.
At the moment his problem is that he is between two worlds. He is
unsure where to bat - whether to open or bat in the middle. As captain
he should have been in the frontline opening and leading by example as
he did in the not too distant past.
Some bright spark put it into his head to bat in the middle and with
it started all his woes. This is still continuing and it is hoped that
he will settle down during the South African tour and be among the runs
which will raise his confidence that will rub off on the team.
Another failure and it will be curtains for him and the selectors
will not be faulted if they shop for another captain. And the selectors
need not go on a shopping spree because they have a readymade one in
former captain Mahela Jayawardena.
Jayawardena, after being unceremoniously dumped for no fault of his,
showed the sport in him by agreeing to step into the boots of vice
captain when the selectors and the country needed his soothing
For Jayawardena captaincy is not the be all and end all. From the
time he sported the national cap he has been performing, more for the
game and country than self.
He made the national team when he was just out of school and flew
into South Africa as a replacement under the captaincy of Arjuna
Ranatunga. I was one of them who greeted him and wished him success
because I was there covering that tour for the ‘Daily News’ and the
From that tour his rise was phenomenal. His graceful and elegant
batting blossomed and the honour of leading the country, the wish of
every sportsman and sportswoman, was not long in coming.
Caribbean WC final
After having the honour and enjoying the moment when he took Sri
Lanka to the World Cup final in the Caribbean in 2007 and where Sri
Lanka would have won the Cup for the second time, it was the squash ball
in the batting glove of Adam Gilchrist who smashed a devastating 149
that deprived him of proudly holding up the cup for the world to see.
When there was a controversy regarding Gilchrist’s action and when
asked, Jayawardena said that he admired that blistering knock by
Gilchrist and had no questions or qualms about that knock. That was
great of Jayawardena and shows what a fine sportsman he is.
But a sudden dip in form during a one-day series against India at
home saw his frustrated critics win, albeit temporarily. You can never
hold down a good man.
Lacking the guts
With the men administering the game at that time not having the guts
and the back bone to stand by Jayawardena, not wanting to be dragged
into the scum Jayawardena gracefully stepped down from captaincy.
And retribution was not long in coming and it came with compound
interest and Sri Lanka cricket is still wandering aimlessly and
struggling to find a leader with the charm, elegance, clever brain and
diplomatic skills in the rare mould of Jayawardena to take Sri Lanka
cricket to use a biblical term, to the promised land that it was once
Knowing that the muddy street that the game is in, if asked
Jayawardena will not hesitate to take over the captaincy and make every
endeavour straining every nerve and sinew to take the game to the top
Let’s wait for the outcome the South African tour and then watch
whether the selectors will not fear and have the guts to ask Mahela
Jayawardena back into the saddle.