World Cup 2003 saw...
curtain of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 comes down today with the
big battle for supremacy between Australia and India at the Wanderers
in Johannesburg. This year's competition that featured 14 cricketing
nations, was crammed with agonies, ecstasies, thrills and spills that
surely must have kept every cricket fan at the edge of their seat. The
eighth Cricket World Cup in South Africa, without question, will
linger in the memory of the enthusiasts of the game, as a result of
the shocking experience they must have had in witnessing, many a
powerful king in the cricket arena becoming 'clown.'
'king pin,' the host nation, South Africa, England, Pakistan and West
Indies were all knocked out in the first round itself. New Zealand had
to bow out at the Super Six stage. The 1996 world champions, Sri
Lanka, had already touched their 'Green Green Grass Of Home' despite
the golden opportunity they had in securing a berth in the grand final
today. Kenya, yet sans Test status surprised one and all by pushing
their way to semifinals, beating Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in the
current world champions, Australia, with 10 comprehensive victories in
this year's World Cup, has proved their supremacy and without a shadow
of doubt, are the firm favourites to pocket the prestigious Cricket
World Cup for a second consecutive time. But one must not
underestimate the Indians. After a shaky start in the first round, the
team rallied round admirably to assure their deserving place in the
the wicket at the Wanderers is predicted to be a fast one, India's
inform batsmen of the calibre of the little 'maestro' Sachin Tendulkar,
skipper Saurav Ganguly, Shewag, Kaif and Dravid are more than capable
of handling any venomous attack. True, Brett Lee, Glen McGrath, Andrew
Bitchel and Harvey have been the nuclear force who had been
instrumental in guiding the Aussies to 10 successive triumphs in this
year's tournament inspite of a couple of poor totals that they had to
defend. If India exploit the Aussies weakness in tackling spin and if
they are blessed with the opportunity of batting first, collect 250
runs and entire India can toast champagne as they will own the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003.
post-mortem can only determine the cause of death. But it cannot
resurrect the dead. The reason for Sri Lanka's failure to reach the
final is quite obvious. Can any strong unit with half its side stone
dead make their presence felt in a World Cup competition, leaving
alone, reaching the final. One must applaud the Lankan captain, Sanath
Jayasuriya for guiding his half crippled outfit into the semifinals.
soldiers never die
above phrase was proved correct in South Africa. If not for the Lankan
heroes of the 1996 World Cup, namely, Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de
Silva, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan, Marvon Atapattu and Hashan
Tillekeratne, Sri Lanka too, certainly, would have been nudged out of
the very first round. The young blood that was infused to the team was
only a burden to the Lankan skipper.
silly suggestion of the chairman of the BCCSL selection committee,
that Sanath Jayasuriya must decide whether to carry on as captain or
step down and concentrate more on his performance, only proves that
this so called chairman of the selection committee is definitely nuts.
I do not regret a bit for calling this individual 'the Nutty
Professor' in an earlier article. After Arjuna Ranatunga's grand stint
at the helm of the national squad, Sanath Jayasuriya as captain, had
done exceptionally well to keep the lion flag fluttering in pride with
many a Test and ODI triumph to his credit. His record of beating every
nation affiliated to ICC barring New Zealand, in his very first
assignment as captain against them in the Test arena, speaks volumes
for his capabilities as a leader. Even in this World Cup, he came up
with a superb allround performance to guide a side who were rated as
minnows to the semifinal stage.
is not the Lankan skipper who should be axed. It will do a world of
good to Sri Lanka cricket if the Minister of Sports make it his
business to axe the current set of selectors and choose a knowledgable
lot to do a proper job. Why should Sanath Jayasuriya suffer for the
sins of a silly bunch of selectors who were not efficient enough to
select the correct combination for a World Cup competition?
Senaratne (Royal) and Lahiru Peiris (St. Peter's) have been a great
hit at Carey Grammar School in Kew. Their performances so far have
carried Carey through a winning streak. Sukitha has a batting average
of 43.0 so far and has taken one wicket. Lahiru has a batting average
of 76.25 and has taken four wickets. They have been free of any
injuries and have played for Carey in every match since they got here
and Kumari Somaratne of Ferntree Gully have looked after Sukitha -
Dilip is an old boy from Royal. Dawn and Winston Foenander (St.
Peter's) of Keysborough have played host to Lahiru whenever he has
both played for their respective old boys cricket associations during
the six-a-side tournament conducted at the Kandy Cricket Club grounds
during the Australia Day weekend. St. Peter's old boys won that
competition with the assistance of Lahiru.
have stayed with families from the Carey network and will return to
Colombo in the second week of April.
have been so pleased with their talents and good behaviour - that they
will consider offering the same scholarship next year. They have
studied Year 11 subjects such as Physics, Chemistry and Mathemetics.
Their school books and school uniforms have been provided by Carey.
Mahanama from the Sri Lanka Cricketers' Association assisted with the
final selections. Roshan did make the comment that the talent of the
boys he interviewed and observed was stunning. It was unfortunate that
some very deserving candidates did miss out.
hope the boys associations in Melbourne will again assist us by
publicasing the scholarship with their schools when it is offered
again next year. The boys need to have a good command of English and
study in Year 11 (age about 16-17). Carey offers a wide selection of
subjects in Year 11 and 12.
Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria is grateful to the ex-Sri
Lankan community in Melbourne for the hospitality and kindness
extended to these two fine ambassadors for their country. We hope
Lahiru and Sukitha will one day represent Sri Lanka at the highest
level," Writes Dr. Quintus L. de Zylva.
played boys, but shouldn't
it have been better?
warm welcome to the Sri Lankan team! A side, which most observers
felt, including myself, would be lucky to get past the first round in
the World Cup 2003, reached the semi-finals, and wasn't that great?
Strangely the consensus of opinion is 'No'! Remember, Kenya benefiting
no doubt from a bit of luck - didn't Sri Lanka too have similar luck
on forfeitures in 1996? - and whilst being a non-Test playing nation
beat Sri Lanka and entered the semi-finals as the third team quite
comfortably while we scraped through to fourth place by the skin of
our teeth? Many are the fingers being pointed at some of the players
and the administration in general.
the middle-order batsmen, and the administrators for a series of
blunders which have been enumerated times without number and now too
painful to recall.
the wake of the sacking of captains Shaun Pollock and Waqar Younis,
Jayasuriya too maybe feeling "uneasy is the head that wears the
crown." Ironic isn't it after the team ended up amongst the first
four in the tournament? Why? Well for one, it is the fickle nature of
One-day cricket and for another it was the doctored pitches that
suited our players whilst not forgetting the sterling and consistent
performances of a few players such as Chaminda Vaas, Marvan Atapattu,
Sanath Jayasuriya and Muttiah Muralitharan. When a batsman of the
calibre of Mahela Jayawardena scores a mere 21 runs in 7 visits to the
crease, obviously there is a gaping hole in the batting. Whilst Vaas
was bowling his heart out from one end and finishing up with a record
haul of 23 wickets, where was the support from the other end? You do
not look for support when in South Africa.
should have been sorted out long before. That is where cricket
expertise is called for. Jayasuriya must have indeed been at his wit's
end unlike (say) Australia's Ricky Ponting who had replacements as
good as the original! I would be failing in my duty if I do not say
"Well played" to Aravinda de Silva. A magnificent batsman
who played a stellar role with great aplomb for almost a decade and
stood heads and shoulders over most of his mates.
as vultures hover over carrion, there will be many who will offer
their services for the "betterment of cricket in Sri Lanka"
now that there is a crisis. It is the majority opinion that the word
'Interim' smells foul being not only inept but also not interim.
Already intrigue is at hand. Recently it was brought to my notice,
whilst being away from the country, about a news report published in
the local newspapers stating that two senior national players were
financially duped by a former unsuccessful aspirant to the Cricket
Board Presidency on a land deal in Australia.
spice to the story was the players' lives would be threatened if they
spilled the beans. Absolute James Bond stuff? No, this is closer to
Baron Munchausen's rock-splitting yarns. Absolute balderdash. In fact,
the aggrieved party has written, I understand, both to the Prime
Minister and to his club requesting for an independent inquiry on this
matter. Let's hope that clears the air. This is simply not cricket.
back to cricket. Just as Arjuna Ranatunga lost his crown after the
disastrous World Cup in 1999, will the same fate befall Jayasuriya
now? In mitigation, one can plead that Jayasuriya fared better both as
a player and as a leader than Ranatunga. After all, Sri Lanka ended in
the first four, and one does not suddenly get up in the morning and
find oneself in the semi-finals. Beating New Zealand, West Indies,
Zimbabwe and level-pegging with South Africa are no easy feats. No,
begin at the beginning. Before dealing with the players, short-shrift
must be made of the administrators who were not only responsible for
recommending crucial appointments which turned sour ranging from
selectors to coaches but also taking certain policy decisions which on
occasion were clearly bordering on conflict of (business and personal)
interests. Clear the decks and make room for competent new hands.
understand that the all-important Cricket Academy is to be
inaugurated. This would be the crucible from where future Sri Lankan
cricketers will be cast. Can these same administrators be given the
responsibility of planning and manning such an important institution?
As the pithy Sinhala saying goes: The donkey should not try to do the
dog's job. Or, are we to carry on the accepted Sri Lankan tradition
of: "What matters is whom you know and not what you know?"
Sad. Very sad indeed.
captain or not to
- your call, Sonna
this the moment to contemplate a change in the leadership of Sri Lanka
cricket? The country's overall World Cup performance Cup was
unexceptional and the meekness with which the batting surrendered in
Tuesday's semifinal, truly saddening. So, present emotions are not
likely to be partial to the incumbent.
would seem unfair by Sanath Jayasuriya. His records, after all, show
he is the country's most successful captain. But sentiments and
history don't a perfect captain make.
reflect on his four-year tenure at this point wouldn't out of order.
Given the reins in the aftermath of the 1999 World Cup shamble,
Jayasuriya's team won six Test series: over Australia, for the first
time, India, Zimbabwe and the West Indies and also shared a series
with South Africa, all on home turf.
conquests were in Pakistan and Zimbabwe. But five series were lost
too: twice each to South Africa, both away, and to England, home and
away, and to Pakistan here. If you bring into the calculation the two
series wins over Bangladesh and triumph over Pakistan in the Asia Test
Championship final in Lahore, then the ratio of wins far exceeds the
losses. The purple patch of his leadership years was, doubtlessly, the
historic sequence of nine Test-wins in 2001-02, a feat no country, bar
Australia, can boast of. As well, numerous one-day series were won in
Sharjah, Morocco, New Zealand and shared with India the mini World Cup
trophy. There were, however, some disappointing performances in the
current World Cup.
that his team was able to overcome both reversals and some obvious
deficiencies in the team to finish among the top four is quite an
admirable achievement, no matter the part played by good fortune.
Cynics though prefer to put under microscopes the moments of failures,
and pass outright condemnation of his team. But then these are
detractors who would detect only negatives, even if the World Cup had
been won. They won't acknowledge that, Jayasuriya's team advanced
further than South Africa, Pakistan, England and the West Indies did.
Ironically, some past captains with less to show than Jayasuriya have
been subjected to less severe chastisement and their reign allowed to
prolong without question.
why talk about the eviction of Jayasuriya at this point of time, you
might well ask. The short answer: the World Cup is four yearly. The
purists might give little credence to a World Cup decided on
countries' strengths in the shorter version, which, to their minds,
isn't cricket at all. They will argue that one-day cricket is a cheap
guide to decide captaincy. But the wider world sees the shorter game
with far more approving eyes, and like it or not, the World Cup has
come to be regarded as the planet's premier cricket show; the game.
has to be remembered that this ultimate in recognition has come after
only eight tournaments over a period of 28 years _ a drop in time in
the centuries-old sea of Test cricket. Because of the importance of
the World Cup - the winners, after all, are referred to as World
Champions - Test-playing countries clearly plan their futures from one
to the next event, four years hence. The dismissal of the captain of
the failed South African team, Shaun Pollock, and the appointment of
22-year-old Graeme Smith as his successor, is a classic example. And
the official reason for the change clearly says that South Africa ''is
looking at the 2007 World Cup. It's (going to be) a new era.'' The
timing of Nasser Hussein's resignation as one-day skipper soon after
England's exit in the first round is significant, though the real
reasons for quitting lie in the part the English Board played in the
forfeited Zimbabwe match. The talk is of a successor who will be
around in 2007, and young Trescothick is spoken of the next leader.
is fairly certain other countries will appoint new leaders; Pakistan
and the West Indies, with ageing leaders, for certain. The younger
Fleming, Ponting and Ganguly look more secure. Jayasuriya would be
more at home in the company Hooper and Waqar than with Ponting and
Jayasuriya want to be around for a fourth World Cup in 2007 he
would've touched 38, a tad too ripe for the one-day helter-skelter.
Presently Aravinda de Silva is a year younger and Tillekeratne, two
years junior, than Jayasuriya would be in 2007. De Silva, with bat and
ball and tactical intelligence, and Tillekeratne provided some useful
contributions in 2003 campaign. But clearly their swiftness and
agility on the field were found wanting in the face of standards set
by the many younger men, the likes of, say, Yuvraj and Kaif.
much is certain, however. Should
Jayasuriya set his mind on a fourth World Cup, his commitment to the
cause will not be found wanting. But to combine the duties of
captaincy and a key batsman for another four years might be pushing
things too far for one who would've got on years by 2007. He has
combined the two responsibilities admirably over the past four years,
but I suspect his enthusiasm is not what it was. Expectations of him
are at an unreasonable level _ to the point that it's an accepted
belief that he has to succeed for the team to win. Defeat invariably
is ascribed to his failure, if not with bat, then his on- field
decisions or his mild manners. If that is not enough of a heavy load,
his rapport with the selectors, especially the present set, hasn't
always been ideal.
is no secret
disharmony created all sorts of problems for him and the team _ and
there were times he might have suspected factionalism within the team.
For example, Muralitheran's public moanings in England last summer
that too much was asked of him and little of the others. It is no
secret that Jayasuriya asked to be relieved of his captaincy around
last December, but selectors as good as said; ''this world cup is your
baby _ resign if you want to after it''. All this happened between the
failed tours to South Africa in November and to Australia soon after _
and prospects of a place in the Super Six was at best a hope and the
semifinal, a distant dream. So, any condemnation of the team's failure
to appear in today's final has to be cruelly unfair.
is not to support the idea that Jayasuriya should remain as captain _
nor that the selectors remove him. The decision should be left to the
man himself. Personally, it would be a hard thing to give up Sri Lanka
sport's most coveted job. But as Jayasuriya has confessed himself, the
job, without the support of administration and with restless charges,
is tormenting and difficult _ and would rather not have it all. But
there are some other more noble reasons why he shouldn't be captain
any more. The most obvious reason is that he would be a little too
gray-haired in 2007, probably to even be a player, let alone captain.
As the South Africans have done and England probably too, it would be
best to make way for a younger member as the next World Cup enters its
stage of planning.
he does so, to my mind, he would've made as valuable a contribution to
Sri Lanka cricket as any of his many gorgeous on-field doings. He
would've risen above the selfishness, bigotry, insincerity and all the
other notorious traits that have blighted our leaders in sport. A
withdrawal with grace and dignity would be such a refreshing change
from the usual venting-of-spleen by most other departing leaders _ and
the bitchiness in their retirement.
is there a younger player worthy of the 2007 investment? Mahela
Jayewardena has been in such wretched form that his name is anathema
at this moment of time. Sanagakkara's cause is no better; he didn't
score enough, but that is less of a reason than his horrendously
expensive wicket-keeping lapses. Arnold, sadly, has reduced himself to
the inconsequential and his permanency must now be in doubt. The
apparent lack of a suitable young successor might encourage thoughts
of Atapattu, Muralitheran or Vaas, but whether they are wise long-term
investments is debatable. Jayewardena and Sangakkara, I am sure, will
rediscover their form and become acceptable candidates in the not too
either of them given the job will surely raise the hackles of the
seniors, as indeed it did when Jayewardena was appointed deputy leader
in 1999. This could be got round by appointing Atapattu, presently
deputy, the Test captain and Muralitheran or Vaas his deputy. After
all, Test cricket needs maturity _and one-dayer, young legs and big
talent. Jayasuriya had the attributes to lead in both versions all
these years, but the sands of time are never still. Clearly, there's
much rebuilding of team to be done, and pitfalls there will be during
the transition. It will be all too much for the modest, soft-spoken
man as age creeps up on him.
him the freedom to swing a bat, which is how this simpleton from
Matara yet understands the game. It's time someone else took the pains
of captaincy _ and let Jayasuriya enjoy life on the field.
gentle giant when it comes to Rugby
Rupasinghe hardly comes across as the sort of stern man required to
read the Riot Act to, of all people, rough and randy rugby players. He
might have the physique of a law enforcer, but the modest and politely
soft-spoken man couldn't say 'boo' to a goose. A gentle giant, if ever
there was one in rugby.
that softness, however, is only until he begins his job as Manager of
Sri Lanka's Sevens team. The change then is almost like, off with the
tie and coat and presto, Suuupermann. Listen to the Manager: ''No
nonsense, I've made it clear we're going to HongKong to play rugby''
rasped Rupasinghe, sternly. ''Imagine for many years, the HongKong
sevens was treated as a shopping expedition. This was being
non-manager Rupasinghe would've couched that message in more
apologetic and softer language. Or, come to think of it, he might not
have said anything at all. But then rugby is serious business for the
one-time New York wine taster turned local entrepreneur, himself a
rugby player of repute in the 80s.
first thing we do when we arrive in HongKong (at noon on Wednesday) is
to wolf down some lunch and catch up on loss sleep. Since departure is
around 2 a.m. there's no going to bed on Tuesday night. It's important
the boys get about five hours of afternoon sleep on arrival,'' said
Rupasinghe, revealing his care for details. ''Then we'd spend about
two hours in the gym in the night doing mostly stretching exercises to
get rid of flight weariness. Lights out at 10 p.m. No nonsense.''
former S. Thomas, Havelock SC and Sri Lanka forward, has lined up a
coaching session under All Blacks coach Gordon Tietjens on Thursday
morning and a possible practice match against Wales, whose manager
David Rees, like Tietjens, is a personal friend of the Sri Lankan
manager. ''I have already been in touch with Tietjens and Rees and
they've said they'd be happy to help us.
is only the day we have for a serious workout and somehow we have to
work out our time so as to take advantage of both offers. It's going
to be valuable for the players,'' said Rupasinghe.
Lanka open their Credit Suisse/First Boston HongKong Sevens campaign
on Friday night against heavyweights South Africa, no.2 last year in
the World Series ranking and presently sixth. On Saturday morning,
they will confront Argentina, seventh in the current World Series
standings and winner of the Plate final in South Africa. The South
Americans always run the superpowers close. Later Saturday, Sri Lanka
take on Korea, the Asian champions.
the Pool matches will be painfully tough, but then it has always been
so. For us it is a learning experience against superpowers, who
otherwise we will never play against. Our job will be to restrict the
scoring and score a try or ourselves,'' said Rupasinghe.
HKRFU's official publication, Rugby Talk, says of Sri Lanka's chances
thus: ''Home of the world's second oldest rugby union, Sri Lanka will
be looking to improve on an excellent performance in 2002. The gutsy
Sri Lankans scored two tries against Scotland, running them close
19-10, and also played well against eventual Bowl champions Morocco in
a 14-5 loss.''
ultimate success for Sri Lanka this year would be to repeat the 1984
deed under Hisham Abdeen, winning the Bowl. But the competition since
has got a whole lot tougher, especially after the event became a part
of the World Series circuit in 1997. This is one reason why, since
defeating the Arabian Gulf in 2000, Sri Lanka hasn't won a single
match since in HongKong. Should Nalaka Weerakoddy's men crack the
two-year duck, a deserving tribute would've been paid to coach Asanga
Seneviratne and manager Chaminda Rupasinghe, who finish their three
year assignment with this outing. In their three-year term, Sri Lanka
impressively came within one try of defeating giants like Scotland,
France and Wales and overcame Kenya, presently 10th in WS ranking,
Belgium and China in Sevens tournaments in HongKong and elsewhere.
is vastly different to past record sheets when 70s and 100s were
conceded to the giants and defeat at the hands of China was sustained.
Could the change have come about by the gentle giant choosing to talk
tough? Might well be.