Never so close to beating the Aussies

“The best chance we got would be right now because we have a good bowling attack. We feel with the attack we’ve got we can take 20 wickets. That’s the most important thing in winning a Test match.”

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Sri Lanka has never come closer to beating Australia than they are now. Of the four Test tours Sri Lanka has made to Australia since 1987, they have yet to record a win in eight Tests (losing six). Holding Australia to a draw on their own soil is itself an achievement and Sri Lanka has done that twice in 1989 and in 2004 on their last tour there.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene was optimistic that his team had a very good chance of putting the record straight this time around.

“The last time we were there we drew a Test match. I think we are getting closer and closer. Mentally we are very strong unit and the guys have developed themselves very well,” Jayawardene told ‘The Nation’.
“The best chance we got would be right now because we have a good bowling attack. We feel with the attack we’ve got we can take 20 wickets. That’s the most important thing in winning a Test match.
“We’ve done that in England and in New Zealand our next goal would be to do that in Australia. There are a few places we want to do that as well. With this bowling attack our chances are much better. If the batsmen get the runs which are required and we fight like hell and support the bowlers we have got a very good chance,” he said.
What has made Sri Lanka such a confident unit to take on the No. 1 team in the world and try and beat them is the responsibility given to each of the players.

Jayawardene explained: “We have given responsibility to individuals and over a period of time they’ve realised that they are responsible for their actions and for their performances. It is not just oriented around a few players, everyone has to contribute. Everyone realises how important he is to the team and how important the role they play in the team.
“We’ve given them that confidence and they strive on that. That’s why we’ve started performing well overseas on a consistent basis. If we can keep that mentality and strong mind frame going and believe in ourselves our chances are very good.”
Assessing the opposition Jayawardene said: “Australia’s batting would be their strongest going into the series with the lack of experience by the absence of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. The bowlers they have are a good unit but not as experienced as when they had McGrath and Warne. They are still a very good all-round side. We still have to respect that and challenge them in all departments.

“The tour is a very important one for us, the combination and the personnel are different. We just need to make sure we concentrate on the challenges ahead of us. Australia is not an easy place to go and play Test cricket. The last time we went there we lost the series 1-0 but we fought really well. We have to do the same thing this time around.
“We’ve got to make sure we don’t go there just to participate in the Test matches. We need to compete with Australia and see how much we’ve improved as a team, to see how close we have got to them and whether we can actually go one better.”
Although reports reaching Colombo indicate that the pitches in Australia at the start of their cricket season would be fresh and favouring fast bowlers, Jayawardene said that one cannot be too sure until they actually get there.
“If the pitches are going to suit the fast bowlers it will be encouraging because the unit that we’ve got has been doing really well and would be very effective.”

Quite apart from beating the Aussies in their own den, Sri Lanka’s primary bowler Muttiah Muralitharan is also on the threshold of breaking the world record for the highest number of Test wickets. He goes to Australia needing nine wickets from the two Tests to place his name above Warne as Test cricket’s most prolific wicket-taker.
Jayawardene said that although the spotlight would be on Muralitharan breaking the world record, it would not detract his team’s focus of beating Australia.

“I’ve spoken to Murali and his sentiments are that he will break the record whether it will be in Australia or elsewhere. For him the Australian tour is about performing well and winning. Down the line if he can break the record it will be great but even if he doesn’t break it, it is not an issue for us,” said Jayawardene. “Most important is we got two Test matches in Australia and that would be the focus. If you ask Murali I am sure he would say the same thing.”
Jayawardene said the 3-2 one-day international series defeat his side suffered at home against England would not affect them in the Tests against Australia.

“What the series taught us was that we need to be very consistent with our overall game. The guys were very disappointed that we lost a series at home which we haven’t done for quite a while,” said Jayawardene.
“We played a lot of good cricket in the whole series. It was the batting that let us down. We were not consistent with the bat. All the players were not getting runs in every game. In that manner it was disappointing but there were a lot of positives. The bowling unit bowled really well and we fought back from certain situations.
“They’ve realised that if you make mistakes you get punished for that. We spoke about it and I am very proud the way we came back in the last game. It showed a lot of character to do that. Hopefully we learn from these mistakes and won’t repeat them again,” he said.

Sri Lanka Test squad: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Kumar Sangakkara (vice-captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu, Upul Tharanga, Chamara Silva, Thilan Samaraweera, Jehan Mubarak, Prasanna Jayawardene, Michael Vandort, Farveez Maharoof, Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando, Lasith Malinga, Chanaka Welegedera, Malinga Bandara.
Officials: Sriyan Samararatne – Manager, Trevor Bayliss – Coach, Paul Farbrace – Assistant Coach, Tommy Simsek – Physiotherapist, Jade Roberts – Trainer, Nalin de Alwis – Computer Analyst, Lal Thamel – Masseur, Ranjith Madurusinghe – Selector on Tour.
Tour itinerary:
Oct. 27-29: v CA Chairman’s XI at Adelaide
Nov. 2-4: v Queensland at Brisbane
Nov. 8-12: 1st Test at Woolloongabba, Brisbane
Nov. 16-20: 2nd Test at Bellerive Oval, Hobart.


Sri Lanka Cricketers’ Night in Australia

The Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria will host the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team to a Gala Dinner on Saturday 23 February 2008 at The Grand on Cathies Lane commencing 7.30 pm.
Sri Lanka plays Australia in a day/night ODI at the MCG on Friday 22 February.
Alston Koch will be in charge of the musical arrangements and Shanaka and Victor will provide a sizzling sit-down three course meal with all accompaniments.
More details from David 0419346031 Sanath0402854754 Ian 0419508309 Bertram 0414979483 Dilshan 0413006398 Alston 0414792790 Quintus 0411465656


The bowling to beat the Aussies

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is of the opinion that he has the bowling attack to unsettle the Aussies and win a Test match Down Under for the first time.
“The best chance we got would be right now because we have a good bowling attack. We feel with the attack we’ve got we can take 20 wickets. That’s the most important thing in winning a Test match,’ said Jayawardene.
Given below are the Test Career Bowling figures of the key Sri Lankan bowlers on whose shoulders rest a heavy burden. Their performances against Australia are also given besides their career figures.








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