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Sri Lanka has matured

Sri Lanka is going into the SSC Test with a lot more confidence. The most impressive part is how Sri Lanka has matured in Test cricket. It is something which we lacked long, long years ago. Once we got out to a low score in the first innings we just didn’t know how to win a Test match. You only need to look at Australia and other experienced teams to see how they handle those situations. Once they get a low score they come back fighting. They will not panic and are able to get a decent score on a turning fourth or fifth day wicket making it an interesting and tight contest.

It is all to do with the exposure and experience Sri Lanka has matured over the years. It is the entire confidence of the team and also the way Sri Lanka approach Test cricket. I said Sri Lanka had to be positive and that is how you win a match. I thought 250-300 would have been a good contest. Even if Sanga got out at 98 it would have still been a very close game.

I still feel the middle order batting from five onwards is a little bit suspect. We just need to stabilise that batting line-up. I am sad not to see Dilshan and Kapugedera not being considered. Those two we should not discard. We invested in them and they are two greatly talented players. The other day I mentioned in an Indian interview that I couldn’t believe Yuvraj Singh being left out of the Test squad. The way he plays he is the Brian Lara of India. I would pay money to go and watch him. He is one of the best players they got in the whole of India. It’s a similar situation in Sri Lanka with Dilshan and Kapugedera. We need to get them back on the park playing against some good opposition. They might go through a lean period but we’ve got to persist with them.

It’s going to be another era for Sri Lanka cricket with two players Sanath and Marvan having ended their careers. Cricket will go on. I think we should have by now identified the two players to fill in those two slots. It is sad to see Sri Lanka struggling to find two quality openers who are confident enough to make hundreds. Tharanga is one but he’s had a lean period. We must find a solid partner for him. In the last 10-12 Test matches Sanath didn’t get a decent score and they had problems trying out players. I expected them to do that at ‘A’ level and be prepared to fill in the slots. I felt that Mubarak should bat up in the order. I actually would have liked if we had tried out someone like Dilshan to open the batting as we did with Roshan (Mahanama) at one time. Dilshan is a good player of fast bowling and a fighter. He is useful cricketer and we should use him. He is a very flexible sort of cricketer. He will keep wickets and bowl. Very rarely do you find talent like that. These kinds of players will be useful in difficult situations when you want to get the balance right in Test matches.

England is going to come back hard on Sri Lanka but they’ve got to play really well to beat them. Basically I wonder whether they have the bowling to win a Test match here. They got Hoggard to get them the initial breakthrough and he is out of the SSC Test. They need two very good spinners if they are to win in Sri Lanka. Panesar is finding it difficult with no support role from the other end where pressure is released. England needs a combination similar to Vaas and Murali.

If you really want to break a partnership those are two bowlers you look for. It is what England lacks. They need Vaughan or Pietersen to get a big score. On these kinds of wickets you can’t play shots like in England or Australia. The kind of approach Bell and Prior had in Kandy is how England should approach against the likes of Murali. You just cannot hit him off the attack. They need to bat sensibly against him and not over attack.

I don’t know whether conditions here will suit Harmison. The first day it might suit him but beyond that I can’t see him being dangerous. He might go for a few runs if we see him through the first session and a half. He is not going to create that much problems to our batsmen.

The SSC wicket is normally a good one. It will seam a little bit in the first one hour after lunch and thereafter it will be a very good wicket to bat on. It will help the spinners more than Kandy because there will be a bit more bounce and you could play a few more shots. There can be more bat-pad chances here than any other wicket. I was disappointed the way Vaughan captained. He is not a very imaginative captain. He let Sri Lanka off the hook a couple of times. He needs to work out how wickets could be taken under these conditions. He needs to be very imaginative and really tactical if he wants to beat Sri Lanka. When there is a huge partnership Vaughan really does not know how to handle the situation because of lack of exposure as captain in this part of the world.

(This column will be featured in The Bottom Line on Wednesday and The Nation during the Sri Lanka – England cricket Test series).

****

SLC targets Rs. 40m profits from England series

Sri Lanka Cricket has been successful in marketing the Sri Lanka-England Test and One-day series that they are looking at making profits upto Rs. 50 million.
The SLC’ tour organising committee chairman Shibley Vilcassim told The Nation that for the five one-dayers at Dambulla and Colombo total sales had been in the region of Rs. 15 million and for the three Test matches at Kandy, Colombo and Galle, a further Rs. 25 million. He expects it to go upto Rs. 30 million by the time the Galle Test is over.
“For ticket sales we called for quotations from Pricewaters and Cooper and one or two other audit firms but their figures were high. To cut down costs the whole operation was handed over to the SLC’s finance department who have so far done a good job,” said Vilcassim.

For the two Tests at Kandy and the SSC, Vilcassim said SLC had sold tickets to three to four thousand English spectators. In Kandy the highest ticket rates per day were Rs. 3,500 and the lowest Rs. 100 for the public stands. For Galle the rates for the public has been reduced to Rs. 20 per day to enable spectators to witness the first Test match to be played there after the Tsunami in 2004. The highest priced ticket is Rs. 3,500 per day.
“The response from English spectators has been good for the Tests. Unlike the one-dayers where the local spectators outnumbered the English it is the opposite with the Test matches. The turn out of English spectators at Kandy was 65 per cent,” said Vilcassim.

To cater to the demands of the English cricket followers SLC had beer freely available at all matches and also food stalls making available a variety of menus like barbeque, grilled items etc. There was also a running buffet for the English spectators starting with morning tea, breakfast, lunch and evening tea in special marquees.
“For selling of beer we got quotations from two companies and without branding we negotiated for Rs. one million with Ceylon Breweries for all three Tests,” said Vilcassim.

“We went out of our way to get permission to sell beer at the grounds because there is a big demand for it from the English cricketing public. If beer was not available during the matches it would have been a disaster,” he said. Vilcassim said for all items quotations were called from suppliers registered with SLC. “It is not necessary to give it to the lowest quotations. We always negotiate and see what is best for SLC and then award the tenders.”
He said that the Galle Stadium which was ravaged by the Tsunami was complete and ready to host the third Test starting on December 18.

“The stadium infrastructure has come out very well. A friendly cricket match was played on the ground a couple of days back. Where we cannot put permanent structures on the Galle Fort side which obstructs the view we are having temporary sheds and marquees,” Vilcassim said. [ST]

****

SSC Test to start at 10 a.m.

The second Test match between Sri Lanka and England at the SSC grounds will commence today at 10 a.m. The starting time has been advanced by half an hour because of light fading early in the evening. A minimum of 90 overs has to be bowled during a day’s play.

****

Rupavahini Premier limited-over cricket
CCC, Tamil Union in exciting contests

CCC was involved in an exciting five-run win over Ragama CC in their Rupavahini Premier Tier A limited overs match played at Maitland Crescent yesterday. In another exciting contest at the Sara Stadium Tamil Union beat Colts by two runs under Duckworth and Lewis method. In the other matches played Moors, Chilaw Marians and SSC secured wins in Tier A.
In Tier B, left-arm fast bowler Romesh Eranga shone for BRC taking eight wickets for 30 runs to bring them victory by six wickets over Army. Saracens, Panadura SC, Police and Singha are the other clubs who secured victories in the matches played yesterday.

Results: (Tier A)
* At Sara Stadium: Tamil Union bt Colts by 2 runs (d/l).
Colts 278-7 (50) (S. Kalavitigoda 53, J. Kulatunga 69, D. Perera 33, N. Kulasekera 36 n.o.)
Tamil Union 218-5 (41) (L. de Silva 60, T. de Silva 34, M. Pushpakumara 47 n.o.).
* At Braybrooke Place: Moors bt Badureliya CC by 5 wkts.
Badureliya CC 226 (48.4) (T. Sargunam 50, R. Ratnayake 49, C. Welagedera 4/42, R. Herath 3/23)
Moors SC 227-5 (48) (T. Sudarshana 40, N. Nawala 55, R. Peiris 47, L. Dias 4/34).
* At Reid Avenue: Chilaw Marians bt Bloomfield by 8 wkts.
Bloomfield 109 (35.4) (G. Wijekoon 3/13, S. Senanayake 3/26)
Chilaw Marians 111-2 (15.5) (H. Fernando 52 n.o.).
* At Maitland Place (NCC): SSC bt NCC by 8 wkts.
NCC 96 (35.5) (N. Zoysa 3/28, S. Karunanayake 4/27); SSC 97-2 (14.3).
* At Maitland Crescent: CCC bt Ragama CCC by 5 runs.
CCC 160 (47.4) (N. Randika 37, T. Mendis 55, D. Gamage 3/32)
Ragama CC 155 (43.5) (S. de Zoysa 42). – [ST]

****

Seniors feel the heat

Sri Lanka’s master blaster Sanath Jayasuriya was given an ultimatum to quit from Test cricket by the national selectors.
Highly placed sources said that Jayasuriya who retired from Test cricket after the first Test against England at Kandy was spoken to by the national selectors and told that they were interested in grooming young players and what would be his decision. Jayasuriya had replied that he also felt the time had come for him to quit Test cricket and that he would gracefully retire at Kandy. Jayasuriya scored 78 in his farewell knock.
Sources revealed that Chaminda Vaas was also spoken to by the selectors but he had indicated that he was not prepared to quit immediately but after playing another year of international cricket. Vaas who was under pressure to take wickets finished with five wickets in the Kandy Test.

****

Schoolgirls defeat seeded players at Badminton Nationals

Ishadika and Lekha Shehani created major upsets to enter the semi-finals of the women’s open singles event at the 55th Senior National Badminton Championships organised by the Sri Lanka Badminton Association yesterday at the Royal College Sports Complex.
Ishadika a 13-year-old unseeded player of Lindsay Girl’s School won 13/21, 21/17, 21/19, defeating third seed Sulochana Ariyadasa, a national team player, at the quarterfinals.
Similarly Lekkha Shehani a 15-year-old schoolgirl from Our Lady of Victories Convent, Moratuwa beat fourth seed Subodha Dhahanayake 21/10, 21/19 to enter the semi-finals.

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