Saturday, January 01, 2011
With the dawn the New Year, players of all countries contesting the 2011 World Cup are hard at practice. The countries have named their provisional squads of 30 players, from which the selectors will pick a squad of 15 by January 15 according to the rules of the International Cricket Council.
The Sri Lanka 30-member squad is being put through their paces by the coaches comprising Trevor Bayliss, Stuart Law, Champaka Ramanayake and Ruwan Kalpage.
Bayliss and Law are concentrating on the batting techniques, while Ramanayake and Kalpage are watching the bowling and fielding drills.
The squad is made up of tried and tested players who have been in the constellation of either Test, one-day or Twenty20 cricket. So there is not much to correct in them except the fine tuning of techniques for the Tests and the psychological finesse that goes with the terrain.
No doubt the preparations within the training squad should include discussions on various scenarios that range from the strategies of our teams and those of our opponents, from the type of wickets the curators will prepare and those that they will not prepare, from the quality of bowling to aggression of batting and …of course in these times of the effects of global warming, the vagaries and impacts of the weather.
Having played the game and being involved in writing about the game for over four decades, and having followed the failures and successes of our cricketers, we make bold to hazard a guess of the likely squad of 15 should be for the 2011 World Cup. We do so with all due respect to the selectors led by former batting great Aravinda de Silva, Ranjit Fernando, Amal Silva and Shabir Asgerally who when they sit to pencil the final squad will do so with none to fear.
Their target is to pick the squad that will deliver and bring the big prize in one-day cricket home. They have been in selection game before and are thick skinned enough to receive bouquets or the brickbats that await them after selection with equanimity. These selectors are gentleman of repute and neither fear nor favour affects them.
Arm chair critics
The brickbats will come from arm chair critics many of whom may not have handled a bat or know neither a chuck from legitimate delivery. And so thick skins and a sense of humour is what the Selectors and Sri Lanka Cricket led by D.S. de Silva need.
The selectors have made it known that they will look for the complete team. Translated, this means that they will mix youth with experience. With the World Cup not a pitch for the timid, there is no substitute for experience.
That is where the experience of Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas is essential. The selectors are all men of honesty and great integrity and who knows what it is to play a straight bat. Like in a team where only 11 can play, the ICC rules require that they name only 15. They would love to name more. But it is 15 and that’s it!
So here we go and here’s our 15. Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Matthews, Thisara Perera, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitheran, Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Kulasekera, Ajantha Mendis, Malinga Bandara, Lasith Malinga.
The one player we would have loved to include was Dinesh Chandimal. But with only a squad of 15 allowed, it was with great reluctance that we had to leave him out of our radar.
J and V essential
Jayasuriya and Vaas are essentials in the team. They have been in World Cups and finals before and know the frying pan heat that exists and are the ideal foam and hoses to douse the fire.
Jayasuriya need not allow the political tag that he is carrying worry him. As usual he will have the green-eyeds baying for his ouster. Cricket is a different ball game and he has the all round experience and the talent to prove his worth, value and necessity in the team.
Jayasuriya has been tops at training. He has shown that age has not slowed his reflexes nor dimmed his enthusiasm and hunger. He is performing every drill like he did a decade ago and is looking ferocious like a lion in hunger and waiting to pounce and devour. He must be let loose.
Chaminda Vaas too has shown that he has not lost his ability, although he has slowed in pace. He is now concentrating on line, length and movement and pushing batsmen into the run drought zone. His batting skills have improved tremendously and he has shown an opening batsman’s flair in recent times.
The choosing of the final eleven to take the field we leave that to those who will have to execute a different stroke which will be no easy task, because they will be on a sticky wicket. However the playing eleven will be known, only after a look at the wicket. If it is a green top then it is obvious that Sri Lanka will go in pace heavy. If it is a dry strip, then it will be spin-heavy.
However everything will depend on the winning of the all important toss. What ever the playing eleven, if skipper Sangakkara has luck with the toss everything could be fine. But losing the toss could put us in a tricky situation. Sub continent pitches are notorious for assisting spin. With this in mind Sri Lanka will go in with spin reducing the pace battery. Sri Lanka will be playing most of their matches on home soil. With this being the case, with the home advantage of preparing the wickets, although there is no written law, it is likely that the curators will concentrate on wickets assisting spin. The home team must take advantage when preparing pitches. We have the world’s best spinner in Muttiah Muralitheran and the other spinners in the squad are equally good and the opposing batsmen will not find it easy coping with them.
With final 15-member squad picking time nearing all eyes will be focused on the four-member selection panel waiting to see the squad that they will toss out to carry Sri Lanka’s challenge in winning the biggest one-day cricket prize the 2011 World Cup. We have made our informed guess and prediction, but like all should, we shall take the selectors’ decision with grace as we have confidence in their collective wisdom. We wish them well.
Former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd has named two Sri Lankan veterans Sanath Jayasuriya and Muttiah Muralitharan as candidates to form the greatest One Day International team of all time.
Dashing left hander Jayasuriya and legendary off spinner Muralitharan both members of the 30 members World Cup squad are slotted in the opening and spin category respectively to form the greatest One Day International team of all time.
The other Sri Lankan players who are included in the list of players are Aravinda de Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Romesh Kaluwitharana and Chaminda Vaas.
The International Cricket Council's official website is asking supporters from across the globe to select their choice of the greatest One Day International match and team of all-time to mark the 40th anniversary of ODI cricket.
In his Greatest ODI Team of All Time, Lloyd believed quite a few West Indies players would make the cut. "Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall, would be some of the contenders for sure."
Lloyd named some of the candidates for the team: Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralidaran, Daniel Vettori, Sanath Jayasuriya, Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Ian Botham, Javed Miandad, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Adam Gilchrist and Wasim Akram. "I would love to lead a side like this. It will be dream come true. If I cannot lead, then there is no one better than Imran Khan for the job,"
As ODI cricket celebrates its 40th anniversary in January 2011, Lloyd went down memory lane about his side which is rated the best ever in cricket history.
"I think the approach we had, showed the way. We played quite a few shots and enjoyed our cricket. I am sure some of the teams picked it up from there. Sri Lanka certainly did with Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana in 1996.
'It was our thinking that shots must be played and the paying public must be entertained. That is the reason the crowds enjoy watching one-day cricket," said Lloyd.
Lloyd acknowledged that one-day cricket has changed quite a lot since his time at least in terms of batting.
"At least now they are playing a lot more shots. Now they innovate a lot. You have the Dilscooop, the reverse sweep, slog sweep and a lot more. That's what crowds want, entertainment. All this makes one-day cricket exciting," added Lloyd.
Lloyd calls one-day cricket the greatest innovation for the sport.
He was part of the early years of the format in the 1960s in England when it was played on Sunday afternoons between a select side called International Cavaliers and retired and current county cricketers.
"Whoever thought this format up deserves credit. As the craze grew everybody realised it was a bonanza. It started off as a 40-over game, went to 60 overs and we even played 55 overs a side in county cricket. It (ODIs) has improved the standards of fielding, raised tactical awareness and also brought in innovation."
Lloyd was also part of the other key moment in history when World Series Cricket (WSC) brought in new things like day-night cricket, white ball and coloured clothing in the late 1970s. "We have to thank Kerry Packer for these things.
He was instrumental for that. We owe him a great debt of gratitude," said Lloyd.
So dominant was Lloyd's side in that era that it made the final of the first three ICC Cricket World Cups with absolute ease and even won two of those editions (1975, 1979).
Penetrative bowling from paceman Nuwan Pradeep and veteran Sanath Jayasuriya helped Bloomfield beat Saracens CC by 51 runs in their SLC Premier limited overs cricket tournament Tier match worked off at Reid Avenue today.
Bloomfield: 209 in 46.3 overs (S. Jayantha 53, P. Jayawardena 27, C. Silva 48, M. Ranasinghe 2 for 28, L. Dias 3 for 32, E. Gangoda 2 for 11.)
Saracens CC: 158 in 38.2 overs (A. Suranga 35, E. Gangoda 19, D. Randhika 48 n.o, N. Pradeep 5 for 30, S. Jayasuriya 3 for 15)
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