the wrong 'un

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Why Are Sri Lanka So Rubbish ?

Really, why ? Is this just twice in three innings or is it because I laid England after they lost the toss ? Even Sri Lanka made a better fist of it against England at Lords in the second innings. Any thoughts ?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Why Are Sri Lanka So Brilliant ?

Really, why ? Is this just a one off or are they really that good ? Even Australia weren't as good against Bangladesh. Any thoughts ?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Oh Lanka, Lanka

In response to Andy's post below.

Historically, Sri Lanka have never had much depth. One or two good test batsmen and bowlers, and much mediocrity besides.

At the moment, their batting is particularly weak. Even if Jayasuriya returns to test cricket, he is some way past his formidable peak, and of the others, only Jayawardene and Sangakkara have any pedigree at the top level. Rarely is it a immediate success when a team that bloods three or four batsmen at the same time.

As for their bowling, Vaas and Murali have carried them for over a decade. Say what you like about Murali - what the heck, it's my blog, I will.

Murali throws the ball, always has done. By all accounts, he's a lovely bloke, but this does not, as far as i'm aware, absolve him from his obligation not to straighten his arm during delivery, nor does the fact that he's only a spinner. The defence that his arm cannot straighten fully has never been valid, because the law disallows partial straightening too. But it is not his fault that
he's never been banned, and it must be admitted that the figures he has accumulated over his career are astounding. He would walk into any test team (the thought of him bowling at one end and Warne the other would cause David Frith's publishers to commission another three volumes on cricketing suicides), and he has won dozens of matches virtually on his own. Vaas too is a bowler of the very highest class. 300 test wickets at 28, without any significant new ball support, all the while labouring under the formidable burden of being named Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas, that's a worthy effort.

But since I can't see either of them continuing long after next year's World Cup, judging from what I've seen of their younger players so far, the medium term prognosis does not seem a happy one.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Why Are Sri Lanka So Rubbish ?

Really, why ? Is this just a one off or are they really that bad ? Even Bangladesh made a better fist of it against Australia. Any thoughts ?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

England A vs Sri Lanka, Worcester 4-7 May

The New Road wicket.
Bottom: Chris Read doing keeping drills.

Thursday 4th May 2006.

Left Battersea, Land of the Free and the Home of The Skint, at 7 am on a glorious May morning. I was in Marks and Spencers in Worcester by 9.45 am, buying the necessary high-class, high-calorie junk food needed to sustain one through an entire day. Grapes and meringues were to be the staple foodstuffs, which is just as it should be.

I had never been to Worcester CCC before. The ground is pleasingly small and intimate, just like Taunton. I sat at long-off at the New Road End and watched England A go through their warm-ups in front of me.

Rob Key has lost about two stone in weight this winter. He, or his waif-like doppelganger, hit the ball incredibly hard just going through his warm-up drills. The noise his bat makes is a sharp crack, like gunfire. Was it wise to accept the captaincy of Kent this year when he could still be in the minds of the England selectors?

Jayawardene must have had good advice from Tom Moody, who played for and coached WCCC for eight years before becoming Sri Lanka's coach, but his decision on winning the toss must have been difficult.

Although the wicket threatened to assist the seamers the sun was hot, the England bowling possibly a touch raw (first change - Ricki Clarke and 19-yo beanpole quick Stuart Broad) and his team jammed with batsman.

Jayawardene choose to bat and through the binoculars I saw Rob Key signalling to his team that they were bowling - fingers together as if gripping an imaginary ball, wrist cocked and a swinging motion. If he meant that he expected it to move sideways then he's a bit of a judge.

Jon Lewis had Michael Vandoort caught behind off the first ball. Vandoort is both very tall and extremely boring, as he proved batting with abysmal slowness in the VB Series Game 1 against Aus in Melbourne back in January. Much as I was relieved not to have to endure one of his innings I felt some sympathy for the guy - trying to play his way into the Test team ahead of Jehan Mubarak and here he was walking back to the pavilion whilst the cathedral clock was still chiming eleven.

Bowling from my end Plunkett struggled to locate either line or length and in consequence couldn't exploit conditions. By way of complete contrast Lewis was superb, bowling a tight and controlled line to the three left-handers who comprise Sri Lanka's top order. His first spell yielded 4-22 and Jayawardene must have regretted winning the toss at all.

When Ricki Clarke, who bowled with suprising pace and movement, took a wicket to reduce Sri Lanka to 46-5 the skipper can only have been regretting his decision to bat.

No doubt conditions were producing hooping swing and seam. Read often took the ball in front of first slip from the bowling of Clarke, Lewis and Bopara (whose 21st birthday this was). However Lewis was much more incisive than Plunkett because he put the ball on an awkward spot and let the wicket assist him. Plunkett simply isn't lightning-rapid and so when he struggles for control there is much less chance of success.

Chris Broad's 19 yo son Stuart, a Leicestershire regular, stand 6' 5" and weighs 11 stone. His sunhat blew off more than once. Had it been a smaller hat or a bigger head the wind might have carried him off as well. He showed glimpses of serious promise and generates some good pace out of a slow wicket. He also does a good line in turf-kicking impersonations of his father

England A eventually dismissed a near full strength Lankan batting line up for 179. They lost Cook to a waft in Vaas's first over and Shah to a bat-pad catch from the bowling of Kulasekara. Robert Key was batting very well and could be set for a good score tomorrow. He outsprinted Ed Joyce in the field on three occasions and captained with maturity. Along with Lewis and Clarke he was another to give those much-nudged selectors another little jolt.

Suicide Solution

While browsing the cricket books in the library the other day I came across David Frith's "Silence Of The Heart". Having seen this recommended in a paper a few weeks back I checked it out. It is, if you didn't know, about cricket suicides and (purportedly) why so many participants in the noble game end up sticking their heads in the oven.

Frankly I think I could have told you why myself. Because so many cricketers are twats who are 100 times more interested in their average and bitching at each other than they are in expressing and/or dealing with emotions. Still, maybe I was wrong, and perhaps this book would shed some insight, not that a group of well-adjusted emotionally stable people like the contributors to this blog could possibly need any.

Sadly, unless it's all buried in chapter 16 or something, it doesn't. It's like a cross between Wisden and a coroner's report. So and so took 500 wickets for Somerset and shot himself. Whosit held the record third wicket partnership for Eastern Province and jumped off a bridge. This other guy took 7 catches in a test innings and walked off into the Outback (actually that one was pretty cool). There's very little attempt at explaining anything, it's just a seemingly never-ending litany. Who would have thought a book about suicide could be so depressing.