Sri Lanka in England
After a dreary, rain sodden, test series, England and Sri Lanka embarked on a single T20 and their ODI series under fairly grey skies again. The T20 saw an emphatic victory for Sri Lanka, largely thanks to a superb knock by out-of-form maestro Mahela Jayawardene (72 from 57). Kumar Sangakkara also hit 43, and the Sri Lankans chased down England’s modest 136 in less than 18 overs. So, not a great start for new England T20 captain Stuart Broad, who could soon overtake Darren Sammy in the ‘only picked because I’m captain’ stakes, as his form has been pretty ordinary of late.
The first ODI was affected by rain, and saw England post an impressive 229 from 32 overs. Much has been made of the potential of the next South African turned Englishman, Craig Kieswetter, but until his impressive 61 in this knock, it was hard to see what the fuss was about. Honestly though, South Africa must be pretty annoyed that these super-talented players keep hopping off to England. Imagine a Proteas team that still had Jacques Kallis, AB De Villiers and Dale Steyn, but also boasted the likes of Kevin Pietersen, John Trott and Kieswetter…sheesh.
In reply, the Lankans could only put up 121, with Jimmy Anderson taking 4/18 in swinging conditions, and Graeme Swann picking up 3/18. It’s important to note that debutant Jake Dernback (great name!) grabbed two middle-order wickets, and none other than Whispering Death Michael Holding labelled him as ‘lively’. With four matches to go, we hope that this series finds some life, but at the moment that feels as far off as a sunny day in England.
India in the West Indies
The first test in Jamaica finished up earlier this week with India posting a fairly close 63 run victory. With no team scoring over 300, and in fact the Windies posting the biggest single innings score (262 in their second), it was certainly not the whitewash that some commentators expected. Credit must first be given to Rahul Dravid, whose 112 was just magnificent, and he was duly awarded man of the match. The other real standout for India was Ishant Sharma who snared 6 wickets in the match, and certainly looked the most explosive bowler of either side.
The Windies had to be heartened by the close nature of the match. Although it was always unlikely they would be able to chase down the final total of 326, to post 262 was impressive. Adrian Barath and Lendl Simmons got the innings off to an extraordinary start, scoring at more than a run-a-ball. But once they were dismissed I think most thought the Windies would collapse calypso style. But, fighting innings from Darren Bravo, Shiv Chanderpaul, Darren Sammy and Ravi Rampaul, saw the Windies at least get close. Credit too must go to Devandra Bishoo, who took seven wickets for the match and now has 16 wickets in just three tests.
The second test currently underway in Barbados has been badly affected by rain, but it was interesting to note that the Indians suffered another shocking batting collapse to be all out for 201. Again, the only real resistance was from an old-timer VVS Laxman, and the Indians must be worried about the resiliency of the new generation who have been brought up playing ODI and T20 cricket. The Windies are currently 5/98 in reply, with another three wickets to Sharma.
Vale Sanath Jayasuria
Finally this week, it gives me great pleasure to honour one of the all-time greats, Mr Slash and Dash himself, Sanath Jayasuria. Honestly, there are not many sportsmen who last over twenty years at the top level, and if there are, they tend to be those quite unassuming types…well…not Sanath! What a star! Let’s review his record:
340 highest score
189 highest score
Just an unbelievable record really. That combination of batting prowess and his amazing left-arm orthodox spin have made Sanath one of the all-time great players. As he is known as more of an ODI player, I really had no idea he’d played that many test matches, with such a fantastic record; averaging over 40 with the bat. But, as stated, ODI cricket is what he is most renowned for, and a glance at his record tells you why.
However, as we know stats are just numbers, and really I’ll remember Sanath for revolutionising the role of the opening bat in ODI’s. He and Romesh Kaluwitarana were the first opening pair who decided to target 100 by 15 overs. At their peak during the 1996 World Cup, they were unstoppable, and the likes of Adam Gilchrist, Herschelle Gibbs and Chris Gayle would never have been the openers they were without the trailblazing efforts of Sanath and Romesh. I guess the last thing to note is the way Sanath played the game. Always with a smile on his face, seemingly adored by his teammates and loved by opposition players and supporters, Sanath played the game the right way.
So, let us hope that he can enjoy a great retirement making money on the mercenary T20 circuit and hopefully giving back to Sri Lankan cricket as it moves forward to the next generation.
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