Sri Lanka in England
The one thing about writing a weekly column during ODI series is that you have to catch up on a whole hell of a lot! So it is with this series, where no less than three games have occurred since last I wrote.
In the second and third matches, magnificent centuries from Jayawardene and Chandimal saw Sri Lanka post impressive victories. Of particular note was Jayawardene’s 144, which was just majestic. I really think that it’s easy to forget just how good this guy is, but time and time again he performs at the highest level. In fact, in the third ODI he managed 79 too, but was outclassed by Chandimal’s fantastic 105. Spare a thought too for new England captain Alastair Cook who smashed 119, and seems to be continuing on from his great Ashes form.
With the series on the line then, England pulled out a good performance just in time, posting a 10 wicket victory in the fourth match at Trent Bridge. Sri Lanka were in dire straits at 5/57, mostly thanks to good swing bowling from Jimmy Anderson and Tim Bresnan. Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews managed to salvage 174 from the innings, but it was never going to be enough. Congratulations must go to Stuart Broad too, who posted his first wickets for the series…woo hoo!! In reply Cook and Kieswetter knocked off the runs in under 24 overs.
Sorry, but one last thing to note about this series. Never content to leave their team be, it was extraordinary to see English pundits try and talk themselves out of having Cook and Trott in the same team. Just absurd talk really, given Trott averages over 50 with a strike rate of 78 and Cook is smashing runs for fun. Anyway, hopefully the selectors will hit the mute button, but English supporters could do well to let the Sky commentators know that they are barking up the wrong tree.
India in the West Indies
All hail Ishant Sharma!! Ten big wickets in the second test was a great return to form for the big long-haired one. However, no matter his heroics, the Indians just couldn’t do enough to get a result, as the Windies held on for an impressive draw. In another low scoring contest, the bowlers were right on top, with Fidel Edwards also bagging eight for the match. Standout innings came from Marlon Samules in the Windies first dig (78*), VVS Laxman (85 & 87) and Darren Bravo (73) to save the match.
All of this has led to a do-or-die contest in Dominica, with the Windies trying to battle back for an impressive series draw, and India trying to flex its muscle to win a rare series in the Caribbean. The first day was badly effected by rain, with just 31 overs possible. But in that time the Windies managed to lose 3/75, moistly due to an excellent spell of 2/23 from Sharma.
Perhaps the biggest talking point however has been the dropping of Ramnaresh Sarwan from the team. With Sarwan and Brendan Nash dropped, and Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo not in the squad, the Windies are fielding probably their most inexperienced team since that ridiculous series a while back against Bangladesh. Much pressure will now fall on Shiv Chanderpaul and the still inexperienced Darren Bravo. We will see how that decision plays out in the days to come.
Finally this week it was great to see one of the true thinkers of the game stand up and make his voice heard. In an address to the Marylebone Cricket Club, Sangakkara openly criticised the political nature of his cricket board back home. His lecture came in light of the recent ICC conference which called for a reduction in political involvement with cricket boards, but surprise surprise, the Sri Lankan board came out and angrily criticised Sangakkara’s comments. The former Sri Lankan captain is recognised as one of the real gentlemen of cricket, and any of his comments on the state of the game should always be noted. Let us hope that he can make a real difference and enforce some kind of change on the make-up of his Board back home.
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