Question of Sri Lankaís Test
by Rex Clementine
It would be an interesting topic to follow. The options available for the series against England are 1. Go ahead with the two captain policy, 2. Give Marvan a go, or 3. Bring back Sanath Jayasuriya. When talking of options these are the three areas that will probably be discussed by the selectors. Itís unlikely that anything apart from the above three would happen. We can even reduce the three options to two by taking off the third one. The selectors themselves hadnít spoken or thought about much of going back to the Matara man.
Thereís been lot of media coverage from learned critics that the left-handed opener should be given another go. Jayasuriya has got the highest success rate of a Sri Lankan captain and has led the side to many milestones. Taking over from Arjuna Ranatunga, a giant like figure in local cricket, the left-hander did an exceptional job and his biggest strength was to bring the best out of his players. His personal contributions also were vital for Sri Lankaís success and he remained the number one Sri Lankan target of the opposition in the last four years or so in both forms of the game. So should we go back to the man from Matara? People might wonder!
However, there are those who think contrary to that. Jayasuriya has done his part. Reverting back to Jayasuriya is going back to the past, some might wonder. Itís as if we donít have anyone else to do the job, others might say. When Jayasuriya quit captaincy, it came as a surprise to many. So would he himself be really wanting something which he said "not interested" six months back. Maybe going back to Jayasuriya might not even attract the selectors that much as they have set out their plans for the future already.
Hashan Tillakaratna has done a reasonably good job as Test captain. After returning to the Test side in 2001 August, Tillakarathna has been the most consistent and successful Sri Lankan batsman in Test cricket. His exploits in the longer version of the game also earned him a place in Sri Lankaís ODI squad later. However, he quit one day cricket subsequently. When Tillakaratna was awarded the captaincy, the decision of the selectors raised the eyebrows of many. Tillakaratna himself admitted that he was surprised after hearing the news.
The left-handed Sri Lankan middle order batsman has led the country in two series. He drew the series against the Kiwis at home while losing to the West Indies in the Caribbean. Tillakaratnaís tactics in the second Test against New Zealand in Kandy also came in for some criticism. There were many who felt that rather than playing it safe Sri Lanka should have gone for the kill. The new coach himself highlighted the fact when addressing his first media briefing at the cricket board headquarters and felt that Sri Lanka should have pushed for a win and gone for the run chase in that Test, like the Australians do, rather than going for a honourable draw.
Probably the cricket fans would have felt that under Tillakaratna Sri Lanka has under achieved. Specially drawing a series against New Zealand at home doesnít speak too well of the new captain. However, donít forget the fact that both the series that Tillakaratna captained here in Sri Lanka and in the West Indies were interrupted by inclement weather.
There is a section of the crowd who feel that it was absolutely right that Tillakaratna was given the duty of captaining the side as a mark of gratitude for his consistency with the bat. There are others who say that Tillakaratna is more senior to Jayasuriya and that he captained the side even before the opener in a Test Match when Ranatunga was injured. They feel that in fact Tillakaratna should have succeeded Ranatunga instead of Jayasuriya as the senior most player in the side.
Letís talk of the present. If the appointment of Tillakaratna as captain of the side was a temporary one with the intention of not saddling Atapattu with too much of an burden probably Tillakaratna will find this season that he be asked to fully concentrate on his batting alone while Atapattu will go out to the middle with Michael Vaughan to toss the coin.
The selectors were quick to talk of their mindset when they decided to go for two captains. Theyíve maintained the thought even today. According to the selectors, Atapattu was to do the job when Jayasuriya quit, but they were just concerned about his workload.
Sometime our administrators, selectors and many others have a knack to worship anything that is foreign. When the Aussies decide to go ahead with a two captains policy, our ones too would say what a wonderful concept that is and that we should follow their footsteps. But they donít realise that the Australians had a solid reason behind appointing Mark Taylor as Test captain and giving the ODI side to Stephen Waugh. When Waugh retires, the Aussies arenít going to appoint another captain to take over the Test side. Theyíll simply ask Ricky Ponting to take over the Test side too.
After leading the side in a few one day series, the "obvious choice" is more experienced. Heís done it fairly well and has got a decent record too. He would add a ODI series win in the Caribbean too to his CV. More than anything, Atapattu has won over men who matter with his unique style. He has demanded discipline from his players. Has asked Muralitharan to shut his mouth and go through proper net sessions during practices. Has dedicated more time for fielding during practice sessions and stressed on the importance of discipline. These have made many men happy. So they might be ready to give him the green light for both forms of the game.
Maybe Dyson would play a crucial role in determining the course the selectors are going to take. Would he agree with option 2?
|NEWS | POLITICS | DEFENCE | FEATURES | OPINION | BUSINESS | LEISURE | EDITORIAL | CARTOON|