Performing in England is the ultimate thing- Marvan


by Rex Clementine

The national cricket team left the island yesterday for a two month tour of the United Kingdom. The Sri Lankans will start their campaign with two One Day Internationals against Ireland in Dublin before arriving in London on May 9th. Sri Lanka will play three warm-up games prior to the one off T-20 International and five ODIs. The two Tests take place in June.

Former captain Marvan Atapattu who will coach the side after Paul Farbrace left the job in a hurry speaking to journalists yesterday said that performing in England is the ultimate challenge for a cricketer.

"I always thought that playing in England and performing in England is the ultimate thing for cricketers. That’s where you register your name and make a name for yourself. Players know that and I know they will give their hundred percent," Atapattu told journalists yesterday at Sri Lanka Cricket headquarters at Maitland Place.

Atapattu has an outstanding record in England in both forms of the game. He played four Tests including the historic 1998 Oval game where Sri Lanka won their first Test in England. Four years later, he smashed a brilliant 185 at Lord’s in the opening Test of a three match series. His career best score in ODIs also came at Lord’s when his unbeaten 132 set up victory in the Emirates Cup triangular tournament final over England. Marvan’s Test average of 50 in England is way above his career average of 39.

The coach dismissed suggestions that Paul Farbrace’s defection to England ranks gave the hosts undue advantage. "I would like to think that we are a professional unit. The game is played out in the middle not outside. The guys we have are lot more experienced. They will handle pressure well. It’s a huge disadvantage no doubt. He knew the plans we had for England. But the plans are executed in the middle in cricket."

Sri Lanka’s preparation ahead of the tour has been meticulous. They trained leaving grass on the wickets and Dukes balls that are used in England were imported to be well prepared for the challenge.

"We have had about ten days of preparations ahead of the tour including physical training and net sessions. Everybody is ready and we gave everyone a good break before we started training. Most of all having a few youngsters for the first leg of games in Ireland is good. Not only does it give the seniors a break but we will also see some young talent blossom hopefully."


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