Giving up the game when ‘there’s nothing left in the tank’



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Off-spinner Akila Dananjaya will miss Sri Lanka’s both opening round matches of the Asia Cup campaign due to personal reasons.


BY MAHINDA WIJESINGHE


At the moment cricket fans are awaiting the Asia Cup 2018 due to begin on September 15 with Sri Lanka placed in Group B alongside Bangladesh and Afghanistan.


Unfortunately Sri Lanka is starting on the wrong foot with Chandimal on the injured list while Akila Dananjaya will in all probability miss two games and has informed the selectors to excuse him since he wants to be present when he is due to become a father for the first time shortly. Family comes before profession is a motto he is following. In this time and age, modern technology enable doctors to predict births almost to the date. Taking this into account, Dananjaya has taken the right decision by the family and the team. Opting out of the tour, at least where two games are concerned, before the tour begins is the correct decision. Going on the tour and baling out halfway is obviously not this youngster’s style. Well done Dananjaya, you have set an example even to your seniors. Let me wish you the best of luck as a father and as a player when you rejoin the team.


The recently concluded Provincial T20 tournament has revealed the batting skills, especially of skipper Upul Tharanga who led Team Colombo to championship honours, and that of Dasun Shanaka of Team Kandy.


Tharanga seems to have found his touch in a remarkable manner, aggregating 414 runs, inclusive of two centuries at an average of over a 100. There were two unbeaten innings helping him to attain this average. This is of course due to the fact that Tharanga was "there at the end" in successful run chases. This is not all. He hit 32 boundaries and 28 sixes which means over 70% of his runs were scored in this manner. In the final, for Team Colombo, Tharanga blasted 104* runs in just 55 balls (six fours and nine sixes) over Team Dambulla! Similarly, Dasun Shanaka hit 26 boundaries and 19 sixes in aggregating 312 runs in the tournament. There again Shanaka had scored almost 70% of his runs in boundaries/sixes including one century. So Sri Lanka has at least two batsmen who are able to turn the tide in the current form they are in. Let us hope our middle-order batsmen will take the cue and keep the foot on the accelerator rather than remain unbeaten at the end by playing dot balls.


Maybe the selectors have opted not to pick Dickwella for the Asia Cup and include a bowler in his stead especially with another blaster batsman in wicket-keeper/cum opening batsman Kusal Janith being an automatic choice in the side.


The inclusion of paceman Lasith Malinga in the 16-man squad seems to have cleared a lot of controversy, but whether he would be picked for the eventual playing XI is another matter. After all, can he resume bowling his toe -crushing Yorkers at the death and be fleet-footed on the field?


Malinga cannot be ‘hidden’ in the ‘slips’ hence the opposition will always target him for that extra run from the outfield that could easily mean the difference between a win and/or a loss.


Let us now turn our attention to the international scene. England skipper Alastair Cook, the left-handed opening batsman who made a century on his Test debut (against India in 2006) and who has amassed over 12,000 Test runs at a commendable average of 44.88 has decided to call it a day at the end of the ongoing series against India. Indeed, after having played his 161st Test, Cook is the sixth highest scorer in five-day cricket is well ahead of his compatriots Gooch (8,900), Stewart (8,463), Gower (8,231) and Pietersen (8,181).


More than the mere statistics, here’s what he said, inter alia, when he announced his retirement: "Although it is a sad day, I can do so with a big smile on my face knowing I have given everything and there is nothing left in the tank. I have achieved more than I could ever have imagined and feel very privileged for such a long time to have played alongside some of the greats of the English game……. My family and I have had 12 wonderful years fulfilling my dreams and this could not have been done without them."


Cook maintains he will still serve his county Essex in the English County championship. Here’s a professional who has hung up his bat at the right time. Given his decision, fans will not ask him ‘when’ (he is retiring) and not ‘why’ is he still playing!


Maybe a good lesson for some of our cricketers too.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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