Posts Tagged ‘Kumar Sangakkara’

1. Pulse questions

The IPL website guys keep coming up with some hilarious questions to ask on their website.

As an example, for some reason, Robin Jackman seems to have accumulated a cult following during this year’s IPL. It might be because of his genial way of commentating.

One of the questions asked during a match, when he was commentating, was “Would Jackers have been a force in the IPL?”, to which an overwhelming majority answered yes. In another match, to the question “Is Jackers prophetic?”, there was a huge majority saying yes!

Yesterday, during one of the matches, Harsha Bhogle asked Simon Doull whether New Zealand players were nicer than Australians, to which the obvious answer came “yes”! Later in the match, when Brad Hogg was commentating with Simon Doull, the IPL Pulse question was “Are New Zealand players nicer than Australian players?”, to which 88% answered Yes (I’m able to remember the figure since it was such a hilarious question). Doull fell into fits of laughter, while poor Hogg was speechless….all he could say was “I love Indian people”!

 

2. Brad Hogg

For some reason, the commentating team for this year’s IPL seems more tolerable than previous years…

Actually, let me rephrase that : the IPL commentators this year aren’t the type who talk for the sake of talking.

However, there are still a few of those type remaining.

Most notably, Brad Hogg has been absolutely unbearable. He seems to be in a permanent state of excitement (looks like someone’s been put just adrenaline in his water glass instead of water itself) and has a really unbearable accent which makes him sound like an NFL commentator (I have no idea how that comparison came about, that’s the first thing that came to my mind).

Yes, there’s Danny Morrison as well, who has been in a permanent state of excitement since IPL 2008. However, he doesn’t always resort to stating the bleeding obvious all the time. Instead, his excitement does provide for some good entertainment.

It really IS difficult to describe why, but I just can’t seem to stand Hogg’s commentary…maybe it’s because of the combination of ‘stating the bleeding obvious’ and ‘hyper-excitement’ that makes him terribly unbearable.

 

3. Lack of crass commercialism

This IPL has been much more entertaining than the previous year. A number of reasons for this:

–          No ads in between overs

–          No flying balloon

–          No sight of Lalit Modi on TV

–          Lack of crass commercialism in general.

Also, the introduction of the ultra slow-mo camera has made the whole viewing experience much more enjoyable. I’ve always been fascinated by the whole ultra slow-mo technology and the IPL has fed me an overdose of it!

Also, the hiring of Archana Vijaya to the IPL panel has made the viewing experience much more ‘enjoyable’! 😉

However, I do find one of the presenters extremely annoying. There is one called Shabnam, who comes on with an extremely fake accent and asks pretty lame questions. Knock off the accent, ‘gal!

4. Chris Gayle

How does he do it?

This guy is so laid back, he doesn’t have to take any effort when hitting sixes. Even I find it difficult to hit sixes when playing with a heavy wooden bat in softball cricket!

I like watching sixes where there is a genuine effort made (see Paul Valthaty).

I don’t enjoy watching sixes made by guys like Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Kieron Pollard because they all seem to be what we call in Sinhala, “kanaa shots” (lucky shots).

However, there is an altogetherly different pleasure in watching Gayle hitting sixes.

Perhaps it’s the lack of emotion he displays when hitting sixes. From his reaction after hitting a six, you’d think that he’s just played off a dot-ball.

Leave all the poetry aside, I want many more Gayle-storms!

 

5. Kumar Sangakkara

Some ( I suppose, many) will curse me for life for saying this, but I’m secretly happy that Sanga is failing as a captain for the Deccan Chargers.

This hate might seem a bit surprising, considering the fact that he led us to 2 ICC event finals during his captaincy.

However, what really irked me was when people started ‘mourning’ the loss of ‘one of the best leaders we ever had’ when Sangakkara resigned as captain of Sri Lanka.

Come on, anyone who properly observed his fielding tactics and team selections would realize that he doesn’t really have the tactical nous and the likes, which are pre-requisites for captaincy. Yes, he was a good speaker and all, but being able to speak nice and diplomatically doesn’t qualify you in any way as a captain.

Most of the tactical nous that he displayed as Sri Lankan captain was the input obtained from Mahela Jayawardene, so Mahela was actually the captain from 2006-2011, albeit the unofficial one for the last 2 years.

Therefore, I wanted Deccan to lose as badly as possible so that people can realize that, even with a pretty good team, he’s not really all that good unless he has Mahela by his side.

However, Mahela is just unfortunate to be captaining a side which was selected without consideration to the possible team combination. The players whom the team management selected during the auction were mostly the rubbish ones. For some reason, they let most of the good guys go.

Despite the fairly rubbish side that Kochi has, Mahela’s still managed to get them to 5th place, which is 2 places above the Deccan Chargers. I shudder to think how dominant the Chargers would have been if Mahela was put in charge of them!

Personally, I would have had Cameron White captaining the side since he’s been an extremely successful captain with Victoria, leading them to the final every year in the Australian T20 competition ever since it started. Yes, he’s been pretty scratchy with the bat, but a super captain for a shit batsman is a damn fine trade, I say!

Before I spam you with the first post on this blog after Bradman was dismissed for a duck by Eric Hollies,  I would, firstly, like to thank Subash Jayaraman, who has been very patient with me and gone through the torture that comes with working with me i.e. constantly reminding me to send in a World Cup preview for Sri Lanka!

This article was originally written for Clear Cricket.

The last few years have been quite a time for Sri Lanka. As far as limited over matches are concerned, there’s a sense in Sri Lanka that we are finally on the right track to achieving the type of consistency that is appropriate for the calibre of players that we have. Our performances were good, but not world-beating, under Marvan Atapattu. Mahela Jayawardena brought about a sense of ruthlessness, but his poor batting form in the last 1-2 years of his captaincy ensured that the ODI team was lacking direction.

I was very skeptical of how well Kumar Sangakkara would fare as a captain, largely because I felt that he was of the “wedi katha, adu weda” type (translates to “more talk, less work” from Sinhala to English). However, he has proven me wrong on all fronts, as he has been one of our best batsmen since he took over and, for once, I actually look up to him to make a big score for us. He’s led with aggression when required (who can ever forget the 93 that he made against India in Rajkot in late 2009, which, IMHO, was better than Dilshan’s 163) and can bat with caution when required (I feel the instances are countless to specifically mention one).  He has actually become the cornerstone of our batting.

The squad was pretty much on expected lines, although I was hoping against hope that Chaminda Vaas would get picked, considering how well he played in the last IPL and the way he performed as an all-rounder in the English T20 competition last year. However, the selection of the 2 Chamaras, Kapugedera and Silva, as well as that of Ajantha Mendis are what have irked many people in Sri Lanka, but some selections tend to be too baffling that it numbs fans into just praying that the team as a whole performs well.

The openers have a settled look about themselves, Dilshan knowing his role as the aggressor and Tharanga knowing his role as the not-too-aggressive opener. This opening partnership conjures images of the very successful former opening combo of Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu, though, to be fair to Tharanga, Atapattu didn’t really score as fast as Tharanga does.

The performance of the middle order is what I feel will decide how far we go in the World Cup. In Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, we have 2 experienced veterans who can both attack and accumulate as and when the need arises. If any bowling attack can get them out cheaply, then the onus will be on Thilan Samaraweera to bail the team out.

Samaraweera, in my opnion, is one of the most underrated players in Sri Lankan cricket. Ever since Russell Arnold retired (after the 2007 World Cup), Sri Lanka has struggled to find a player who can steady the ship and rotate the strike and ensure that not too many wickets are lost in the last 10 overs. Thilan has the capability to do that, but has not been trusted too much by the team management. Due to the insecurity about his position in the side, he is often caught in two minds, whether to attack or to accumulate. I hope that Sangakkara defines his role clearly as the innings-builder so that he can play an extremely useful part in our campaign.

Angelo Mathews is another player who will play a vital role in the team. In addition to his medium pace bowling, which is perfect for sub-continental conditions, his batting will complement Thilan in being an innings-builder. However, I hope he would bat a little more consistently so that he can play a role as a genuine no.6 batsman.

Thissara Perera is the “boy with the golden arm”, the guy whose bowling seems unthreatening but somehow gets wickets! His big hitting is also something to look out for, though additional consistency would greatly help.

Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara complement each other, as one attacks with his pace and swing, while the other attacks with good old-fashioned accurate bowling. Dilhara, as the reserve pace bowler, will bring a lot to the table if he plays in any matches, with his canny changes of pace as well as his genuinely fast bowling. Murali will want to shine in his last World Cup, so don’t be surprised to see an extra spring in his step. This might be the only World Cup Rangana Herath plays in, so expect him to come in with his big bag of tricks. He is one of the most underestimated spinners in Sri Lanka cricket, but always does justice to his talent when selected (he even performed much better than Murali during the tour to India in late-2009).

Sangakkara seems to favour Ajantha Mendis a lot, I assume, due to his supposed ‘mystery’! For God’s sake, he barely troubled the Englishmen during the Champions Trophy 2009 and didn’t trouble Adrian Barath when he scored his maiden century recently, so I would most probably expect him to get carted all over the place during the tournament and replaced by Rangana Herath (hopefully).

So, to wind this up, Sri Lanka have genuine potential to take home the Cup for the 2nd consecutive time in the sub-continent. There is a good balance of youth and experience, and everyone is fit and ready to fire on all cylinders. It all boils down to consistency!

Prediction : World Cup Winners.

Source


Well, it’s over a month since I’ve written a post. The last post was on Sri Lanka’s victory against Zimbabwe in the group stages of the T20 World Cup and my incredulity on the fact that Mahela was playing like a gem while the others were playing like a blind man groping around for landmarks by which he could identify the place where he is standing.

Between then and now, a lot has happened in Sri Lanka.

Selection Committee

The “legend”, Hon. C.B. Ratnayaka (Sports Minister), having possibly lived in a dream-world where justice is served to those who break it, declares Sri Lanka Cricket as the 3rd most corrupt institute, the first 2 being the education sector (Ordinary Level Exam papers have been printed with plenty of errors) and the police (I don’t think any explanation is required). He promises to clean up the board and appoint a new interim committee with non-corrupt people.

However, CB is forced to do a u-turn. He fires the 2 non-corrupt people in the committee, Pramodya Wickremesinghe (former Lankan fast bowler who played in the 1996 World Cup) and Ranil Abeynaike (former SSC curator and current commentator/journalist).

He re-appoints the 2 most corrupt people in the committee, DS de Silva (former Lankan leggie, married to a woman who’s family is in the gambling business. According to ICC laws, a director of the ICC cannot have any associations with any gambling/betting organisations. Since DS is the head of SL cricket, he automatically becomes a director. Of course, why he is still allowed to be an ICC director is beyond me) and Nishantha Ranatunga (ex-cricketer, brother of Arjuna, known to have taken 33 overseas tours on public expense since appointed last year).

CB also appoints some more corrupt people, details of whom I can’t be bothered to learn. Frankly, who cares? They’re corrupt, that’s all I need to know.

New selection panel appointed

However, one good thing CB has done is appoint a good selection committee.

It is headed by Aravinda “Mad Max” de Silva. I doubt he needs an introduction, but for the benefit of those who don’t know him, he, in his heyday, was the daredevil of Sri Lankan cricket. A flashy strokeplayer, he was the lynchpin of the Sri Lankan batting order in the 90’s along with Arjuna Ranatunga, Asanka Gurusinha and Roshan Mahanama. He was the man-of-the-final in the 1996 World Cup, having made a brilliant century after the openers (Sanath Jayasuriya & Romesh Kaluwitharana) were dismissed with just 23 on the board. Kent players were reportedly in tears when he had to leave after a stint with them!

Amal Silva, ex-keeper. Don’t really know much about him, except that he is one of a very few number of Lankans to have made a century on their Lord’s debut.

Shabir Asgerally. Have no idea about his credentials, except that he played just one domestic 50-overs match.

Ranjit Fernando. I don’t think he needs any introduction. For the uninitiated, pay a visit to this blog, Ranjit Fernando Sucks.

SL wins the tri-series in Zimbabwe

OK, let’s be honest. No-one was interested in this series. Even the Indians weren’t interested and sent a motley crew to the series. Sri Lanka sent a half-decent team headed by Dilshan.

As far as I was concerned, my only interest was seeing how Dinesh Chandimal, Jeevan Mendis and Lahiru Thirimanne played.

The interest in Chandimal is not new to Lankan fans, who have been speaking highly of him ever since his u-19 days. This dude can keep wickets and score big runs. Enough said about him.

Jeevan Mendis has been around for quite a long time, but has, sadly, never got the opportunities to showcase his potential. Though 42 runs in 2 innings and 4 wickets @ 29.75 aren’t exactly world-beating, it’s a good return for someone who’s waited for so long. Besides, he’s a LEGGIE. Currently, our top 3 spinners are all offies (Murali, Randiv and Mendis). Therefore, it’d be nice to have some variety with a leggie who can bat in the top-7.

However, poor Thirimanne didn’t get proper opportunities to display his potential. I really liked what I saw of him in his short maiden innings. However, it would’ve been better to just bench him rather than playing him at No. 7. I mean, what right thinking person would put an opener at No. 7?

Perhaps it would’ve been better to bench the perennially underachieving Chamara K’r’apugedara, who has a pathetic average of 22 after 73 games! I mean, even Rohit “Nohit” Sharma had an average of 25.something after 42 games (of course, he’s upped that significantly with some very good knocks). But, what to do? Politics, politics, politics…..

Chandimal not picked for the Asia Cup

There has been an uproar here in Sri Lanka over the dropping of Dinesh Chandimal, who scored an impressive century against India, for the Asia Cup.

Under normal circumstances, I would’ve joined the chorus. However, we all know that the Asia Cup is just like the Champions Trophy, an ugly sibling whose presence no-one wants to acknowledge but don’t want to insult.

Chandimal’s being sent to Australia with the Sri Lanka A side. Now, this will definitely help him with his development. It is common knowledge that Australia A is quite a strong team. That, coupled with the fast Australia pitches, will really contribute a lot to Chandimal’s learning curve.

The fundamental problem with most of our batsmen is an inability to play on fast pitches. Therefore, hopefully, Chandimal will learn a lot from this tour.

However, had he stayed, he would’ve played on the zombie-like pitches of Sri Lanka against India (OMG, I’m starting to see India-SL matches more frequently than porn), Pakistan (do I need to actually say anything?) and Bangladesh (hmm…). The learning from this tournament would’ve been next-to-nothing!

Sanath Jayasuriya

Ah, the main topic of this post.

Sri Lanka staggered and stumbled like a guy heavily on arrack and realized, “Hey, we are in the semi-finals? Now, how did that happen?”. Of course, their poor performances were bound to catch up and so, the alcohol wore off and Sri Lanka finally realized that they were in the wrong place and got duly thrashed by England.

Discontent among the public on Sanath Jayasuriya’s place in the side continued to rise as he ended up with a miserable average of 3.75 in 6 matches, a sorry average for a player who was declared the man-of-the series in the 1996 World Cup for his amazing average of … and SR of ….

It was well known that, just before the T20WC, Sanga had sent in his resignation after Upul Tharanga’s name was scratched out and Sanath’s pencilled in. The president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, got his son, Namal, to cool down Sangakkara.

It also came to be known recently that it was Namal who called up Sanga during the World Cup and ordered him to send Sanath up the order.

All this resulted in a lot of discontent among the Lankan public. This anger started to go towards the Rajapaksa. Realizing that this could potentially backfire on him, he asked Sanath, after the T20WC, “Didn’t you have enough? Don’t you want to retire now?”

Nooooooooo…….said Sanath. He wanted to play till the 2011 WC. Realizing the futility of this situation, he had ordered the selection committee, headed by Aravinda, to drop Sanath for the Asia Cup and not pick him for any future tournaments. He also told his son not to interfere in any cricket matters anymore.

So, that ends the career of a legend of the game. I still have fond memories of him, of those flicks off his legs, of those amazingly fierce cut shots.

More importantly, he changed cricket for the better. He was the first opener to hit out in the first 15-overs, and changed the ways captains looked at the fielding restrictions. Rather than it being a time where the openers took singles, it is now looked upon as the time when batsmen go hell-for-leather!

It could be said that the dare-devilry of Sanath’s batting spawned the likes of Gilchrist, Gibbs, Hayden, Gayle and Sehwag.

However, all this scorn and shame heaped upon him was of his own doing. He could’ve retired after the 2007 World Cup on a high, when he scored 467 runs @ 46.7 with 2 centuries…..

In the past few years, Mahela has really been a very curious case to follow.

He’s so prolific in Tests and always seems to get a hundred, whereas, when it comes to ODIs, there are just brief periods of excellence and plenty of times when he barely scores runs. Sri Lankan cricket fans will remember the last time he had such a bad drought, which was between 2003 and 2004. Most notable was the World Cup 2003, where he didn’t manage a single double-figure score, despite having played in all but one match.

I’ve recently discovered the wonders of Cricinfo’s Statsguru 2.0 and it’s allowed me to come up with this analysis.

This is a look at how consistent he has been across ODIs and Tests when compared to the 3 other batsmen who have been pretty much the mainstay for the last decade.

I have considered the achievement of an average of 35 and above as a good year. The minimum criteria for a particular year to be considered is 10 ODIs. The stats aren’t too surprising for ODIs. For Jayasuriya, it’s only fair to consider the stats from 1996 as it was in that year that he was pushed up the order.

Mahela Jayawardena – 4 out of 11 years (36%)

Marvan Atapattu – 9 out of 10 years (90%)

Kumar Sangakkara – 6 out of 10 years (60%)

Sanath Jayasuriya – 6 out of 14 years (43%) (had 34.something averages in 2 years)

As you can clearly see, Mahela has been the least consistent of the 4 batsmen. Jayasuriya’s lack of consistency is largely due to the fact that he’s an impact batsman, in that no-one really expects him to play a big innings every match, rather something like once every 3 matches or so.

Looking at the Test numbers, however, Mahela leads the pack. In this, I’ve considered an average of 40+ as a good year. The batsman should have played at least 2 matches in a year. The reason for the low qualification isbecause Sri Lanka generally doesn’t play a lot of test matches. Sanath’s stats from 1996 are only counted.

Mahela Jayawardena – 13 out of 14 years (93%)

Marvan Atapattu – 6 out of 10 years (60%)

Kumar Sangakkara – 7 out of 10 years (70%)

Sanath Jayasuriya –  6 out of 12 years (50%)

As you can see, Mahela is the runaway leader in this table, which clearly shows which format he favors.

What makes Mahela a very difficult case is because, in 4 innings in which he has opened, he has made 2 centuries at an average of 62.50, which is 30 runs higher than his career average. Moreover, these 2 centuries are the only centuries which he has made since 2008, making it a hard choice for the management, especially with 2 in-form openers.

There have been cries of ageism in Sri Lankan blogs, notably in Island Cricket. It is true because, if Jayasuriya had to be dropped, why not Mahela. Jayasuriya at least made a fairly good contribution with the ball regularly unlike Mahela, who rarely every bowls.

The selectors had taken a bold move by dropping Mahela from the original tour squad. I say dropped and not rested because, if a player has a groin injury and is made to sit out, I doubt that he would be in a position to be flown in at short notice to cover injuries to other players.

It does seem that when a number of players got injured (Pushpakumara, Dilshan and Silva), Sangakkara took the chance to fly in his best friend. I can’t imagine the selectors objecting to it as it would’ve been fairly difficult to throw in some more new players at such short notice.

The people here would greatly appreciate it if Mahela could just retire from ODIs gracefully and allow young talent like Dinesh Chandimal take his place.

I really do wonder why players in the Indian Subcontinent tend to stay till they are despised. Why can’t they just be graceful and retire on a high, like McGrath, Warne or Gilchrist?

😦

Looking at this picture really makes me cringe. Is this the same Kumar Sangakkara who is being praised by many people as one of the most level-headed voices in international cricket?

I, too, had a great deal of respect for Sanga due to his smooth talking and his level-headed opinions on many issues.

However, this incident just gives me an ugly reminder of what Ponting generally does.

OK, Younis may or may not have nicked the ball. I didn’t watch the incident live. However, all this is part and parcel of the game. You get some decisions your way and the others against.

However, this doesn’t give him an excuse to go and get into a long argument with Younis. Someone should have asked Sanga about the first ball dismissal of Kamran Akmal, where he was given LBW to a ball that clearly came off the inside edge of the bat. Sanga did, without a moment’s hesitation, appeal and got the decision.

Thank goodness it was the effervescent Younis Khan that Sanga was arguing to. Though Younis wasn’t too pleased, he managed to just give Sanga a pat on the back and send him away. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if it was Ponting that Sanga was arguing to! 😦

The worst part of all this, like S.R. Paranavitana wrote in today’s Sunday Times, was that Saeed Ajmal was docked 15% of his match fee during the T20 for sending off Sanga while Sanga got away with the incident with Younis without a reprimand!

Sanga, for the sake of all SL cricket fans, please conduct yourself in a more dignified manner. Take the example of Mahela, who showed his ruthlessness in marshaling his troops, rather than yakking away with the opposition players!

Pictures courtesy of Cricinfo