Archive for August, 2012


That fantastic last over! That fantastic feeling! Slam, Swat, Swish from Ish Sodhi – Kiwi extraordinary

August 22, 2012

Geroge Binoy, in ESPNcricinfo, where th e title runs “‘We all dog-piled onto Ish’ – Cam Fletcher” … after a 50th over which went 6-1-1-6-2-4

New Zealand’s No. 8, walked out to bat with his team needing 26 off 15 balls to win the quarter-final against a formidable West Indian pace attack at Endeavour Park. As he went in, Sodhi says his coach Matt Horne gave him a wink; he winked back, and doesn’t really remember too much after that. “Yeah. Especially because we lost Cam Fletcher, who was in,” said Sodhi, when asked if he felt that 18 runs off the last over might be too many to get. “He was on 49 and after that I felt a little bit of pressure, but when it came down to the last over it was do-or-die really. Nothing else really crossed my mind.”

Chasing 238, the equation had come down to New Zealand requiring 22 runs off the last two overs. Ronsford Beaton, one of the best bowlers of the World cup so far, was bowling the 49th. He conceded only four runs off the first five balls, and had the well-set Cam Fletcher caught off the sixth.

Before this match, Sodhi had scored nine runs in two innings in the World Cup. He hit the first ball off the last over, bowled by allrounder Justin Greaves, for four but New Zealand managed only two off the next two balls, leaving them 12 to get off the last three. Read the rest of this entry ?


Another Lankan mystery spinner, Akila Dananjaya Perera … A triple promotion from nets to the big league

August 21, 2012

Michael Roberts

Pic by Ron Gaunt of Sportzpix

This essay is premature. So, too, is Akila Dananjaya alias Mahamarakkala Kurukulasooriya Patabendige Akila Dananjaya Perera. He is so “unripe” and little known that I could not locate him in one’s recce journey is confused by the presence of umpteen Pereras and one KAK Dananjaya as well as one RKGD Dananjaya or Rankoth Gedara Krishan Dinidu Dananjaya.

The story goes that he cropped up as a net bowler for the Sri Lankan players somewhere [WHERE precisely?]; and that he so impressed Mahela Jayewardene that he asked the selectors to include him in the Squad of 30 listed for the forthcoming T20 tournament.

In brief, here was an 18-year old lad who had not played for a club at any professional level pitchforked upwards into the highest ranks in one hell of a trampoline scoop. It is a tale of rags to riches that outdoes the magical story of one Lasith Malinga, whose performance at the nets in Galle so frightened and impressed Marvan Atapattu and  Mahela that they promoted his rapid rise into the A team and then the First Fifteen touring Australia.

Akila Dananjaya’s sudden emergence in this manner raised hackles in sports writer circles. He is now making these good men eat their doubts. His performance for Wayamba United in the matches thus far have been excellent. T 20 is a lottery and many bowlers who return super-figures on one day are taken to the cleaners the next day. Though Sohail Tanvir has cut a swathe through some sides, he too had one bad day. Not so MKPAD Perera thus far: 0 for 24 vs Uthuru Rudras; 2 for 20 vs Uva; 2 for 16 vs Basnahira Dundee; and 3 for 18 vs Nagenahira.  In the result his overall figures up to this point are 4 matches, 16 overs, 77 runs, 7 wkts at an average of 11.00 and E/R of 4.81 and S/R of 13.7. Read the rest of this entry ?


Andrew Fernando reviews the Sri Lankan Premier League at half-way stage

August 21, 2012

Andrew Fernando in ESPNcricinfo, 20 August 2012

Considering the sheer number of complications the SLPL has suffered since its inception, it may not be unfair to say that if the SLPL had been a baby, its parents would probably have put it up for adoption. If it had been a racehorse, it would already be glue. If it had been the Millenium Falcon, we may never have even discovered that that small moon was really a battle station.

 Pic by Ron Gaunt of Sportzpix

The tournament’s biggest overseas drawcard withdrew before the commencement; the SLPL’s website was hacked and defaced during the opening ceremony; a tape alleging corruption in one of the franchises had emerged; the tournament has failed to attract decent crowds, and has largely been boycotted by the local media who have opposed it for being ‘too Indian’; and most recently, allegations of sexual misconduct between an employee of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and one of the organisers have added yet another serving of tournament kryptonite. In just over two weeks, the SLPL has combined the criminality and scandal of The Sopranos, with the viewer interest of Halle Berry’s Catwoman. Read the rest of this entry ?


A determined and elegant gentleman cricketer, VVS Laxman — two appreciations

August 21, 2012

I:Style + Substance = VVS Laxman” by Suresh Menon in The Island **

There was a vulnerability about VVS Laxman’s batsmanship, a delicacy, that somehow enhanced the brilliance of his strokeplay. It made him the most loved of the middle order in India’s golden age. Laxman was a throwback to an era of silken batsmanship, of velvet touches and all-round grace. The men around him among India’s Fabulous Four, were held in awe; Laxman’s apparent fragility made him all too human, and therefore loveable. People who had never met the man spoke of his gentleness, their opinion based on nothing more than his cover drive or the ability to play the leg glance in the old-fashioned manner.

Mentally, he was as tough as the Tendulkars, Dravids and Gangulys who formed that middle order, but he seemed to whisper his instructions to the ball to send it screaming to the fence where the others tended to shout at it. Soft hands, a benign attitude, a fine touch — yet the ball left the bat with the air of someone rushing for an appointment he is late for. If a portrait of Indian cricket were to be painted, pastel colours would best represent Laxman, a cultured man who dealt in cultured strokeplay.

As befits a team man, his greatest fans were within the team. During a 353-run partnership in Australia, Tendulkar (who made 241 in that innings) said, “I just decided I was going to stay there and watch from the non-striker’s end.”

It was a vantage point much favoured by his colleagues. Dravid said of Laxman’s batting during their 376-run partnership in Kolkata which turned a Test match against Australia, “I enjoyed it from the other end. It was like watching a highlights package.”

Batsmen like Laxman do not assert their command in averages or in consistent centuries, yet tend to play the defining innings of an era. That 281 in Kolkata inaugurated the golden age of Indian cricket, and was voted time and again as the best innings played by an Indian. There is no record of his skipper Sourav Ganguly telling his players, like Donald Bradman did when Stan McCabe was batting at Nottingham, “Come and watch this, you will never see the likes of it again.” But the comparison is not so much with McCabe’s batting, as with the fact that even in the Bradman era, the two or three defining innings were played by McCabe. In the Tendulkar era, Laxman’s 281, his 167 in Sydney, and the 96 in Durban were the defining innings. Read the rest of this entry ?


Murali on Laxman: “I rarely managed to get the better of him”

August 21, 2012

Muttiiah Muralitharan, in The Island and Indian Express

I am truly sad that V.V.S. Laxman has retired. And a tad surprised too. I was expecting him to play against New Zealand, but, well, he’s made his decision and I respect him for that. Laxman is easily one of India’s greatest players and in my book, among the best players against spin of all time. We had great many battles against each other, and rarely did I manage to get the better of him (Muralitharan dismissed Laxman only twice in 10 Tests against each other). He was a very difficult batsman to bowl to. Even the great Shane Warne struggled against him. And the same goes for me.

He had a very unusual style of playing against spin, and I knew that the only chance I had against him was early on. Once he got used to the wicket, there was no stopping him. No doosra or any other weapon seemed to work against him. He always knew what I was bowling, and was forever ahead of the game. And I have sat back and enjoyed all of his amazing innings against Australia, the 281 in Kolkata being my favourite. Read the rest of this entry ?


SIXTH Logo for the London Olympics … Luke Macgregor’s remarkable achievement

August 16, 2012



The Pietersen Petrel: Mike Atherton’s measured review

August 16, 2012

Mike Atherton, from The Times and The Australian, with apologies for a change of title from that used:Too much at stake for Kevin Pietersen and England’s permanent divorce”

 Pietersen -Pic from AP

IT is unlikely that the England and Wales Cricket Board keeps records for the longest selection meetings but there is a good chance the one concluded yesterday, with the announcement of the squad for the final Test match, wins the gold medal.  Inevitably the man who caused the disruption was Kevin Pietersen and the upshot of three days of discussion is that he has been dropped from the squad for Lord’s in a match that England must win to retain its No 1 status.

This has been a remarkable few days, and Pietersen’s axing will go down in the annals of famous non-selections, such as Ken Barrington, disciplined for slow scoring after hitting a hundred in a Test in 1965. The omission of the best player in the team, who only a week ago played one of the greatest Test innings seen in recent times by an England batsman, demonstrates just how far the relationship and trust between Pietersen and the rest of the England team and the management has broken down. Read the rest of this entry ?


Warne and Pietersen situations compared

August 16, 2012

Peter Lalor, in The Australian, 16 August 2012, where the title isHow Warne avoided dressing room chaos which has claimed Pietersen”

IRONIES abound in the Kevin Pietersen soap opera.While the first of them is that a South African in exile has caused such chaos in the middle of a Test series against his home country, this story has more layers than the Inghams – and more feathers. Not the least of the ironies is the interjection from Pietersen’s pal, Shane Warne. The pair became good friends at Hampshire and shared a hairdresser during the 2005 Ashes series. Warne might see some parallels in his mate’s situation.The Australian champion leg-spinner had personal troubles with texting, a fact celebrated in the song What an SMS I’m In from Eddie Perfect’s show Shane Warne: The Musical. Read the rest of this entry ?


Ajit de Silva, master spinner … and his lesson for today’s cricketers

August 14, 2012

Nirgunan Thiruchelvam, in The Island, 14 August 2012

In little over a month, Sri Lanka will host the World Twenty20. It has been 30 years since the island’s inaugural Test. Neither Twenty20 cricket nor Sri Lanka as a host of a world event seemed in prospect in 1982. Most of the current players were not born then. They should heed the lessons of the tragic hero of that match — Ajit de Silva.

Ajit de Silva was the finest left arm spinner that Sri Lanka has produced. He had nagging accuracy, biting turn and a lovely loop. Standing over six foot, he could extract bounce from the tamest track. De Silva was a master of drift, a quality that made him a formidable customer irrespective of the surface. His deliveries used to hiss in its flight. They were like grenades once they pitched. Only Erapalli Prasanna, among Ajit’s contemporaries had that ability among finger spinners.

Ajit de Silva’s first class statistics are solid but unremarkable. He took 161 wickets at 27 a piece in 53 matches. A ten wicket haul eluded him. But, the figures are misleading. His appearances were infrequent. Sri Lanka’s club cricket was not recognized as first-class. The statistics do not record his dominance. Club cricket was more intense in the 1970s and 80s than today. There were only a dozen clubs, which is half today’s number. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Mannar Premier League and the Star Eagles

August 13, 2012

Over the past 18 months or so I have been brought into contact with the individual initiative of Jeremy Liyanage of Melbourne in sponsoring a community development programme in Mannar town and Mannar island. I visited Mannar in November last year in order to get some sense of this work while also indulging in sightsseeing as this was my first ever visit to that locality. The aid programme will be featured elsewhere – on THUPPAHI – eventually; but I focus here on cricket.

During my visit I met young Mayoorian, part of a family who hosted several of Jeremy’s visiting group of observers and helpers (including Professor Siri Hettige and Nirmala de Mel). Mayoorian is a cricket fanatic and showed me some of his cricket team’s photographs. He is a member of the Star Eagles and now features in a sponsorship video in hip-style which has been developed by the Mannar cricketing enthusiasts to promote the Mannar Premier League. See

No better introduction can be provided for this effort than a short memo which Jeremy sent me and Skandakumar recently as we sought help from cricketing friends for this local effort. Michael Roberts

  Read the rest of this entry ?