Archive for December, 2012


Tributes for Tony Greig: A MAN to have by your side

December 30, 2012

Tony GreigI.  Aubrey Kuruppu: Tony Greig – A Personal Note

It was the Bard of Avon who said the ‘evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones’. Being human, Tony must have had his foibles. I would rather dwell on the good. I first encountered him when Central Province played a one day match against the MCC in 1973. Tony had earlier rattled the roof of the old Asgiriya Pavilion with a six hit or two. There was a suspicion of an edge to a Chris Old outswinger, but umpire Royle Barthelot, unaffected by the raucous din from the slip cordon, ruled in my favour. At the end of the over, the towering figure of Tony Greig was next to me: “Hey! What do you think you are doing? Why don’t you go?” A trifle sheepishly, I cast my eyes down and waited for the storm to spend itself.

My next close encounter with Tony was in the ‘box’ when we shared commentary. He was an international celebrity, whereas I was a fledging broadcaster. To me he was courteous, gracious, very professional and never pulled rank. Whenever we met on subsequent occasions he always hailed me, held out his giant right hand and asked “Are you well?”

Tony was charismatic, colourful, controversial and confident. He loved a challenge, though he may have got it wrong when, as England captain in 1976, promised to make the West Indians grovel. His competitive nature was evident when he threw down the stumps (almost at the end of the day’s play) to run Kalicharran out at the non-striker’s end. The decision was overturned to enable play to restart the next day. One man stood beside Greig until the baying of the crowd had subsided. That man was Gary Sobers. Good bye Tony.

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Postmortem on Sri Lankan Cricket: Sidath and Skanda

December 30, 2012

Courtesy of the Sunday Leader where the title is Former Stars, Officials, Call For Major Changes”

The Sunday Leader interviewed some of Sri Lanka’s former test stars and leading administrators over the woeful performance of the Lankan team in the Boxing Day test at Melbourne where the Lankans were crushed by the humiliating margin of an innings and 201 runs in just two and a half days by a rampant Australian team. Those interviewed all called for major changes and blamed the surfeit of limited overs cricket as one of the causes for the lack of application at Test level. Former Sri Lankan opening batsman, former board official and chairman of selectors SidathWettimuny was visibly emotional about the match. Wettimuny was one of the most stylish and technically correct batsmen produced by Sri Lanka and has to his credit some of the best batting performances by a Sri Lankan overseas including a monumental 190 against England at Lords.

SIDATHQ and A Review with Sidath Wettimuny

What are your thoughts on our performance at Melbourne?
It was a woeful batting performance and it clearly shows we are not playing enough test cricket and the longer version of the game – most of our batsmen were guilty of playing strokes more suited for the limited overs game. The match was effectively over on the first day itself and we were always playing catch up after that.  We are showing our mindset is not right and we clearly lack the temperament to compete effectively at test level which is the ultimate form of the game. Without playing test cricket regularly we are doing ourselves no favours by playing in limited overs tournaments and neglecting the maingame – test cricket. Test cricket is the ultimate form of the game and it is here that a cricketer is really tested and can really prove his class. Read the rest of this entry ?


How Lillee reformed Mitchell Johnson

December 29, 2012

Wayne Smith, in the Weekend Australian, 28 December 2012, where the title is “Wilderness to worship: Johnson gets TUFF in Test comeback

mitchell-johnson-bowlingMITCHELL Johnson wasn’t just tough on the Sri Lankans in the Melbourne Test, he was tough on himself. Or, more correctly, TUFF – the mnemonic that Dennis Lillee drilled into him through that long year in the wilderness during which they seemed to be the only Australians convinced Johnson could ever again become a force in Test cricket.Too often, Johnson admitted yesterday, he had allowed himself to be swayed by outside influences but the one voice he always heeded was Lillee, the legendary former fast bowler who became his mentor in Perth.

An uncompromising, tough-love tutor was Lillee, brooking no excuses, tolerating no weakness, not that Johnson ever hinted at either. But the big left-armer desperately needed help. His fast bowling technique had disintegrated, live and on-stage, in front of the world. At times it seemed the bowler honoured in 2009 as the ICC Cricketer of the Year could barely be certain of hitting the pitch, let alone the stumps. What Johnson needed, Lillee realised, was a little bit of uncomplicated Henry David Thoreau philosophy – simplify, simplify! So he unceasingly drilled into Johnson the single word TUFF – standing for Target, stand Up, Front arm and Follow through, each letter a trigger to help him correct an element of his bowling that had gone off-line. Read the rest of this entry ?


Test cricket’s world order in flux as the South Asian countries fade

December 29, 2012

Gideon Haigh, in The Weekend Australian, 28 Decmber 2012

IN a 10-team competition unfolding over years, you can neither fall nor rise all that far or all that fast. But you can also look around one day and find that a lot has changed almost by stealth.  Such is the case with the World Test Championship, which, for tracking fortunes in a game that is the epitome of subtle shifts and gradual advantages, has undergone a remarkable shift in the past two years.

A calamitous Boxing Day Test, concluded less than halfway through its allotted time, suggests that shift is ongoing. Thirty months ago, Test cricket looked very much an Asian game. India and Sri Lanka ranked numbers one and three respectively after a phase of prolonged success at home and defensible results abroad. While unable to host visiting teams, Pakistan was rebuilding, and had probably the world’s hottest pace attack; Bangladesh, a perennial underachiever, had nonetheless not long beaten the West Indies in the Caribbean. Read the rest of this entry ?


Sri Lankan cricket as collapsing circus tent

December 28, 2012

Andrew Fernando for ESPNcricinfo, 28 December 2012 … with PICs from Getty Images

???????????????????????????If there is a moment that captures Sri Lanka’s first Boxing Day Test in 17 years, it is Dhammika Prasad fleeing from the ball as it approached him at fine leg on day two. Michael Hussey had hooked a Shaminda Eranga bouncer and, having failed to pick up the ball, Prasad picked a direction to sprint in and chose poorly. That is perhaps unfair to Prasad, whose drive and desperation did him credit on day two, but Sri Lanka have done the opposite of what would have constituted a healthy showing at the MCG, and in doing so, they have hurtled beyond the merely disappointing and run aground on the farcical.

The sense of humour that Sri Lanka’s fans have developed over the last two years of Test cricket may be the only quality that will see the team retain their support for the third Test. Sri Lanka’s experienced batsmen were called on by their captain to go big in Melbourne and the game plan on a good pitch was to bat first and spend enough time at the crease to bring Rangana Herath into the game on a wearing pitch. Instead, the batting in both innings bore all the stability of a slowly collapsing circus tent. Read the rest of this entry ?


Catches win Matches: One Arena of Difference at the MCG

December 28, 2012

Andrew Faulkner, in The Australian, 28 December 2012 …… writing one day vbefore the final rout

FED up with his teammates’ butter-fingered efforts to take the chances he created during yesterday’s long toil, Rangana Herath decided to take matters into his own hands or, more accurately, hand.  The Sri Lanka spinner took one of the catches of the season – adding to an already long list – to be rid of Mike Hussey in the final session at the MCG yesterday. When Hussey hoisted part-time spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan high over wide mid-on, most spectators assumed Herath was shuffling across to retrieve the ball from the perimeter gutter. Even as the Sri Lankan dived it seemed a forlorn hope. The 40,000-strong crowd was hushed as he went to ground – to raise a left hand clutching the ball, albeit some distance from the centre of the palm.

VIDEO: Herath takes a screamer ='s catch -Getty Images Read the rest of this entry ?


Murali Magic still in force

December 27, 2012

Big Bash League - Renegades v Heat      courtesy of Getty Images in ESPNcricinfo

Big Bash League - Renegades v Heat


The Australian Invincibles at various moments in Ceylon 1930 to 1953 — in pictorial mode

December 27, 2012

06 Bradman and SP Foenander, 1930 A young Don Bradman receives a replica of the Dalada Maligava from SP Foenander, Secretary of the Ceylon Cricket Association, on board ship in 1930 … photo courtesy of the State Library of South Australia where the gift now reposes.

auscric Australian & Ceylon teams, 1930-thanks to Hugh Karunanayake

09 Bradman & Sathasivam

Sathasivam and Bradman toss, at the Oval 27 March 1948 [it being understood that the Aussies would bat first come what may]

11 C'swamy beats Bradman, '48

Sathi Coomaraswamy gets past Bradman’s bat, with Ben Navaratne right up there. Read the rest of this entry ?


Bradman and his merry men in Ceylon, 1948

December 27, 2012

Neville Jayaweera, reproduced from Michael Roberts: Essaying Cricket. Sri Lanka and Beyond, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publishers., 2006 ISBN 955-1266-26-9

DON BRADMANThe image of Don Bradman exercised almost a mesmeric hold over the imagination of my generation, i.e. of those born in the 1930s, in (then) Ceylon. The dominion he exercised was so absolute that even now, sixty something years on, most of that generation would claim that there never was and never will be anyone like the Don taking guard at a batting crease. Speaking for myself, having watched cricket in England during the past thirty summers that I have been living here, I can vouch that no batsman I have seen ever came nigh Bradman.  Neither in run getting nor in amassing statistics, neither in the capacity to concentrate nor in the fleetness of foot, neither in the murderous power of driving and pulling nor in the single minded devotion to the pursuit of perfection, and least of all, as a captain, did any batsman challenge Bradman.  In all these and in much else besides, he remains unique and without a peer. During those thirty years, I have watched every great batsman who played Test cricket in any part of the world, put his batting prowess on display on England’s green fields, and none amongst them can even remotely claim to have played the same game as Don Bradman. The only batsman who even hovered over the horizon was perhaps Viv Richards, and that too in his heyday in the late 1970s tours, but even him, on a scale of 100, where Bradman would be graded at 95, I would rate only in the 60s.

However, while much is very rightly made of Bradman the batting genius, there are two other aspects to the Bradman phenomenon, which discerning critics have written about and to which I shall return towards the end of this article. Read the rest of this entry ?


Lone fighter Kumar Sangakkara gives fans 10,000 reasons to applaud

December 26, 2012

James Faulkner, in The Australian, 27 December 2012

Sanga ct WADE--gettyIN A season of sterling catches it was fitting that yet another screamer was the only way to end Kumar Sangakkara’s Boxing Day masterclass. When, horror of horrors, Sangakkara mis-hit a Mitchell Johnson bumper, Matthew Wade ran at least 30m almost to the foot of the sightscreen to clutch a remarkable catch on an extraordinary day. Wade’s catch rivalled those taken this summer by Alviro Petersen, Nathan Lyon and Johnson himself, with the viewers no doubt delivering the final verdict later in the television season.

Before Wade’s moment of brilliance Sangakkara (58 from 98 balls with eight fours) stood tall and lonely as the wickets tumbled all around. His three hours of defiance soaked up more than a third of the balls faced by his side and his runs comprised more than a third of the total. The standing ovation when he posted his 10,000th Test run – the equal fastest in history to reach the milestone – was the most moving act of the day. This Melbourne crowd knows its cricket and loves a champion.

He reached the mark in 195 innings, the same as Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar and one better than Ricky Ponting. Sangakkara’s straight back was a rod for the Australian bowlers who threw all they had at the No 3 only for it to come back, with tax. Read the rest of this entry ?