Archive for December, 2012

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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 ?

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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 ?

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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 ?

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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 ?

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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 = http://video.theaustralian.com.au/2321230026/Hussey-caught-out-on-34herath's catch -Getty Images Read the rest of this entry ?

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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