Well, I don’t think I have to tell you that Sri Lanka just took the ODI series against Australia with one match to play. Yes, you heard that right, with ONE FRIGGIN’ MATCH TO PLAY.
It’s still sinking in for me. Why?
Because, even though our batsmen have not struggled too much in Australia, it’s been our bowlers who have let us down. It’s largely due to the fact that our bowlers find it difficult to adjust to the bouncy pitches of South Africa and Australia. However, we never have this problem in England or New Zealand because the focus in these countries is more on good swing bowling, which our lads can do pretty well.
What’s been the reason for the turnaround?
In my honest opinion, perhaps this series win is the only real benefit we’ve got out of Trevor Bayliss as a coach. His record as coach has been pretty piss-poor during since he took over from Tom Moody after the 2007 World Cup. We’ve never been as bad as West Indies, neither have we been as consistent as we should be. However, I’m pretty sure that it was Trevor, along with the expertise of the batting coach Stuart Law, that helped us get this series win.
However, it would be criminal on my part if I didn’t mention Champaka Ramanayaka, the bowling coach. Initially spurned by our Board, he plied his trade with Bangladesh, the results of which have been showing for quite some time now. Finally, realizing their stupidity and shedding the thought that local coaches are not good, he’s been picked and what a find he has been.
He’s made Malinga much more fit and consistent, he’s turned Kulasekara from a subcontinent-only bowler to an all-pitches bowler, he’s even done a lot of good with Thisara Perera, whose bowling wasn’t really much to write home about when he came into the side.
Sanga should also be applauded for literally leading from the front with his aggressive batting. Sanga has, until recently, never really done justice to his batting talents, often getting starts and not converting them into something useful. However, I’ve seen a real change in him since he’s taken over the captaincy. He’s looking to take the attack to the opposition bowlers rather than just milking singles even when there are boundaries for the taking.
I’m sure people who watched the two matches closely enough would have noticed that Sangakkara always appealed when the ball was going wide. I presume this was to ensure that the umpire wouldn’t call a wide. I found this pretty daft, but funny!
A really good tour for SL Down under ended with the last ODI at the ‘Gabba. Ricky was sent to play a FC match with the Tassies, and poor Clarke captained again. Clint and the rest defeated the disinterested Lankans but does nothing to diminish my joy.