Related Link : VB Series 2005/06
As Tom Moody and co finally seem to get their act together in Australia, I felt it the right time to write about their gradual upward movement in the improvement graph. I would tend to think that a tour of Australia was the right sort of tonic this team needed to get out of the rot they were going through earlier in India and later in New Zealand.
It is indeed satisfying to see Sri Lanka come out of their blues in a positive fashion. What really was impressive to see from the Lankans was the attitude and character they showed throughout the VB Series. In India, it was really disturbing to see them repeat mistakes over and over again. I mean Sangakkara getting out mistiming the hook three times in 7 games was not called for and was a true reflection of the mental state of the Lankans – just to see the tour through. Similarly in New Zealand, where the conditions and the opposition surely got the better of them. So, what is it that is taking Sri Lanka to new and newer heights in Australia ?
Firstly, the emphasis of the team management is purely on improvement and nothing else. Sri Lanka can learn a lot from this tour purely on how to better their own standards previously set. I am reminded of the Indian policy of trying newer talents in the highest level, and if anything Tom Moody has taken some leaf from Greg Chappell’s book to test the bench. Youngsters like Akalanka Ganegama and Nuwan Kulasekara were sheer unheard quantities, but the very fact that their feat in the domestic competitions have been recognized and opportunities given subsequently shows the confidence they have on their youth. This was surely the kind of shake-up Sri Lanka cricket needed if they wanted to get going and has vindicated the amount of faith entrusted on them by the authorities. Non-performers like Upul Chandana and Avishka Gunawardena have been shown the way out. And more importantly, there is one eye on the future, which has given them a new leash of spirit needed to bring about the desired improvement.
There is clearly a sense of purpose within each and every individual as he strides out onto the field – something that clearly was lacking in both India and New Zealand. The mindset towards approaching the game has totally changed, and for the good. And the familiarity with new rules has alarmingly increased. The Lankans were pretty much dull with their knowledge of the Super-Sub and Powerplays, but with so much of international cricket being played with these rules, the bug has finally caught with them. Its good to see the tact the Lankan stratagem is using in applying these rules. Malinga Bandara is being more than a handy super-sub and as their knowledge of the rules are getting better, so is the progress. Conditioning of the team under these new rules might have come late, but the positive is that the process has begun.
It may not be the experience of Jayasuriya that they lacked in India, but the support factor. Their tour to India was in a way a reflection of an environment they weren’t used to playing in. But, as we know, Australia has been a haven for Sri Lankan support. With expats pouring from the island to Australia, one thing they can expect is sheer support. Wherever they have been going, thousands of Sri Lankans leaving their work at bay have been coming to grounds to support them. Nothing bigger than a large contingent of your countrymen to back you during difficult times. This has surely gelled with the Lankans whenever they have been to Australia and perhaps why they have been a major thorn in the Australian camp.
Although they have a fair bit of work to do to “get there”, the journey of improvement must continue. Having beaten Australia in Sydney is perhaps the biggest morale-booster, but the most important thing will be to maintain this performance consistency. Yes, it was a big achievement considering the phase they were going through, but they cant stop there. It will be really interesting to see if that win acts as a much-needed catalyst to revive the Sri Lankan fortunes in International Cricket. I am personally very optimistic about their future, but for me, improvement is the key word to success for Sri Lankan Cricket.