Aussies are Back
The Australians will be touring Sri Lanka in August to play a three test, five one day internationals and two T20 series.
The series starts off with two T20 matches in Pallekela, followed by the first One day international in the same ground. The teams then move to Hambantota to play two fifty over games, and then to Colombo to play the final two matches. The scheduled three test matches will be played in Galle, Pallekela and Colombo -SSC.
The Australians, touring Sri Lanka after 2004, are eager to compete with the island nation. While some of the cricketers and officials were moved by the channel 4 footage of the alleged post war crimes, they have been given the green light for the tour. They have added that this is a good eye opener for everyone and the cricketers will tour as true sports ambassadors of the country.
After his disappointing England tour where we lost the test and ODI series winning only the lone T20 match, Sri Lankan selectors headed by former national captain Duleep Mendis have opted to retain Dilshan as captain, giving him another tough challenge, this time on home soil. The selectors have however ruled out the inclusion of lower order batsman and stand in vice captain for the England ODI series Thilina Kandamby, due to poor performance. Pace bowler Dilhara Fernando after an average outing in England and having sustained an injury in the third test at the Rose Bowl will be out of the squad. The new face in the squad will be right arm off spinner Sachithra Senanayke who has been in immaculate form during the past club seasons. Surprisingly Banuka Rajapakse hasn’t been mentioned in the T20 – ODI squad, after displaying some brutal innings for his respective club and provincial teams. It would have been nice to see Chaminda Vass back in action, for at least a farewell match considering the fact that Sanath Jayasuriya was given one. Vassy – one of the most respected bowlers in the world could have had this opportunity to sign off in style against the Kangaroos.
The Sri Lankan squad has a new interim coach – Rumesh Rathnayake, for this tour. The 47 year old former Sri Lanka pace ace has been given the responsibility to take charge of an upcoming side against a wounded Aussie unit. The transitional stage (which includes post world cup, lasting around one year) is always tough for a new coach; especially against an Aussie side that has lately faced many disappointments. Rumesh Rathnayake, having been in the coaching scene for a long time, will know how to groom this young side into a formidable unit. The appointment of the new coach was one of the main tasks the new interim committee headed by Upali Dharmadasa took to take Lankan cricket forward. They didn’t have much time to look for a foreign coach or any other coach since the time period was too short, with Stuart Law quitting right after the England tour.
The Aussies, coming into this series, have a lot to prove under the new captaincy of Michael Clarke, who has taken over from Ricky Ponting. This will be Ponting’s first tour as a regular player and will be playing a support role for Clarky. This tour is similar to a tour made by Steven Waugh’s side in 1999, to Sri Lanka. He was also in the rebuilding phase and compiled a bunch of match winners that kept on dominating world cricket for almost a decade.
Ponting’s contribution at the top of the order will be very vital as his batting position is still not known. Whether he plays at number 3 or the middle orders depends on what his captain feels and the teams requirements. Ponting feels comfortable as a number three batsman since he can take the weight of the team on his shoulders and take on more responsibility. With a lot more cricket in him, he would want to display some of his batting skills when he sets foot in Sri Lankan soil. Cameron White, rather disappointing in the Indian Premiere league as well as the World Cup has been given the captaincy in the two T20 games and will be looking to make a good mark in Sri Lanka. Shaun Marsh and Doug Bollinger, will be making their come backs to the Aussie line up and will be rearing to have a go.
The Sri Lankan cricket board will also try to get back some money flow in to the system as they are in debt ($23 million) after the world cup. This has resulted in minimizing expenses in certain areas, such as reducing the security expenses from fifty million rupees to nine million rupees. The initial budget for the Australian tour was a whopping 300 million rupees and the intended income only 150 million. The expenses have been cut to a minimum of 100 million rupees, with free tickets for the crowds and banquet style meals for the invitees being cut down.
The decision referral system (DRS) will be in place for this tour, but will feature only in the test matches due to the lack of cameras as they will be used in the ongoing England vs. India series. The ICC have made the DRS system mandatory starting October 1, 2011 and the international governing body will assist the Sri Lankan cricket board with any sort of finance to get the new technology in place for the important tour. Unlike the England – India series, the Sri Lankan cricket board might press for the hawk-eye, a talking point in the recent times. Together with the ball tracking technology they will also have the hot spot cameras in place. This has truly been a revelation in terms of decision making and have kept umpires and captains on their toes.
This series will be a new start for both Australia and Sri Lanka, after the World Cup. Aussies will be under a new captain – Michael Clarke and the Lankans will be under a new coach – Rumesh Rathnayake. Tillekeratne Dilshan will be going in to this tour with a lot on his mind, as he has failed to impress SLC with his captaincy. He will have to make a massive contribution to Sri Lanka’s cause, if he is to stay on as the national captain. The responsibility seems to have gotten to him, but hopefully he will come out and shut his critics. This tour will give the local crowd to witness some of the new talent which includes Dinesh Chandimal (in full flow during the ongoing inter provincial tournament) Jeewan Mendis, Sachithra Senanayke, Malinga Bandara (making a comeback to the international scene), Chamara Kapugedera (given a go after the world cup failure) and left arm pace bowler Isuru Udana.
In the last Aussie tour to Sri Lanka in 1999 we saw the emergence of Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Attapattu, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, and Russell Arnold. Let’s hope some of these youngsters in the squad can make a name for themselves and emerge like the players did in the past in this tour and help build a team for the future.
Sri Lanka squad for the ODI’s and T20’s - Tillekeratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Angelo Mathews, Chamara Kapugedera, Jeewan Mendis, Chamara Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Kulasekera, Isuru Udana, Suraj Randiv, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath, Malinga Bandara, Sachithra Senanayake