Sri Lanka seems intent on killing their cricket culture

2012-11-02 00:00

The fact that Sri Lankan cricket authorities have managed to wangle out of their Test series against South Africa is a massive cause for concern.

Their Test cricket will suffer, especially as they are the most starved of the Test nations.

If one takes a look at South Africa’s bright track record away from home, they certainly deserve the tag of road warriors. What they have been really looking for, unfortunately, is a Test clash against Sri Lanka and that is not going to happen any time soon. It is a real shame that South Africa won’t have the opportunity to right the wrongs of 2004 and 2006. That will now only happen in 2015, instead of July and August of 2013.

To recap, South Africa toured Sri Lanka in 2004 after a four-year hiatus from the island nation that used to be called Ceylon. In 2000, the team was captained by Shaun Pollock fresh from the scars inflicted by Hansie Cronje.

Underdogs by the country mile and outplayed for the best part of the three-Test series, they somehow managed to secure a 1-all draw courtesy of an innings hammering in the first Test in Galle, famous for Marvan Attapatu denying Sanath Jayasuriya a chance to get a century before lunch.

The second Test win, at the picturesque Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy, was a repeat of the Sydney 1994 heroics, this time instigated by Nicky Boje as South Africa snuck an improbable seven-run win.

The succeeding tours were a succession of doom and gloom as in 2004, Graeme Smith’s muddled men were subjected to the ignominy of a 313-run second Test hammering and a 5-0 One Day International whitewash. That led to a 10-match ODI losing streak that was not seen before or since.

They made a better fist two years later, even though Shaun Pollock and company were at the mercy of Kumar Sangakarra and Mahela Jayawardene as they compiled their world record 624-run third wicket partnership.

That was South Africa’s last Test series defeat on the road.

The Indian Premier League and proliferation of less successful and copycat leagues means that the longest form will have to take the back seat.

In 2010, an unwilling Sri Lankan Test side, many stars of which were competing in the IPL, had to leave the lucrative league and fulfil their future tours programme obligations with an early season tour of England. Even at that time, Sri Lanka was playing far less Test cricket than their contemporaries.

For them to have their Sri Lankan Premier League Twenty20 competition in July and August will work out well for them as a South Africa, West Indian and New Zealand component would be in their off-season and that time coincides with the country’s hottest, but driest time of the year.

However, it does injustice to the talents of Sangakarra, Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and an emerging Dinesh Chandimal.

The earlier trio are on the wrong side of 30 and by 2015, their reflexes could well be failing them and one of them could not even be in the picture.

The SLC’s aim of jettisoning Test cricket for a quick buck may come at the detriment of their top quality Test players.

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