Feeling Sri Lankan

Last updated 11:32 09/06/2009

There is a rare joy for a Kiwi in seeing the Australian cricket team get thumped twice in a matter of days. It may be perverse, it may be irrational, it may be hurtful, it may be immature, it may be un-Australian - but it does feel good to see the previously all-conquering Australians return to the pack of international cricket. What a different side they would be with Gilchrist in for Haddin, Warne in for Hauritz, Symonds in for Watson and Hayden in for Warner.

New Zealand has managed to deliver joy occasionally in the past few years, most notably in the "Bond" VB Series, the extraordinary Chappell-Hadlee series where Mike Hussey exterminated his long-term Australian captaincy aspirations, and in February this year when our ODI team pinched a brace of wins at Perth and Melbourne.

In the past 56 hours, it has been the bats of Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara that smacked the Australian Twenty20 team back into their Ashes preparation prematurely. Richard Ponting now has the dubious distinction of being the "losing-est" captain in international T20s now that he is responsible for 10 notches on other captains' belts. Even better, Australia has now strung together a recent record of LLLLL in T20 matches.

Ponting and his unmerry men leave Nottingham for Leicester and two weeks of sulking. Of course, this probably won't excite England too much as the Ockers will be full of fire and brimstone, and seeking redemption against England (and Wales) when the first Ashes Test ball is bowled at Cardiff in three weeks.

Gayle's all-out 27-run assault on Brett Lee at the Oval was an astonishing display: the pull shot to the bouncer was one of the best shots off Lee since Chris Cairns crunched a delivery over the hotdog stand and into Kent Terrace at the Basin Reserve.

The reclined La-Z-Boy of international cricket, Gayle is the talisman for his team. The West Indian bowling is not up to much and is woefully inconsistent but in T20 that becomes less of an issue when you have a batting lineup with a bloke in it who can chase down a million if need be. The NZ side sans Vettori is in a similar vein, although the talisman is shared between B McCullum, big ol' Jesse Ryder and the KFC Kid in our lineup.

This morning, at Trent Bridge, the director's obsession with Ponting's reaction to each delivery that sailed past, through or over was fantastic. There were no smiles as Watson, Bracken, Lee, Johnson, then Hauritz were dispatched to all parts.

The unforgettable shot from the Sri Lankan innings was Dilshan's outrageous ramp over the eyebrows of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin - perhaps they could even get the Sri Lankan IPL2 star a shirt with his name on it now. But it was Sangakkara that held the innings together with a controlled captain's knock of 55 from 42 balls. The consecutive sixes in the 15th over off Hauritz were crucial blows, just as Australia threatened to seize the initiative from the lippy left-handed Lankan and his team.

Unlike the Windies and New Zealand, Sri Lanka present a formidable and well-rounded lineup. The batting looks after itself with Jayasuriya not on many bowlers' "must see" lists, while on the bowling front it is the guile of Murali and bamboozle of Mendis that complement Malinga's pace. At $6 to win the tournament, behind IPL buddies India and South Africa, the men in blue shirts with the weird yellow singlet pattern on their backs may warrant closer examination.

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52 comments
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Ben A.   #1   11:47 am Jun 09 2009

I too am revelling in the cricketing schadenfreude this morning :)

Meanwhile, does anyone else think the IPL should forget about obscure non-name Aussies and South Africans and start looking at the associate nations talent pool? Was watching Ireland's great victory last night and the O'Brien brothers can really bat. The Dutch bloke who took it to England must be worth a look too. I reckon the likes of these guys would be potentially real value for money and getting a few more of them into the IPL to join Dirk Nannes might help to develop cricket in these countries, too, even just by helping a few guys to become pro or semi-pro cricketers.

guy   #2   12:02 pm Jun 09 2009

don't forget the "warmup" match we had against the aussies. pretty much full strength sides, and we were cleaned up comfortably. and none of your "talismen" shone.

The Holden   #3   12:18 pm Jun 09 2009

Ben A: Like the idea, but if we think the BCCI gives a rat's about developing anything other than Indian talent (and the BCCI coffers), we're kidding ourselves. The value for money argument is a good one.

guy: Why dwell on a warm-up match loss against a team that ain't in the tournament no more?

guy   #4   12:49 pm Jun 09 2009

@ The Holden #3 - not dwelling by any means, just saying. doesn't look good when we easily lost to a team who's already out.

but that's 20/20 ain't it. one brilliant moment and you're top of the heap, one shocker and it's pack your bags time.

paulimus_prime   #5   01:16 pm Jun 09 2009

Chris "straight outta compton" Gayle is NOW my favourite player taking over from Shewag as just a complete and obliterating batsmen - those 2 sixes out of the stadium were awesome! Especially the one that went over the light tower - MASSIVE!!!

Danny   #6   01:20 pm Jun 09 2009

I guess I shouldn't be shocked it took so little time for you to get this piece up, yeah? But, hey, I let out a little cheer here up here in New York, so it's not like I'm complaining. Like guy basically says above, it T20 really is a bananas format, isn't it?

Ace   #7   01:34 pm Jun 09 2009

I liked the pull shot off the 'bouncer' from the last ball as that was Lee looking for blood and getting smoked. Hard to believe there were two dot-balls in the over: 6.6.4nb46 - outrageous.

Steve   #8   01:39 pm Jun 09 2009

Which brings me to the question Holden: What is 'Australian' and what is 'un-Australian'? Because I see Kim Hughes said Symonds' behaviour was 'un-Australian' and Dean Jones said he was 'too Australian'. No wonder Symmo is confused. Apparently he was seen at Skilled Stadium on Monday night at the Titans v Dragons game sucking back a jar. Brilliance.

Blackcaps1   #9   01:50 pm Jun 09 2009

I think more kudos should be given to the Windies bowlers - i think their strike partnership of Taylor and Edwards have improved greatly recently - just wish they worked on their fielding which was almost as legendary as Scotlands!

Aussies are now like most teams (including New Zealand) some inconsistent stars and a few above average players - still cant fathom the Watson opening strategy - especially with the inconsistency of Messers Warner and Ponting of late.

selectors must be rueing the ousting of Hayden perhaps a season prematurely.

Whats happened to a drink after the game - sure he might have his problems - like watching the footy and having a beer or 3 but Symonds exclusion will no doubt be a contributing factor as the middle of the lineup lacks punch where its needed.

go the Caps - lets hope we can put up a good fight tonight against SA!!

thats our bogey team

The Holden   #10   02:15 pm Jun 09 2009

Steve - I have no idea about the un-Asutralian thing, but I love the sheer relentlessness with which it crops up. I am sure the definitive answer is somewhere... http://www.unaustralia.com/ Bcaps1 - Not sure about that kudos distribution you've got going there. Taylor and Edwards have been getting slapped about by the Poms for weeks haven't they?


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