Category: Sri Lanka (page 1 of 16)

So Kumar Sangakkara’s in form then (and not even put off by snapping his bat in half)

Kumar Sangakkara’s last five County Championship innings have been 136, 105, 114, 120 and 200.

Today’s double hundred came in a team total of just 369.

And he wasn’t even put off by snapping his bat in half.

It’s hard to avoid the sense that he’s playing completely the wrong standard of cricket.

We know it’s only mid-season and there are plenty of matches to come, but form like this demands only one thing: that Kumar Sangakkara’s dad get him a Transformer as a reward.

But will he get him one? We doubt it.

Kshema Sangakkara described his son’s four hundreds in four matches at the World Cup as “a good achievement” and went on to outline the yardstick against which he is measured.

“For me, Don Bradman was the ultimate batsman. He scored a century once in every three innings. If you truly consider yourself to be a world-class batsman, you should be able to do that. Kumar did well, don’t get me wrong. But did he achieve his true potential? I don’t think so.”

Tough crowd.

But on the off chance that Kshema’s softening in the twilight days of his son’s playing career, we’re going to recommend that he invest in Ultramagnus as a gift for him.

In vehicle form, Ultramagnus is capable of carrying his mates, so he seems an appropriate choice.


Steve Smith’s brain fades still further, Bangladesh do the reverse

Bangladesh have won nine Tests and we make this their second win.

The convention is to remove matches in which Bangladesh feature from all Test statistics. This seems unduly harsh at the best of times, but it seems even more so when it’s them who you’re measuring.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of omission, we’ve stripped away all of their Test victories that might be disregarded for one reason or another and we’ve been left with their win over England last October and this one against Sri Lanka. Truly, it is Bangladesh’s Golden Era.

For the record, the Tigers’ other seven wins comprise five against Zimbabwe and two against one of those stand-in West Indies teams, which on this occasion featured luminaries such as Omar Phillips and David Bernard.

Meanwhile, over in Ranchi…

Steve Smith has suffered another horrendous brain fade, leading to grave concerns about his long-term mental health. Smith calmly held his bat out of the way of a ball pitching outside leg, only for it to hit his off stump.

If this brain fadery continues at its current rate, it will be but weeks before he’s entirely forgotten how to execute his magnificent double-elbowed chicken dance bowling action. As this is the only aspect of Steve Smith’s cricket in which we take any pleasure, we’d be keen for him to seek psychiatric treatment post-haste.


The South hit the North and the great flattener

Hit the North cover

One of the few things that people agree upon about the lyrics of The Fall’s Hit the North is that one of the first lines is “my cat says eeeeee-ack”.

So what can we agree upon about the South’s hitting of the North’s bowlers today? That it was more successful than the North’s hitting of the South’s bowlers, we suppose.

As for the relative northern- and southernness of these supposedly representative sides, we remain unimpressed. The birthplaces of the North’s batsmen – Hong Kong, Kent, Transvaal, Cumbria, Shrewsbury, Bristol – don’t hint that too many of them would pass our patented ‘butter-bath’ test.

Because what is the supposed North-South divide about, if not monophthongs?

Elsewhere, SHAKIB AL HASAN earned himself a bit of impulsive upper case usage after making a hundred and giving Bangladesh a first innings lead over Sri Lanka. He’s one to watch. Mark our words.

New Zealand and South Africa are also Testing each other. Looking at the scores so far, we’re hoping the pitch is hinting that it might be the kind of flattener on which Nathan Astle did his thing. You never know.

 


Vernon Philander is there if you need some seasoning

vernon-philander

We’ve spent much of the morning trying to work out what kind of a vehicle Vernon Philander is. After much thought, we’ve concluded that he’s not a vehicle at all – he’s a pepper grinder.

South Africa have a lot of whizzy, fancy kitchen gadgets. Dale Steyn is the luxury coffee-maker you always look forward to putting into use; Kagiso Rabada is a new vegetable juicer – novel and good for you, but might yet break down; and Morne Morkel is a big gallumphing lankatron of genial ferociousness who would do all the chopping and dicing you asked of him even though his rampant gigantism puts him in a decent position to say no to anyone at any time.

Philander, by contrast, is a low-key functional object who does his job perfectly.

You need some pepper? Use the grinder – there’s some pepper.

You need someone to bowl at the top of off stump, hitting the seam with every damn delivery? Use Vernon Philander – there’s 152 Test wickets at 21.65.

Philander was away for a while. When he returned, he looked solid-of-midriff and you got the impression that surely now his logic-defying brand of medium-pace would be found out.

Not so. It just never seems to work out like that. People always expected his Test bowling average to swell like a spacehopper at altitude following a few series away from home, but it never really did.

His home record is superior – as it is for almost all players – but his away record is 57 wickets at 25.35. That is, basically, earth-shattering. If it’s built on wickets taken in New Zealand and England then only in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe is his record actually outright bad – and that’s only three Tests.

Vernon Philander endures. Toastie makers and waffle irons may fall into disuse, but pepper will always be ground.

Clinical dobbery can take a bowler a very long way.


Mop-up of the last couple of days – Angelo Mathews still has work to do

For a good long while you could accurately gauge Sri Lanka’s score by whether or not Angelo Mathews was walking out to bat or not. If he was, they were 22-3. If he wasn’t, it was some other score.

A couple of recent batting finds had encouraged the notion that Mathews would no longer be obliged to be his team’s Shivnarine Chanderpaul as well as serving as captain and doing a load of bowling. This optimism may be unfounded, for against South Africa it has been business as usual.

Mathews appears to be back to leading by example regardless of whether or not anyone shows the faintest interest in following. It is at least very thoughtful of the rest of the cricket world to limit his workload by refusing to schedule many matches against his team.

Down in Melbourne, Pakistan are still batting and no-one really knows what it means because it’s still the first innings. Whether theirs proves to be a good team score or not, Azhar Ali’s unhurried rise continues.


Shaun Marsh and his duck tax

It’s common for people to ask: if Shaun Marsh is the answer, what is the question? As often as not, the question is “who’s the selectorial equivalent of a last desperate roll of the dice?”

Australia have not been making runs in Sri Lanka. In the first two Tests their scores were 203, 161, 106 and 183. Against that backdrop, a duck from a top order batsman doesn’t feel too costly – and if there’s a one in ten chance that the duck-scorer might instead make a hundred, you might as well take a punt. Enter Shaun Marsh.

Selecting Marsh is all about what might happen; very rarely about what probably will happen. In Tests, he makes good hundreds interspersed with a hell of a lot of ducks. His first-class record meanwhile is not much better than reasonable, so there aren’t really grounds for optimism there either. You select Shaun Marsh in hope. It’s quite heart-warming in a way.

The problem for Australia is that Marsh inclusion also comes with a cost. For every “he’s finally cracked it!” there’s a long stretch of “oh no, he hasn’t” to bring the world back into order.

The selectors appear to be onto him however. In December, he made 182 against the West Indies. He was then dropped. This has seemingly allowed him to pay his duck tax in the nets because upon his return to the side, he’s made another hundred.

Or maybe this is all part of the Marsh masterplan. Two hundreds in two Test innings might earn him a long stretch in the side to disprove himself. It’s inadvisable to commit to dice-rolling in the long-term.


Pakistan play spin better than Australia

Different matches and – to be fair to Australia – different degrees of difficulty too. All the same, it seems a fair conclusion to draw.

In England, Azhar Ali and Sami Aslam seemed uncertain whether to milk Moeen Ali or just belt him for sixes. In the end, they reached the conclusion that they’d do both. It wasn’t as if the seamers were doing much better. England ended the day looking a bit fast-medium and more than a little tetchy.

Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, Australia folded as if prepared by Miura. Bowled out for 106 in their first innings, they sustained much of the damage in three balls from that homicidal capybara, Rangana Herath, who gummed a hat-trick.

Australia’s woes wouldn’t be half as funny if they hadn’t spent much of the build-up to this series talking incredibly earnestly about their gameplans for facing spin.

“It’s about making sure you have a plan from ball one,” said Steve Smith with conviction. “You’ve got to be able to bat well into the next day,” added David Warner – as if that were in any way an option.


Kusal Mendis doesn’t think they’re gonna need a bigger boat

Once upon a time, a colleague of ours, who we’ll call Gill (because that’s her name), asked another colleague, who we’ll call Stefan (because that’s his name), for help with her computer.

We can’t remember the specific issue. It was just one of those generic computer problems that crops up from time to time in offices throughout the world. Stefan was best-qualified to offer some sort of solution and he was basically sitting next to her.

“Stefan, I can’t…” began Gill – finishing that sentence with a few pertinent details.

Stefan ignored her.

After a few seconds of persevering alone, Gill tried again. “Stefan, how do I…?”

Again, Stefan ignored her.

There were maybe ten people in the room and we all watched in silence as Gill repeatedly pleaded with Stefan for help. Every single time, he blanked her. Gill’s frustration built, as did the tension in the room.

Gill was somewhat combustible anyway, but this was especially annoying. After a few minutes of being blatantly ignored, she exploded. She stood and shrieked at him about what an arsehole he was and then fled from the room.

After a moment, another girl followed her. When she returned, she revealed that Gill was in the toilets crying.

We all sat in silence, stony-faced.

After a few minutes of this, Stefan looked up from his computer, glanced to his right, and then asked: “Where’s Gill?”

It is quite extraordinary to maintain that level of obliviousness to what is going on around you, but Sri Lanka’s Kusal Mendis would appear to be a man cut from similar cloth.

The first Test between Sri Lanka and Australia saw 44 individual innings and of those, just two exceeded 50. This was not an easy pitch to bat on. This was a hard pitch to bat on; a treacherous pitch even. If a batsman had any regard whatsoever for what was happening around him, he would have been spooked. He would have been justifiably spooked.

In that context, Steven Smith’s 55 was a tour de force.

Kusal Mendis made 176.

One can only conclude that Kusal Mendis simply didn’t notice the danger.

All in all, it wasn’t a great match for Australia, but they did at least set a world record: 25.4 overs without a single run scored.

Well batted, chaps.


Kusal Mendis has played an innings

We haven’t seen any of this Sri Lanka v Australia Test. It’s on Eurosport 2 which stopped working a couple of months ago. The prospect of speaking to BT to try and get the channel working again led us to conclude that it is best left unfixed.

We have apparently missed a remarkable innings from Kusal Mendis.

In 1877, Charles Bannerman made 165 out of 245 for Australia against England in Test match number one. At 67.3 per cent, that remains the highest proportion of runs made by one player in a completed innings. Bannerman did however have the advantage of being an opening batsman.

At the age of 21, with just one Test fifty to his name before this match, Kusal Mendis swanned in at number four and made a hundred. When he reached three figures (with a six) his team’s score was just 134. Being as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 117 in their first innings, he had therefore made not just a ridiculous proportion of the runs in their second innings, but getting on for half of their runs across both innings.

Australia made 203 in their first innings. Batting has not been easy. Mendis was in fact the first to reach 50 in the match. At the time of writing, they’ve gone off for bad light but when they return he’ll resume on 169 out of a total of 282-6.

Kusal Mendis has played an innings.


Angelo Mathews’ super durability sorely tested by Super Series

Ill-applied and irrelevant (ironic given that it’s meant to make the individual fixtures more relevant) the Super Series score does at least give us a numerical overview of Sri Lanka’s tour of England. We know that it was an unsuccessful one for the tourists – but how unsuccessful? Well, it finished 20-4 to England, which even when you’ve never seen a points result before is quite obviously a shellacking.

Sri Lanka got half their points when it pissed it down at Lord’s, another for the one-day tie at Trent Bridge and then the clouds gifted them a fourth at Bristol. In effect, they earned one point and meteorology earned three.

They’re not a bad team. They just seem to be lacking the freakishly talented or freakishly unusual players they’ve often had in the past. It’s all been a bit of a slog. We don’t mean slog in a last-over-of-a-Twenty20 sense. We mean it in a long drive to London with ever-increasing volumes of traffic and you’re only going for some sort of pointless business meeting anyway sense – a wearying obligation from which you derive no pleasure and which is highly likely to prove unproductive too.

The captain, Angelo Mathews, has often seemed on the cusp of folding. He could carry on batting, bowling, fielding, captaining and occasionally popping off the field for hamstring treatment, but you’d also forgive him if he concluded life would be easier if he just climbed into a small drawer and pulled it closed.

England meet Pakistan all buoyant and chatty. Sri Lanka head home wishing they had more than a fortnight before the first Test against Australia.


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