Brian Lara once said that if he had to put anyone to bat for his life, it would be Jacques Kallis or Rahul Dravid. Even Lara, who came from the land of legendary Vivian Richards, could not count his life on a player from his own country.
Kallis and Dravid belonged to the rare breed of players who epitomized consistency. The only player in the game to score more than 10,000 runs, take over 250 wickets in both ODI and Test, and with 131 ODI catches under his name, Jacques Kallis no doubt is close to a cricketing miracle. Dubbed the ‘great wall of India’ for his dependability Rahul Dravid, the fourth highest run getter in Test cricket, right behind Kallis, beat even Kallis in pouching catches. With 210 he is the non-wicket keeper to take the highest number of catches, while Kallis has taken 200. In the pool of otherwise loud Indian cricketers Dravid belonged to that rare breed of cricketers who combined talent with discipline. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word.
If one asks a Sri Lankan player among the present crop to name a contemporary to bat for his life, he perhaps would be at a loss forwords. Consistency, unfortunately is becoming a rare feature among the batsmen in the cricketing world. We may grudgingly admit that Virat Kohli belongs to this club, however, much we, the Sri Lankans, hate this arrogant skipper. On the other hand, if one is expected to name a bowler to count on one’s life, without batting an eye lid, one would name our very own, iconic Lasith Malinga. The only bowler to take more than ten wickets in four editions of world cup, two hat-tricks and four wickets in four consecutive balls, Malinga bids adieu to World Cup after re-writing its history in style. Besides, he is also the only one to take three hat-tricks in ODIs. In fact Malinga has been more consistent in the World Cup tournaments than off them. His 4/43 against England at Leeds which gave Sri Lanka its famous 20-run win against the hosts, will be remembered for some time.
Unfortunately, ours is a country where it is the politicians -- not the cricketers -- who bat for our lives. With politicization, corruption and mismanagement ruling the roost of the game here, cricket fans no doubt heaved a sigh of relief when Sri Lanka secured 6th slot in the ICC World Cup points table. It certainly could have been far worse. After all, by the time the team left the shores, we had almost lost every hope and were thinking it would be an accomplishment, if we could beat even Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, ours is a country where it is the politicians -- not the cricketers -- who bat for our lives. With politicization, corruption and mismanagement ruling the roost of the game here, cricket fans no doubt heaved a sigh of relief when Sri Lanka secured 6th slot in the ICC World Cup points table
It’s true that almost all cricketing nations in the world have had their rough patches. The teams with better infrastructure and funds like Australia, England, India and New Zealand, recovered within a couple of months. Without any of these blessings, Pakistan somehow came around by sheer hard work and timely guidance. However, we seem to be taking longer, thanks to an assortment of reasons.
Other than institutionalized mismanagement at the top, lack of attention paid to school and domestic cricket circuits over the past couple of decades, has largely contributed to the dearth of talent in the national pool today.
The filtering system of players from school level to the domestic cricket system, which is carefully maintained with much care and discipline in other cricketing nations, is no more existent in Sri Lanka today.
Besides the drastic drop in the number of domestic matches played here, has deprived even the talented players of the opportunity to impress the selectors. Unless these flaws in the system are corrected, Sri Lanka is unlikely to end the prevailing dry spell in the cricketing arena.