Godfrey Dabare sets an unusual record for a curator

Wednesday, 28 April 2021 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

 SLC’s international cricket venue manager Godfrey Dabare (right) in conversation with ICC Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle who is officiating for the ongoing two-Test series between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh


  • Pallekele Test produces first draw after 28 straight home results

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

Godfrey Dabare, Sri Lanka Cricket’s Inter-national Cricket Venue Manager, set an unusual record for a curator when he produced a dead pan wicket at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium that saw the first cricket Test between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh peter out into a high scoring draw on Sunday – the first draw after 28 home Tests since 2014 had ended in a winning result.

The last draw took place at the SSC in the second Test between Sri Lanka and South Africa in July 2014 and since then all the Tests played in Sri Lanka had produced a winning result until the first Test against Bangladesh of the current series.  

What Sri Lanka were looking forward to for the Bangladesh Test series was a wicket with a lot of grass so as to help their seamers.

In the words of the captain Dimuth Karunaratne quote: “Bangladesh has a good spin attack but we don’t have one with (Lasith) Embuldeniya and Dilruwan Perera missing from our line-up. We have a good pace attack with Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Vishwa Fernando and Asitha Fernando so we’ve decided to back our fast bowlers and provide a green top. We played our last series well in the West Indies and we are used to fast bowler-friendly conditions. We know that Bangladesh will struggle on pacie wickets and we have a good fast bowling attack than spin. Our main spinner Embuldeniya got injured in the West Indies and I think this is the best time to produce a grassy wicket and play a good fast bowling attack.”

Although the wicket prepared for the first Test on first appearance had the greenness on the surface it actually turned out to be a mirage because the ball helped neither the seamers nor the spinners of both teams, but literally turned out to be a batting paradise for the batsmen.

Bangladesh skipper Mominul Haque read the wicket right and was not overawed by the greenness it represented and took the bold decision to bat first after winning the toss. The result: Bangladesh ended up scoring a massive 541-7 declared off 173 overs. In reply Sri Lanka piled up a mammoth 648-8 declared off 179 overs, thus making a mockery of the Test match. 

With nothing to play for Bangladesh finished on 100-2 in their second innings, with rain thankfully washing out the final session of the final day to bring the farcical Test to a conclusion. So over the five days a total of 1289 runs were scored for the loss of 17 wickets with one double centurion, three centurions and five scores of over fifty.

Thus Dabare goes into the record books as the first curator to produce a drawn Test match after 28 consecutive wins (14 wins and 14 losses for Sri Lanka) on home soil.

Dabare when contacted by Daily FT was reluctant to comment with regard to the preparations of the first Test wicket and the one that is being prepared for the second Test at the same venue starting on Thursday.

“Before the series commences the captain and coach tell us what type of wicket they require. According to the instructions given to me by the ICC, I cannot speak about preparations of the wicket with anyone, I can say it, but then it can become an issue. We have to prepare wickets according to ICC standards. I made this wicket (for the first Test) accordingly. I cannot say anything about the preparation of the wicket for the second Test because if I say something it may be regarded as ‘match-fixing’,” said Dabare.

One cannot fault Dabare for being cautious for three years ago his name figured prominently over a pitch-fixing incident exposed by Al Jazeera related to the Test venue at Galle for the match between Sri Lanka and Australia played in 2016.

Sri Lanka’s chances of attacking Bangladesh with pace has suffered a big blow with their quickest bowler Lahiru Kumara being ruled out of the series with a hamstring injury he sustained during the first Test. 

With uncapped left-arm seamer Dilshan Madushanka, one of five fast bowlers named in the squad also sidelined by a hamstring injury and out of the series, Sri Lanka’s options for pace are limited to just three bowlers Suranga Lakmal, Vishwa Fernando and Asitha Fernando for the second Test, although the national selectors have replaced Kumara and Madushanka with spinner Lakshan Sandakan and fast bowler Chamika Karunaratne.