Depleted Sri Lanka have added motivation to inflict pain on England

Monday, 19 May 2014 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Guardian: For the Sri Lankans Tuesday at The Oval will be a shock to the system. There will be some weighty absentees and this is not a reference to Paul Farbrace’s decision to give up his position as Sri Lanka’s coach to become Peter Moores’ assistant. The absentees are far more significant than that. Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have retired from international T20 cricket. They did so with some style in Dhaka last month, where Sri Lanka contrived a memorable victory over India in the final of the World T20. Better to go then than on a chilly Tuesday in south London, though this pair of little giants will be back on Thursday for the first of five ODIs. Both are minded to play in one more 50-over World Cup. No doubt Farbrace is a loss for the Sri Lankans but in cricket, at least, players win or lose matches, not coaches. In football it is the manager’s fault. On Tuesday Sri Lanka – especially their relatively new T20 captain, Lasith Malinga – will miss the calming presence and advice of Jayawardene and Sangakkara. And they will miss their runs. Even so the Sri Lankans may be motivated by the “theft” of Farbrace. They lack the resources of England; financially they are dependent on the largesse of “the big three” (India, Australia and England); and very often their players are in dispute with their board, usually over remuneration. It is not easy being a Sri Lanka cricketer but they often win anyway. Not only are they World T20 champions. Unlike England they have won a World Cup – back in 1996. And they have produced some of the cricketers of this generation, not just the classically correct Jayawardene and Sangakkara but also the unique ones, Muttiah Muralitharan and, when armed with a white ball, Malinga. In their own part of the world they have become exceptionally tough to beat. Oddly the one match they lost in the T20 World Cup was against England, thanks to Alex Hales thrashing drenched cricket balls into the stands in Chittagong. Traditionally they encounter more problems in England, where the need for thermals and a method to deal with the Duke ball seaming off sappy early-season pitches is sometimes too disconcerting. If anyone reflects Sri Lanka’s determination to succeed on this tour, it is Sangakkara. Why else would he expose himself to the north-east of England in early May? Sangakkara has been preparing for the tour by playing a couple of Championship matches for Durham and he duly delivered a century against Sussex. The tempo will be rather different at The Oval. Sri Lanka may wonder who is going to score their runs, albeit they have only 20 overs to bat, but most of their World Cup-winning bowlers will be on parade, excepting the clever left-arm spinner, Rangana Herath, who is being saved for the Tests. If the sun shines, Sri Lanka will be a threat and a delight and from Thursday onwards everyone should grab the last chance to enjoy Jayawardene and Sangakkara playing international cricket in this country. It was thought that the last of Michael Carberry at international level had been seen (perish the thought, it may be that James Whitaker and his new fellow selectors do not read our sister paper the Guardian) but he has been recalled for the first batch of one-day matches. Whether he plays in the final XI is debatable since the assumption is that Ian Bell, who has batted so magnificently for Warwickshire this season, will play his first T20 match for England since January 2011 before resuming his ODI partnership with Alastair Cook on Thursday. Carberry’s is a confusing selection all round but especially for Michael Lumb (perhaps too old – 34 to Carberry’s 33) and James Vince (perhaps too young at 23).

 Pak to play two Tests, three ODIs during Sri Lanka tour in August

ANI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has revealed that the national squad will play two Tests and three ODIs on their tour to Sri Lanka in August. The PCB revealed that Pakistan would reach Sri Lanka on 2 August and play the first Test in Galle from 6 August, followed by the second Test at P. Sara Oval in Colombo from 14 August. According to the Dawn, the two Tests would be followed by the three ODIs to be played in Hambantota on 23 August, Pallekele on 27 August and Colombo on 30 August. Originally the ODIs had not been included in Future Tours Program for Pakistan’s short tour of Sri Lanka, but were reportedly agreed on the sidelines of the International Cricket Council meeting in Dubai last month. This would be the fifth series between the two Asian neighbours since Sri Lanka had to cut short a tour of Pakistan after terrorists attacked the visitors in Lahore in March 2009, the report added.