Windies bid to do Sobers proud in Sri Lanka

Thursday, 22 October 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Former West Indies cricketer Garfield Sobers (R) and former Sri Lankan cricketer Michael Tissera pose for a photograph with the Sober-Tissera trophy, which is for the ongoing Sri Lanka and West Indies test cricket series, in Colombo October 21, 2015. Sobers and Tissera are in Sri Lanka to witness the upcoming second test match between Sri Lanka and the visiting West Indies. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

AFP: The West Indies will look to the legendary Garfield Sobers for inspiration as they bid for an unlikely series-saving victory when they take on fellow strugglers Sri Lanka in the second Test in Colombo on Thursday.

The tourists have yet to win a Test in Sri Lanka at 10 attempts and they suffered an innings defeat last weekend in the first Test in Galle where veteran spinner Rangana Herath took 10 wickets in the match.

The 79-year-old Sobers, widely regarded as the greatest allrounder ever to have played the game, is in Colombo to watch the second and final Test at the P Sara Oval alongside Sri Lanka’s Michael Tissera.

The two men were rival captains when the then Ceylon played the West Indies in an unofficial one-off Test at the same venue in 1967. Sobers was the star of the show, hitting a century in a rain-affected match.

Back then, the West Indies were on the cusp of a lengthy period of domination in international cricket while their hosts were still some years away from attaining Test status.

The West Indies however have not found Sri Lanka a happy hunting ground since they played their first official Test on the island in 1993. 

Now the West Indies are only above Bangladesh in the league table of regular Test playing nations while Sri Lanka are one notch above them in seventh place.

Sri Lanka are going through a rebuilding phase after the recent retirements of star batsmen Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

But they were still far too strong for the visitors in Galle who were let down by sloppy fielding as well as a failure by most of their batsmen to build a big innings despite making starts.

While the West Indies are expected to be unchanged, skipper Jason Holder has acknowledged that his batsmen need to show more application.

“At this present time, we need to knock it down, we need to take it slower and slow down the game as much as possible – simplify it as much as possible, and make it easy for us,” said Holder, who is in his first series as captain.

‘Don’t get dejected’

 “I have full confidence in the guys. I just told them: ‘Don’t get dejected, it’s not the end of the world. We have another Test match to make amends and come back stronger’. We will push for that one-all draw.”

Like Sobers, Holder hails from Barbados and is looking to put a smile on the face of a man whom he has described as “one of the greatest to play the game”.

In contrast, Holder’s opposite number Angelo Mathews is wary of dwelling on the past and has spent the build-up to the match speaking of his satisfaction at his team’s response to the recent retirements.

He was particularly delighted with the performances of Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne, who both scored big hundreds in Galle.

“We can’t keep talking of the past all the time,” he said.

“After Sangakkara and Mahela left the team, we needed those guys to stand up and take the responsibility. I’m glad that they did it.”

The main question for Sri Lanka’s selectors will be whether to keep faith with off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal who only took one wicket in Galle. The experienced Dilruwan Perera would be a like-for-like replacement

Batsman Lahiru Thirimanne is also vulnerable after a run of low scores, with the uncapped 20-year-old Kusal Mendis waiting in the wings.

 Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Rangana Herath, Dhammika Prasad, Kusal Perera, Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Pradeep, Tharindu Kaushal, Suranga Lakmal, Dilruwan Perera, Milinda Siriwardena, Kusal Mendis.

West Indies : Jason Holder (capt), Kraig Brathwaite, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Rajendra Chandrika, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope, Denesh Ramdin, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Jomel Warrican.

Commemorative coin for Sobers-Tissera Trophy


Michael Tissera with Sir Garfield Sobers - Pic by Bhanuka Kirinde

By Madushka Balasuriya

A special coin has been minted to commemorate the inaugural Sobers-Tissera Trophy. The coin, which bears engraved images of Sir Garfield Sobers and Michael Tissera on either side, will be used for the toss in the second Test between Sri Lanka and the West Indies at the P Sara Oval this morning.

“As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, it’s a huge privilege, honour and, personally, a great pleasure to have the greatest all-rounder of all time with us,” effused Sri Lanka Cricket Chairman Sidath Wettimuny as he introduced Sir Garfield Sobers to media in Colombo last evening. He then turned his attention to former Sri Lankan cricketer and team manager Michael Tissera.

“When I was a little boy I wanted to be like Michael [Tissera]. He was such a graceful cricketer and gentleman. I used to think of him as the complete cricketer,” revealed Wettimuny. 

Sobers and Tissera, who both said they were honoured to have a trophy named after them, then took turns praising each other.

“The man doesn’t talk about himself, but when we played against him he was one of the best players you would have ever seen outside of Test cricket,” said Sobers of Tissera. “It was very unfortunate that he didn’t have the opportunity to play at the level of Test cricket. He was the greatest player Sri Lanka had back then.”

Tissera meanwhile said of the West Indian great: “To be linked with somebody as great as Garry is beyond my wildest dreams. He’s been a fantastic role model and in my opinion the greatest all-round cricketer the world has seen. Watching him walk out to bat, you got the feeling that this was the epitome of an athlete and a cricketer.”

Sri Lanka lead the two-test series 1-0 having won the first Test by an innings and six runs. After the Test series the sides will play a further three One-day Internationals and two T20 Internationals.