There’s nothing wrong with fighting talk. Nobody expects a team to write themselves off before a ball has been bowled. We used to pretend we could win the Ashes back in the traumatic 1990s, even though everyone knew we had a chocolate cat in hell’s chance.
However, if you’re going to talk up your team’s chances, at least try to use rational, credible arguments – even if the rose tinted specs are firmly in place. That’s why I’ve got to call out Sanath Jayasuriya for his ridiculous comments about the Sri Lankan bowling attack this weekend.
Here’s the quote that had world cricket followers (and probably quite few Sri Lankans too) rolling in the aisles:
The one department we are really good at is bowling … we have the top best bowling side in the world – five fast bowlers and spinners who are all experienced and very good.
I know there’s probably little point in dissecting this curious claim – just as there’d be little point refuting an argument that the moon is made of cheese – but I’m afraid I can’t resist. Let’s indulge ourselves.
This is the bowling attack that Sanath is talking about. We all know that Herath is a quality left-arm spinner, but who exactly are these ‘experienced and very good’ pacemen? Surely he can’t mean Prasad, Eranga, Pradeep, Lakmal and Chameera? Here’s a quick breakdown of their careers to date:
Dhammika Prasad, 32 years old, 75 Test Wickets at an average of 36.
Shaming Eranga, 29 years old, 52 test Wickets at 35
Nuwan Pradeep, 29 years old, 42 test wickets at 47
Suranga Lakmal 29 years old, 54 test wickets at 49
Dushmantha Chameera, 24 years old, 18 test wickets at 28
I don’t like kicking opponents when they’re down – Sri Lanka lost seven of the eleven tests they played last year – but I’m not convinced Sri Lanka have the best bowling attack in Asia, let alone the whole world.
Chameera is an exciting prospect who bowled very well in New Zealand recently (and he could very well be dangerous) but the others are nothing more than journeymen by international standards. In their test careers to date, they’ve been about as effective as a no snogging rule behind the bike sheds.
Although England’s attack isn’t perfect by any means, let’s just compare Sri Lanka’s pace attack with the three English seamers likely to start the first test:
James Anderson, 433 test wickets at 29
Stuart Broad, 333 test wickets at 29
Steve Finn 113 test wickets at 28.
It’s not even close is it. If Jayasuriya looked up the words ‘experienced and very good’ in the cricketing dictionary, he might well find a reference to these three. Sri Lanka. on the other hand, don’t have the best attack in Asia, and they won’t have the best seam attack in this series either.
However, just in case your hilarity meter isn’t quite full, let’s quickly look at another snippet from Santa’s recent interviews:
The only thing which we are lagging behind is our batting.
Oh I see. It’s just the batting that’s that problem. That’s alright then. Who needs runs to win test matches eh? Perhaps I should call Hollywood and line up a few film roles for myself. I can’t act, and I’m about as handsome as Lakmal’s test statistics, but otherwise I’m the perfect love interest for Scarlett Johansson in her upcoming blockbuster.
So what’s my prediction for the test series then? A comfortable England victory? Erm, not quite. Now I’ve slated the Sri Lankan seamers, and ridiculed their legendary chairman of selectors, a series victory for the tourists is probably guaranteed.
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