Harry Solomons, in www.ozlanka.com, some weeks back
If Australia should win the 2011 Cricket World Cup for the fourth consecutive time, then this achievement should go down in the annals of world sport as one of the greatest ever.Try as I might to think of the positives in favour of Australia, other than their well known “fighting spirit”, I have come to the conclusion that Australia is not going to be that “hot” this time around.
A recent article by the great Ian Chappell quotes the cricket guru as saying there are five favourites for this year’s World Cup – England, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Australia. With due respect Mr Chappell, in my opinion that is hedging your bets somewhat. There are eight cricket super powers if you add in Pakistan, West Indies & New Zealand – and Mr Chappell has picked five of them as favourites with India, as joint hosts, as his main pick.
Well, I am going one better by picking just my two favourites in the Sub Continent – South Africa & Sri Lanka. It is a huge call not to be picking India but I have my reasons and those will come in another article.
Reason one: The Sub Continental factor. The last time the tournament was played in the Sub Continent Sri Lanka won. Fifteen years later they are well placed to repeat the feat.
Reason two: If one was to pick a World ODI team on current form I could possibly only include Shane Watson from Australia. The only other in the running could be Mitchell Johnson and his form, quite frankly, has been cold to say the least.
My World ODI X1, on form, could include Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lasith Malinga and Muttiah Muralitharan. Quite significantly more than the Australian selection. And also in the running could be Tillakaratne Dilshan and young Angelo Mathews on his future potential.
Reason three: The Australians have put their faith in an all out pace attack with Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait and Doug Bollinger – a move that could seriously back fire in the docile spin friendly wickets of the Sub Continent. The Sri Lankans have put their faith in a very good spin attack in Murali, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath.
Remember the 1996 World Cup Final when the three spinners from Sri Lanka, Murali, Aravinda de Silva and Sanath Jayasuriya, completely starved a top Australian batting order to death, to win a perfectly played match? Well, this spin trio from Sri Lanka is even better.
As a matter of fact, Australia’s best two spinners originally picked remain at home injured and their third choice is Jason Krejza, with the assistance of young Steve Smith and the experienced David Hussey and Michael Clarke. Certainly not a frightening prospect for any serious opposition.
Reason four: The Sri Lanka team will be primed to give their champion spinner, Murali Muralitharan, the perfect send off. What better motivation to win.
Below is a rating chart of my two favourite teams, based on current form and reputation. How does this compare with your ratings.
|Ricky Ponting||6.5||Never knock a champion, they come back to haunt you||K. Sangakkara||8.5|
|Michael Clarke||7.0||Getting back to his old self. Can’t knock a Kingsgrove boy!||M. Jayawardene||8.5|
|Shane Watson||8.5||Australia’s best of recent times and getting better||Upul Tharanga||6.0|
|Brad Haddin||7.0||Cannot fault his all round play. Dangerous||Tillakaratne Dilshan||7.0|
|David Hussey||7.0||Experiences & can be a match winner||Chamra Silva||6.0|
|Cameron White||6.5||Needs to go a level up now||Angelo Mathews||6.5|
|Steve Smith||5.5||Still to prove he has what it takes at this level. Another Kingsgrove boy.||Tissara Perera||6.5|
|Mitchell Johnson||6.0||Runs hot & cold – mostly cold! Sub Continent suits his batting, not bowling||Nuwan Kulasekera||6.0|
|Jason Krejza||4.0||Australia’s third pick, can bowl on his day||Lasith Malinga||8.0|
|Brett Lee||7.0||Coming back into good form. Will lift in India||Ajantha Mendis||7.0|
|Doug Bollinger||5.0||A big World Cup for him. He can be dangerous.||Muttiah Muralitharan||8.0|
|Tim Paine||6.0||Super talented, a big future||Chamara Kapugedara||5.0|
|John Hastings||3.0||Lucky to be in the side. Who is he?||Rangana Herath||6.0|
|Shaun Tait||5.0||Can he bowl more than four overs?||Dilhara Fernando||4.0|
|Callum Ferguson||5.0||The big test is on. Can he replace Mike Hussey?||Thilan Samaraweera||5.0|