Spins and Grins: Diarizing the Third Test at the SSC

Gomin Dayasri’s Diary on the THIRD TEST at the SSC 

Australia's captain Steven Smith (C) and teammates look on during the presentation ceremony after Sri Lanka's victory in the third and final Test match between Sri Lanka and Australia at The Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) Ground in Colombo on August 17, 2016. / AFP / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia’s captain Steven Smith (C) and teammates look on during the presentation ceremony after Sri Lanka’s victory in the third and final Test match between Sri Lanka and Australia at The Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) Ground in Colombo on August 17, 2016. =  AFP/LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

DAY ONE, 13th August 

After 75 minutes of play Sri Lanka were 23 for 5! Two test wins has disturbed the equilibrium of our batsmen – cranky shots caused the downfall. Wicket was not weird or wired; Aussies reaped a windfall. In the midst of falling wickets, tourists at the SSC were re-arranging schedules to spend time at beach resorts with a match unlikely to extend beyond Day Three after an Australian victory. At close of play with Sri Lanka reaching 214 for 5 the reservations were left unconfirmed.

Debarawewa MMV’s Dhananjaya de Silva made a classic century. Suranga Lakmal hails from the same school situated off the beaten track in Tissamaharamaya. In the Deep South they eat much red fish, good for nourishment as is beef or lamb. Few know Deberewewa MMV came into the forefront in cricket through E.D. Johnston, CEO of Pelwatte Sugar Company under Booker-Tate management, allowed the local lads to use the company turf wicket and its cricketing gear. The teacher –in –charge of cricket was a Buddhist monk. They won the finals of the 50 over inter – school tournament under 17 competition at the BRC grounds where the monk blessed each schoolboy going out to bat.

Three bright young stars emerged while the golden oldies had taken to dollar cricket. Sri Lankans cricketers share a common trait with politicians – retire belatedly depriving opportunities to the up and coming.

Aussie flags fluttered vigorously during the first hour but lost momentum to remain parked under the seats; local wag: ‘overdone elderly arm leads to sprains and strains’.

By 6.00 pm the SSC was deserted and a hired band played loud music to a non-existing crowd. SSC’s stuffy ex-co lacks the warmth exuded at the friendly Tamil Union.

HIGHLIGHT: Dimuth Karunaratne is picked for his fielding; scored 2 runs in 14 overs and left bowled but excelled in the field at Galle.

TALK OF THE TOWN: Little boys play exhibition cricket during lunch break: Where are the little girls? Does SLC down grade ladies cricket?  Pleasant experience to see them worship their superiors after play – blends with our culture.

DAY TWO, 14th August 

SSC ground is fully covered overnight and possesses the best draining system and carries a well-drilled ground staff. Match started on time with rain around. A day of inactivity for the Australian flag wavers all over 60 years of age. Reduced to 40 from the high point of 70 reached at Galle, the elite destination.

Eyes turned to flags again as Chandimal reached his hundred to show it’s an Australia flutter. There was no merry making until the green caps came to bat. Sale of beer splurged thereon. Many Australians on cricket tours had brought Sri Lankan expatriates as their tour leaders: slyly engaged more in personal activity that would not have pleased their hosts, if aware.

Score board read 24/5 on Day 1: at 2.00 pm on Day 2 registered 338/7.  Pathetic to see Australians look relieved when Herath retired injured at 33.

Selectors had done their job splendidly but the chamber assigned to them is fit to store light rollers. In a compartmentalized room many of the selectors sat facing a blank wall and ‘ little Kalu’ – looking more cherubic – watched the match eyeing cricket perpendicular making him a candidate for squint eyes, whilst chairman Sanath Jayasuriya, ex-politician – lorded over the center table exclusively to himself.

HIGHLIGHT: Chandimal walked back to the pavilion to a standing ovation. Australian flaggers gave Starc a gallant salute on his 5-wicket haul to show they are alive and kicking.

TALK OF THE TOWN: Australian batters mean business. They ran on to the field before Matthew’s men were out. First ball was dispatched over the ropes.

DAY THREE … 15th August

Rex Clementine, cricket correspondent, was good naturedly mocked for having acquired a prescriptive title at the SSC press box to the best seat directly over the bowlers arm. A knowledgeable past master, a Walking Wisden, made copious notes twitted into his script that made good reading but simpletons could not comprehend the heavy stuff. Reminders of late fabled S.P. Foenander and his legendary pen?

The 18 member strong Aussie media occupying the press box were of full praise for the Media Manager of SLC for the “best grub provided at any cricket center” (unanimously ratified except by never–to–be–satisfied pugnacious BRC’s ex all rounder Nimal Gunawardane, doughty reviver of the Cricketing Lion’s Den, sitting 40 deep in the main pavilion under their colorful banner, and a ‘queer’ Aussie in the Press box). Aside: elderly lawyer came at lunch -time; previously to pick a complimentary free lunch pack to take home from the Lions Den. Fearless Nimal gave him a mouthful never to return again. Well done, Boy.

Sumathipala Administration indeed won friends among the temperamental critics.

HIGHLIGHT: Aussie batsmen are playing to a set plan devised on the drawing board and not according to the conditions on the playing field. ‘Never play on the back foot’ was the motto – costs: two stumped and two lbw decisions against. Bless the referrals.

TALK OF THE TOWN: It was announced in the press box that Kaushalaya de Silva had six stiches to his fist and may bat only in necessity. Need arose as he had to play the role of a night watchman and scored a century. A stitch in time saves a side.

FOURTH DAY,  16th August

Aussies hold two advantages (a) they make two’s into three’s in running between wickets (b) fall to stop boundary hit instead of falling to impress and let the ball reach the fence like our fielders do.

Story was started by Aussies in the stands, the Galle pitch was queered to suit spin that might put the curator in a spot till a gentleman in the Aussie press box maimed it, by claiming most test pitches in Australia are ‘drop ins’ that has changed the character of every venue. A controversy in the making was quashed. Give it to the Aussies there are a fair bunch.

A ticket was priced at Rs 50 yet the takers were few. Selling any cheaper will make it more expensive for SLC.

It’s the gimmicks that bring in the crowds. Come on Marketing Manager where are thou for the sake of the game? Why don’t the SLC hold a fancy dress competition or hold a jive session with a prize offer during the lunch break. Cricket badly needs a color wash out side the game to enliven it.

HGHLIGHTS: Australians are playing for glory as if it is a life and death matter. Determined to avoid a whitewash. Australians sitting in the sun have closed taps and say they have no qualms tomorrow being a Poya day-it’s to cricket they are glued-not the beer. Kaushalya De Silva with stitches on scores a century. True Grit.

TALK OF THE TOWN:Wicket is taking more spin since tea and the Sri Lankan spinners are wily and carry more guile but one innings from David Warner, soon due, can finish the match early. It will spin still more on Sunday and poya day most often brings rain. Worse Aussie pace men are running on the pitch. Herat will keep watch on the rough patches.

FIFTH DAY, 17th August

Three Men will decide the Test- Warner, Smith, Marsh or Herat, Perera, Sandakan. Which combination will work? Will the Poya Day inevitable rainfall ruin the result? Too much to think over.

Roshan Abeysekers took the Australian TV commentators on the run, so different from the days previous ‘when our sycophants’ played master-sir to the foreigners and was retained in the box, now fortunately muzzled. Roshan is infectious and he placed Russel (with his rich experience and knowledge) on notice. Choice less Russel Arnold followed suit and did it in style. There are of course excesses like Tony Grieg’s [“Good, he’s dropped It”] or as Roshan exclaimed  [“ Oooh that throw should have been straighter“] if it did, another Aussie would be on his way home!

Press Box is more homely: English Press speaks in the vernacular. Their Man of he Match is the Media Manager of the SLC – the fairest guy of them all.

Nine Australian wickets fell in less than two hours watched by 9028 spectators. No bars today to drown the sorrows or celebrate.

HIGHLIGHTS: If we beat the Aussies it is only the Indians we cannot beat at home Why? They do refuse Decision Review system. Nice words Angelo.

TALK OF THE TOWN:  Hope you enjoy the Australian dollars, Murali. Never mind you are still our hero. Feel shy for a while but you can overcome as Sri Lanka stood by you in adversity. We will again.











Filed under Angelo Mathews, Australian cricket, cricket and life, cricketing icons, performance, player selections, politics and cricket, Rangana Herath, Russel Arnold, Sri Lanka Cricket, taking the mickey, unusual people

2 responses to “Spins and Grins: Diarizing the Third Test at the SSC

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