Wasim and I – The Two Most Aggressive Cricketers on Earth


Aggressive Wasim Akram

Aggressive Wasim Akram

These are two angry men in the cricket field. First one is the legendary Pakistani cricketer Wasim Akram who ripped through the opposition batting line with his destructive reverse swing bowling attack, displayed unbelievable fielding talents by holding onto spectacular catches and went on to power hitting down the order while batting on his day. (Not to mention that epic 257 test runs not out from 363 balls against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura in 1996.) Wasim was the most aggressive cricketer on the field I have seen in my entire life. Not even Saleem Malik, who was both fortunate and unfortunate enough to be Wasim´s captain during most of his career would be spared of the latter´s verbal assault if the former displayed any poor fielding off the latter´s bowling. The latter would ask something to the effect of “Do you need the ball to be size of a pumpkin for you to catch it?” which was even heard through the on-field microphones. That was Wasim. That was his commitment to the game. Wasim is my favorite cricketer of all-time.

An Angry Nanda Wanninayaka

An Angry Nanda Wanninayaka

The second one, me, nowhere close to Wasim, the legend but, is a hugely brushed-off cricketer in my own small village cricket club. I must probably have been the bowler who took the most number of wickets for my team but was never considered as a bowler because I didn’t bowl fast (enough.) I used my head than the body when bowling and captured an average of 5 wickets in two 10-over per side match an evening. Fast bowlers like my own younger brother Aruna, Samantha, Donald, Sanath were considered as the best bowlers but all of them except Donald conceded a lot of runs as they delivered more no-balls and wides than legitimate balls. My brother was the undisputed “No-ball King” those days. But all these bowlers were good bowlers given the reason that they had to bowl with a tennis ball on an uneven grassy pitch, not even on a mat. But I was sidelined during the inter-club matches as I did not bowl fast (enough.) Taking wickets constantly during practice matches was never considered as a qualification to bowl during inter-club matches. I was a bad fielder at the beginning and dropped many a catch but later improved myself a lot and hardly dropped a catch after I learnt the techniques of holding onto a catch while watching cricket commentaries on TV. When it comes to batting, I was a bad batsman and hardly scored 10+ in an innings. Then again, I learnt batting techniques on TV and then improved myself. Despite the strong protest of my own younger brother, I promoted myself to the prestigious position of the opening batsman and lasted almost all 10 overs while the batsmen from other end collapsed like cards of dominoes. I didn’t go to big hits unless it was very needed towards the latter part of the innings and all I did was trying to last the full quota of 10 overs allocated for a team. All I knew was that the team that batted all 10 overs always won, mainly thanks to no-balls and wides that came as bonuses. This was why I opened batting and went on to bat all 10 overs on more often than not. This doesn’t mean that I occasionally got out for a duck, perhaps on the first ball.

Keeping that all self-promoting nonsense aside, all I wanted to say is that even though I cannot compare myself with my favorite cricketing hero, legendary Wasim Akram, we both were equally aggressive players, if not more, on the field. We both fought till the last ball to win a match, not to save a match.

Now both Wasim and I are retired and I still enjoy him as a commentator, He might not be as lively as Ravi Sastri, as eloquent as Rameez Raja, as crazily fast as Harsha Boghle or as technical as Sunil Gavaskar as in the commentary box, but the soft-spoken Wasim has a great sense of humor and a stylish language in commentating. But all I want to see great Wasim is as a player for the eternity. Such pace, such strength, such talent, such commitment, such perfection, such anger, such aggression, such glamour, you will never see from anyone but Wasim.

Well, last but not least, Wasim Akram’s career was constantly tainted with controversies on and off the field and err … … … so was (and is) mine. 

Wasim Akram Celebrating a Wicket

Wasim Akram Celebrating a Wicket

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram  Celebrating After Taking a Wicket

Wasim Akram Celebrating After Taking a Wicket

Wasim in Action

Wasim in Action

Wasim Akram  Bowling

Wasim Akram Bowling

Wasim Akram  Bowling

Wasim Akram Bowling

Wasim Akram  Bowling

Wasim Akram Bowling

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram Roaring After Taking a Wicket

Wasim Akram Roaring After Taking a Wicket

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram Encouraging Shoaib Akhtar

Wasim Akram Encouraging Shoaib Akhtar

Wasim Akram Celebrating a Wicket

Wasim Akram Celebrating a Wicket

A Resting Wasim Akram

A Resting Wasim Akram

Nanda Wanninayaka Batting

Nanda Wanninayaka Batting

Nanda Wanninayaka Going for a Big Shot

Nanda Wanninayaka Going for a Big Shot

Nanda Wanninayaka Making Field Changes of the Opposition While Batting :-)

Nanda Wanninayaka Making Field Changes of the Opposition While Batting 🙂

Nanda Wanninayaka Hooking

Nanda Wanninayaka Hooking

Nanda Wanninayaka Taking the Guard

Nanda Wanninayaka Taking the Guard

Nanda Wanninayaka Waiting to Hammer a Short Ball

Nanda Wanninayaka Waiting to Hammer a Short Ball

Nanda Wanninayaka Teaching this American Guy Colin Himes to Bat

Nanda Wanninayaka Teaching this American Guy Colin Himes to Bat

Nanda Wanninayaka Cricket (7)

Nanda Wanninayaka Installing the Dismantled Wicket

Nanda Wanninayaka Teaching Miss Bára Molnárová from the Czech Republic to Bowl

Nanda Wanninayaka Teaching Miss Bára Molnárová from the Czech Republic to Bowl

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda-Wanninayaka-Cricket-Coaching-2

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda-Wanninayaka-Cricket-Coaching-3

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda-Wanninayaka-Cricket-Coaching-4

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda-Wanninayaka-Cricket-Coaching-5

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

 

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No More Live International Cricket On Channel Eye Please


Sri-Lanka-vs-Bangladesh-21

I was among the millions of happy cricket fans when it was announced that the Sri Lanka’s Bangladesh cricket tour was going to be telecasted live on Channel Eye for the simple reason that Channel Eye has clearer signals than Carlton Sports Network (CSN.) In addition to that, we were not happy about the unusual circumstances that resulted CSN grabbing live cricket from Channel Eye in an unethical manner.

But after the conclusion of the Bangladesh tour of Sri Lanka I feel that live cricket telecasting be better off without Channel Eye. Channel Eye disturbed the viewers throughout the Test series with hourly Tamil news updates that resulted viewers missing even very important milestones during the games.

Things got worse with the start of the one day series. (I cannot comment about the T20 series as I could not watch it.) During the ODI series, Channel Eye stopped live telecast for almost 15 minutes for 7pm Tamil news telecast. This is very unfair to the cricket fans. We expect an uninterrupted coverage. Channel Eye doesn’t have an ethical right to disconnect the live coverage for something else. If they cannot provide uninterrupted coverage, they should have let some other channel to buy the telecasting rights in the first place. Or they could have easily transferred newscasts to their sister channels Rupavahini or NTV without interrupting live cricket. But this did not happen.

CSN also brings us full repeat telecasts the next day for those who missed the live matches. But Channel Eye restricts matches only to nightly highlights. CSN finds enough advertisements to run even during repeat telecasting bringing profits to the channel. Channel Eye, being a channel that runs with the taxpayer money, cannot find enough advertisements even for live Test matches. This shows sheer inefficiency of the state channel.

So, like many others now, I prefer CSN to telecast live cricket matches that Sri Lanka take part even with not-so-good signals. At least they provide uninterrupted live coverage. Channel Eye does not understand priorities so they should not be given live international cricket that Sri Lanka feature anymore.

We Don’t Understand This Cricket


From www.dailynews365.com

Sanath Jayasuriya – The picture from http://www.dailynews365.com

Sri Lanka cricket team doesn’t perform that well for some time now. They are not that bad as well. They became runners up in two consecutive World Cups and two Twenty20 World Cups. More than the talents of the players, there is a problem with the way the team is selected.

Many including me believed that with Sanath Jayasuriya at the helm of the Selection Committee things would go right. But it is not to be. His committee makes ridiculous decisions that none of the former committees made.

Take a look at the way the senior cricketers are being “rested.” They rested Mahela, Dilshan, Kumar, Rangana, Lasith, etc. who were performing well while almost all the newcomers failed to make an impression barring, maybe Thisara Perera at times, but not that consistently. This affected the team’s overall results during the ODI and T20 series just concluded against South Africa. There is no argument that young blood should be infused to the national team. But there is an accepted way to do that. Usually other countries provide opportunities for young players during practice matches and A team matches and through domestic tournaments. Once a cricketer is well-seasoned only he is taken to the national team, that too is when a senior player is retired, injured or omitted due to lack of performance.

Here in Sri Lanka, the best performers are rested and young players are drawn into the national team in a surprising haste damaging the very careers of those young players as they have failed in the big leagues after being drafted to national team.

Sri Lanka has this crazy idea of playing underperforming youngsters just after a series victory. Other national teams don’t do it and when they are 3-0 in the series they want to make it 5-0, not 3-2. But our decision makers have a yearning for playing youngsters and losing remaining matches. A win means a lot in international cricket. Teams are seeded due to wins and losses, not according to series victories. Other teams don’t “test” their young players at a cost of a match. They have other stages where they are tested as mentioned above. But we have an idiotic system to risk victories to make way for so called young players. This is why Sri Lanka cricket team goes deep down and suddenly reemerges again thanks to individual talents of some players, not winning as a team. A team’s composition shouldn’t be shaken much. The core of the team should be consistent and when there is a vacancy, a young man who does well can be drafted in. Young players have to sharpen themselves till they get an opportunity.

But what the Selection Committee did was to risk victories by resting senior players who did well at a time younger players were not living up to expectations. This is not fair by those senior players’ perspectives. While winning matches for the country, those players too should be allowed to go for personal milestones as well. A sudden resting while performing well can hamper all his form. Sri Lanka had to pay dearly in the T20 series with South Africa’s lead of 2-1 which could have turned the other way round if the senior players played. It was the senior players who made a difference throughout the series, not young players.

We have also a very funny way of grooming captains. Today the captains are the players who were struggling to cement their places in the team few months ago, let alone captaining it. What is the message given to them by appointing them captains while still trying to make it to the team? They take it for granted and start playing irresponsibly. See the way both Angelo and Dinesh playing. None of them is performing impressively. They should have been kept at bay till they become consistent performers before making them captains. If their cricketing lives are to end prematurely due to unexpected appointments as captains, the selection committee has to take the responsibility.

Both Kumar and Mahela cannot say that they can’t lead the national team. They are the seasoned ones and should have been captains till the end of their careers. This is how they do it in Australia and England. They find new captains only when the older captains reach retirement age or fail miserably. Both Kumar and Mahela resigned after taking the team to World Cup finals. They should have been retained as captains for the country’s sake. If they say no, that is totally snubbing their employer, Sri Lanka Cricket. Actions should have been taken for snubbing. (But there are these gossips that they were forced to resign also.) They were decent captains and their performances were never affected by the weight of the captaincy as both of them were seasoned enough by the time they became captains.

I’m not too sure about the common opinion that Jayasuriya is avenging the seniors who were against the former’s inclusion in the national side at a time he was not performing. This could perhaps be true. But what Jayasuriya has to understand is that none of the present day seniors opposed him due to his age. They opposed him because he didn’t perform and he was in the team as an MP and enjoyed extra privileges and used his political links to make it to the team.  But Jayasuriya has no ethical right to “rest” the seniors for the simple reason that they opposed him at the earlier team selections.

I would advise Jayasuriya to pay attention to his political aspirations than messing up national cricket anymore. He has done enough as a player for cricket and we don’t need his service as a selector anymore.

Cheering Visiting Cricket Teams Against Sri Lanka


Sri Lankan supporters supporting the SL team at Gabba, 2010

There are a lot of talks by various concerned people about some of the Sri Lankan Muslims supporting Pakistani cricket team and some of the Sri Lankan Tamils supporting Indian cricket team against the Sri Lankan team when India and Pakistan visit Sri Lanka. Some go to the extent calling the Tamils and Muslims ‘traitors.’ But is there anything more than this behind this phenomenon?

Muslims are more concerned with religion than race or anything else for that matter. So, naturally, they see the Muslims in Pakistani teams as “brothers” than the members of the Sri Lankan team. With the strong beliefs they have towards their religion, this is expected. Besides, only few Muslims have been able to make it to the national team of Sri Lanka. Had that happened, the things would have been different, I guess.

It is the same with India team. Tamils in Sri Lanka have their roots in India and they think they have been discriminated by the Sinhalese and hence their first love with the Indian team. Few Tamils represented the Sri Lanka team but only Muralitharan could make it ‘felt.’ Had there been more Tamils in the Sri Lanka team, the reaction of the Tamils here would have been different. But the selectors cannot name a team to justify racial concerns. They have to adhere with the players’ talents. Non Sinhala players being selected to the team constantly shows that there is no discrimination against them.

In another note, look at the cheering squads in Australia, England or New Zealand that have migrated from Sri Lanka and obtained citizenships in those countries who support Sri Lanka team when they visit those countries?  If we oppose Muslims and Tamils supporting India and Pakistan in Sri Lanka, the British, Australians and New Zealanders should oppose Sri Lankan migrants supporting Sri Lanka in those countries. But they don’t care. Should we take Muslims and Tamils supporting non Sri Lankan teams seriously? It is just a sport. It doesn’t have anything to do with patriotism. The best example is that when the Kandy team plays rugby in Kandy, people from all communities support Kandy forgetting their racial differences as it is ‘their’ team and all communities represent the team.

International Level Cricket in Mahawilachchiya


It was the year 1997 or 1998. We used to play tennis ball cricket in the evenings at the playground in Bogas Handiya, Mahawilachchiya. During our elder brothers’ days boys had cleared an abandoned plot of land and formed a sports club called Deepthi Sports Club. Sports club had once organized to show movies on a makeshift cinema hall to raise funds to the club. Unfortunately they hadn’t got the revenue expected and had been in debt to the shopkeeper in Bogas Handiya.

After we took over from the senior boys, I wanted to pay the debts as it had been a bad reputation for the club. So, I suggested the boys that we organize a limited over cricket series to raise funds. We decided to organize the match following the ‘international standards’ and collect an entry fee of 500 LKR from each team for participation. Many were pessimistic about the plan as no team would play 500 LKR to take part. But I was determined.

We cleared the ground neatly and started practicing hard. We sent invitations to the known clubs and expected around 10 teams would take part. We decided to keep neutral umpires to each match so that decisions will be as fair as possible. We also announced with loud speakers mounted on a van that we are having a cricket series and those who interested can join.

The day of the series dawned. We got a very bad news early in the morning. One of our players’ grandma had died at dawn the same day. The funeral house was close to the playground as well. Many suggested postponing the series but we did not have any mean of informing the teams. Teams would have already started their journeys to the ground by the time we met at the ground in the morning. Those were the days without telephones in the village. So I suggested that we go ahead with the series and display our sympathies with the family by observing one minute’s silence with all the teams present.

More than 20 teams took part and it was very difficult to arrange the match schedule and we calculated that we need at least 3 days to complete the series.

The series was a knockout one. This increased the excitement even more. Each team will be play 10 overs. We introduced the 30-yard-circle law and pinch hitting was allowed for the first 3 overs of the innings. There was a match referee, a former player who was experienced with the laws, to solve disputes that would arise during the matches. Not only that, we brought ball by ball commentaries with advertisements in the middle over the loudspeakers. There were few talented boys to bring Sinhala language commentaries. A friend of mine, a teacher called Yasarathna from Galle who taught in Mahawilachchiya did the English commentaries with me. Every two overs language changed in the commentary box. We got a few Muslim boys from the visiting teams to provide Tamil summaries as well. For the children and the youth this was an edutainment experience. For the people gathered, this was a new experience. There was the atmosphere of an international cricket series around the ground. Even the older people who did not like cricket gathered to see what was happeing. Our team lost on the way and the trophy went to a visiting team from Anuradhapura. Everybody was happy about the success of the series.

We paid the debts to the shopkeeper and even retained a profit for the club after the tournament.