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    July 27, 2005

    Lest we forget ...

    Ok, its pretty obvious where our focus currently is, but West Indies and Sri Lanka squared off in a two test series recently. Sri Lanka won 2-0 against what could comfortably be termed the West Indies 'B' side, with only skipper Chanderpaul having played more than ten test matches.

    The reason the West Indies Cricket Board sent such a team once again boiled down to the same problems which dogged South Africa's tour earlier this year, Digicel v Cable & Wireless. That conflict resulted in Brian Lara being omitted, along with other key players, from the side which played the first test against South Africa. Chanderpaul was named captain and West Indies drew the first test. Lara returned for the second test and played under Chanderpaul's captaincy but in spite of his brilliant form, or perhaps because of his presence, West Indies were beaten. Interesting that I can't get to the actual article on Cricinfo. It seems to have been pulled out for some strange reason. Pressure, perhaps? Authenticity?

    Then, Lara dropped out of the one-day series, apparently because he felt that he needed to prolong his test career. With the spat between the WICB and the WIPA spilling out into the open, Curtley Ambrose questioned the need for a pay hike given the team's hopeless record in one-dayers and test matches over a period of time.

    In spite of negotiations, including intervention by politicians, the two sides failed to reach an agreement and the WICB announced a squad which might have made a West Indies-Bangladesh-Zimbabwe triangular series seem interesting. Cricket fans, administrators and players in West Indies and Sri Lanka were totally disappointed at the turn of events.

    To the credit of the new bunch of players, they did pretty well over the first two days in both tests. They took the first innings lead at Colombo before Murali and Vaas cleaned them up in the second innings. In the second test at Kandy, they were two runs short of Sri Lanka's first innings total. Sangakkara's century and Murali's eight wicket haul ensured an easy win for Sri Lanka.

    West Indies did manage to find some light at the end of the tunnel, not necessarily a train running in the opposite direction.

    Jermaine Lawson took more wickets than everyone bar Murali and Vaas, but was pulled up for an illegal action yet again. Denesh Ramdin, the new wicket-keeper, scored a half-century and took quite a few catches. Narsingh Deonarine got a few runs while Daren Powell did quite well with the ball. Interesting that the top three run-getters in the side were all of Indian origin, Chanderpaul, Ramdin and Deonarine!

    The next challenge for this bunch comes in the Indian Oil Cup. I really can't see this side reaching the final, but if they scare Sri Lanka and India along the way, it could be the start of a long trek back uphill after a downslide lasting nearly a decade.

    India has its own set of problems. With the BCCI-ICC wrangle over Ganguly's suspension all set to be decided today, there is still a lot of uncertainty over who will play and who won't. As Ranatunga points out, it will be very tough for the batsmen to cope with Murali on his home territory. Add in the fact that none of the batsmen have a good record in Sri Lanka and this makes the task even more difficult.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 3:45 PM |
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