Tag Archives: Tillakaratne Dilshan

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

The clouds were there at Lord’s yesterday on the morning of day three of the second test but no swing.  It was too cold or, more exactly, not warm enough to generate movement in the air.

There was some lively bounce to be exploited but the Englandbowlers’ radar equipment had been borrowed by the backroom staff to watch for rain and too many deliveries jetted down the leg side or blew themselves out outside off.

In the dressing room the radar revealed that the French were exporting precipitation in a cunning plan to narrow their budget deficit.  The dominant anti-cyclone, centred somewhere over the North Sea, was producing rain squalls swirling across from Calais to Dover and then along the Downs missing Lord’s by a whisker, but always threatening to edge northwards and drench the entertainment.

Dilshan despite concerns over his right thumb, smacked hard at Cardiff and buffeted again on day two, bravely increased his score by 60 before lunch, England dissipating the potential of the new ball.

If he continued at this rate of knots he could reach 300 by close of play. Sri Lanka took their score to 344/2 by the same interval.  If they continued to storm ahead they could reach 600 by close of play.  Was the track that flat?  The England bowlers seemed to think so.  None of them were keen to bowl on it.

The Englandbowling coach spent his time on the dressing room balcony, note pad in hand, endeavouring unsuccessfully to direct Finn’s aero-dynamics from afar.  “For God’s Saker!”

Finn, working with Saker before the start of play had nearly killed Trott who is having one of those weeks.  An unusually accurate delivery from the Flying Finn had ricocheted off the spring propelled practice stump straight into the head of a Trott wandering lonely as a cloud. “For God’s Saker!” heard those watching from the Grand Stand.

Tremlett produced steep and disturbing bounce, but it was an innocuous tempter that did for Sangakara, who, keen to match his average score in England of 27, had pummelled his way to 26 before wafting breezily at the passing delivery. 

The former Lankan captain and the former England captain, Pietersen, may have much in common and might wish to use any future interruption in play to talk about their predicaments. But both would be advised to avoid Sir Ian Botham to whom Pietersen, the day before, had sought advice. “What should I do, then, Both?”  “Try batting left handed!”  Pietersen’s reply to this characteristically helpful advice from ‘Beefy’ went unrecorded.

Mahela Jayawardene now played Southern Hemisphere to Dilshan’s Northern.  Mahela waits for the ball, playing late and using its momentum to redirect the whirlwind (as the first Duke of Marlborough advised).  

Dilshan throws his hands at it.  Tragically this day he did so literally when on 193 another twister from Tremlett honed in on that thumb, tightly bound in tape as it was, and gave it a third cyclonic pounding in roughly a week. 

Soon after, and with the Lankan physio doing his very best to make things worse by tugging on the digit to see how bad it was, “For God’s Saker!” the  valiant opener, beside himself with pain, received a ripper from Flynn that swept through his defences and recoiled from his hip down onto the stumps.

In sympathy the Great Weatherman thought that enough was enough.  French rain precipitated the end of the meteorological allusions for the day.

Sri Lanka trail by 114 runs with 7 wickets remaining in the 1st innings

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Stun Guns and Cloud Computing

The feasting on runs continued under blue skies at Lord’s yesterday on the second day of the second Test between England and Sri Lanka.

Prior and Broad upped the scoring rate from a replete 3.89, yesterday, to a Rabelaisian six-an-over with Prior relentless and Broad continuing to drive anything remotely near his reach.

Prior, although helped by Lankan fielding and catching lapses, deservedly reached the landmark of a Lord’s century with an ecstatic roar beneath the helmet and moved on with the tail to post 126 from 131 balls. Broad cruised to 50 before falling LBW to Welegedara.

Scoring at 6 an over,England made 144 in 25 overs, and took their first innings to 486 at 4.3 an over.

But the ‘shape’ or swing that Welegedara (4/122) and Lakmal (3/126) were able to command in these unhelpful conditions and the four LBW dismissals should remind us that if clouds were to appear over St John’s Wood in the three days to come, England’s array of tall young fast bowlers could again make life difficult for the Sri Lankans.

And there is always Swann to bowl in any fourth innings.

But there was not a cloud in the sky or in the minds of Dilshan and Tharanga as they took guard on this flat Lord’s wicket and menacingly adapted their game to it.

Tharanga was the slow and solid Good Cop (kissing his bat compulsively twice before each of his 184 deliveries) and Dilshan the Bad Cop who bats like a law enforcer with a Taser gun, its Electro-Muscular Disruption (EMD) technology permanently charged through the super-conductivity of his nervous system ever ready to stun the errant and not so errant bowler with its high voltage discharge.

A Saturday crowd at Lord’s always deserves a century to savour for the rest of their lives. As Sam Becket wrote in his little known play Waiting to Bat, “I’m like that. Either I forget an innings right away or I never forget.”

And on this Saturday an allegedly full house were given the chance to remember a second, thanks to Dilshan’s arresting 127 in 166 balls with 12 fours and 2 sixes. 

It seems boorish of the ECB to deny a West Indian or two the opportunity of a Saturday ton at Lord’s during their tour next year.  It betrays poor prioritization and ignorance of what matters in the game.  On cricket’s behalf, Dilshan should be given the job of ‘interviewing’ those decision makers with the aid of his trusty EMD device.

Back in the middle the openers celebrated their 200 partnership with bear hugs. That is how much playing at this unique venue matters to hardened pros.

Swann bowled well, but the Sri Lankans gave a demonstration of batting against spin.  Watching and waiting they played as late as humanly possible in a way that must create hope for the bowler that the bat won’t get down in time, but it ever does and with lightening speed. So there were lots of ‘oooohs’ and ‘arrrrrhs’ and arms folded above heads but no bona fide alarms.

And so the Lankans, pursuing England’s 486 all out, are 231/1, 255 runs behind with 9 first innings wickets remaining.

This morning, Third Man is vainly cloud computing in a bid to calculate the shape of the future.  “You’re on Earth ” warns Sam. ” There’s no cure for that.”

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Leaving Well Alone

“You know you shouldn’t eat GM food, it don’t agree with you.”

Third Man should have listened.

Some will have noticed that the Type III has been grounded of late, gathering dust in an unseasonably fine spring. 

TM picks over the probable causes to find a mixture of parental demands, political frustration – the Squire insisting on putting himself forward in the hustings – and poisoning.

It is no coincidence that the last posting here was of an early match in IPL4. 

At the time Third Man thought he might have taken a little too much. “You know you shouldn’t watch that stuff, it don’t agree with you.”

But its surface sparkles like a plate cooked in monosodium glutamate which, despite its toxicity, arouses the appetite and with it admiration and wonder … if only you avoid the unripe commentary; “that’s massive”, “that’s huge”, “he’s really smashed that”.

And true enough, soon after, Third Man found himself laid low in his feather bed by the inanity of it, consuming a sexless hybrid with an empty husk, genetically modified to appeal yet devoid of the staff of life.  “Never again, never again.”

The-Hall-Of-The-Tennis-Court-Versailles or tennis before the invention of the lawn mower

Or is Third Man like some player of Royal Tennis who, having tried the new craze played on the Palace lawn, goes back inside to enjoy the fine dining of the real game’s perfectly balanced complex of the natural and the contrived? 

Like Third Man on the day after, cricket may one day conclude that it should have left well alone.

‘Leave well alone’ is of course the difference between T20 and Real Cricket.

Real Cricket is a game of time.  Playing time is remembering to leave.

Consequently, would the first day of the new season in England, with its expectation of Sri Lankan batting excess, put Third Man back on his feet or leave him feeling under the weather? 

A low pressure system coming in from the Atlantic tried its best to postpone the cure, but at around 4 pm the dangerous Tillakaratne Dilshan and the hazardous Tharanga Paranavitana took the emerald field at Cardiff to face James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Tremlett in conditions that surely favoured the English attack.

Third Man does feel slightly better this morning.  Not his old self, but perhaps able to take some thin broth.

The ball swung and carried on off the pitch.  Dilshan raised his bat to let it by.  The ball spat up off the drying surface.  Tharanga took it on the chest.  The ball deviated and rose sharply.  Dilshan dropped his wrists like a seasoned English pro opening the batting in May.  Both openers felt the ball on chilled and unprotected skin.  Dilshan took blows to the abdomen leaving him prostrate and the bottom hand leaving him disengaged. 

On occasion Tharanga sliced square reminding us of his World Cup innings, but England had the advantage of replete protection there.  Twice or thrice, Dilshan reached for the kitchen sink and tainted the off-side field.

Despite the departure of Dilshan and a deaf and insensitive Sangakkara, Sri Lanka ended the day having endured the fare on offer, consuming the attack  until the drying turf began to resemble Third Man’s beloved feather bed.

As a rule, they left well alone.                         

SL 133/2 (48 overs)

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Watch this then! – Sir Donald Bradman and the Origins of the Dilshan

The dare is irresistible to young boys.

“I bet you wouldn’t dare go out there and reverse sweep that opening bowler.”

“Watch this then!”

That was the kind of chat you might have overheard listening to a bunch of eleven year old cricketers, five years ago.

Now they’re sixteen and it’s the Dilshan that’s the subject of their dares.

Tillakaratne Dilshan playing the Scoop Shot right out of the coaching manual

Twenty or so years ago cricketers rediscovered that scoring runs could be a three dimensional activity.  In the days of risk-averse batting one might see the odd lofted straight drive, though cricketers have been sacked from Test sides for playing that shot before lunch on the first day of a Test.

The hook was always an explosive shot with the ball soaring skyward, but even then you could hear the coach’s admonishment, “Roll those wrists, TM.”

Roy Marshall famously played the sliced cut that slewed the ball over Third Man’s head for six, but no-one thought of copying that ‘impossible’ shot.

Perhaps it was Barry Richards, copping with the demands of the Gillette and Benson and Hedges formats, who in recent times rediscovered the art of lofting drives over extra cover and clipping leg side shots deliberately up and over the inner ring of fielders.

Field placing tactics evolved with in and out fields, but these could not put the gene entirely back in the bottle.  Shot selection and captaincy had now to consider the third and liberating dimension. 

Batsmen responded to carefully placed in and out leg side fields by developing reverse shots if the on side was packed with extra fielders.  

By the time the preternaturally attacking and wonderfully inventive Sri Lankan, Tillakaratne Dilshan , arrived on the scene there was only one segment of the field left to exploit: the area behind and over the head of the wicket keeper.

Third Man does not hesitate to repeat and underscore this; yes, the area behind and over the head of the wicket keeper.

Perhaps in the nets one day, bored but feeling ‘right’,  Dilshan assumed the position of head butting the half-volley and at the last nano-second produced the bat and, without a further view of the ball, timed a flick over the wicket keepers left shoulder.

“Bet you wouldn’t do that in a match.”

“Watch me, then!”

Yes, Third Man, but what’s this got to do with Sir Donald Bradman?

In Doug Insole’s Cricket From the Middle, the Essex and England allrounder recalls playing in a match at Lords against Middlesex.  Compton had yet to reach three figures and was batting freely but seriously when play stopped for tea. 

During that interval the mischievous and impish Middlesex captain, R.W.V. Robins,  ‘innocently’ enquired of Compton why he never played the straight drive, as this shot was the usually considered the mark of a decent batsman.

Cultural linguists will recognize this as a typically upper middle class mid-twentieth century way of issuing a dare.

Walking out after tea, the Essex players heard Compton tell the bowler, Ray Smith, that his third ball would go back over his head.

The third ball was duly hit for ‘as straight a six as it is possible to see’ reports Insole.

Yes, yes, Third Man, but what had this to do with the ‘Don’ who everyone knows during his entire career played every shot along the ground?

Insole goes on to recall Bradman telling him that once in the course of a big innings in a state match in Australia he had suddenly felt the urge to experiment and he had ‘determined to hit the next ball to fine-leg for four’.

Bradman had told the wicket keeper to stand back, or he would get the ball in his face, and had hit the next delivery, a half volley outside the off stump, over his left shoulder to the boundary.

Voila, The Dilshan … or should we say The Bradman, played fifty years ago.  Of course, for added spice, Bradman the master cricketer had dared himself – the real challenge in life.

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