Sri Lanka s cricketers completed what will go down in history as the worst ever tour of Australia in the context of the players who made up the team as the curtain virtually came down on them with defeat against India at the Bellerieve Oval in Hobart yesterday.
When the tour party returns in shame in a few days, the Sri Lankans will still be in the spotlight making headlines for the wrong reasons as they gear to play for something else in neighbouring India where making money will be far easier than winning matches. First it was a case of playing for the country and now it s also money which means the focus will be on another venture. How the current Sri Lanka cricket board president Arjuna Ranatunga will handle issues from now on will be the million dollar question.
The results from Australia have put Ranatunga in the most uncomfortable position a board president has ever faced and the worst greeting a serving cricket head has ever had in his opening overs.
To make the necessary changes Ranatunga has only got to look across the Palk Straits and see what the Indian board has done to their ageing players. But whether Ranatunga can make such drastic changes is another million dollar question.
The reason being Sri Lankan people are more emotional than passionate about their cricket, and to see Muttiah Muralitheran, Chaminda Vaas or Sanath Jayasuriya knocked out from the one-day side will be a bitter pill to swallow.
Secondly, even if Ranatunga was to pull out the sword, does he have a cupboard full of players to throw in the replacements? Future players have fallen by the wayside or have gone overseas in search of greener pastures.
But Ranatunga with the image he has built for himself will have no place to hide other than take the bull by the horns.
Ranatunga, the king, governor general, hero, expert or pundit as he is being called, will have to make his presence felt in a situation he would not have bargained for. He will now have to realise that playing for the team was much easier than administering it.Ranatunga will do well to realise that it is better to lose with a team of youngsters who will have something to learn, than try to win and lose with a bunch of ageing bulls who have nothing to learn other than think of a luxurious retirement.
Imagine the super purses some of the players will be collecting for a few 20 over games to appease the vanity of Indian supersonic magnates and film stars who have given life to another form of cricket called the Indian Premier League. Sanath Jayasuriya (Rs.104 million), Kumar Sangakkara (Rs.70 million), Muttiah Muralitheran (Rs.60 million), Mahela Jayawardena (Rs.40 million), Tillekaratne Dilshan (Rs. 25 million), Fervez Maharoof (Rs 22 milion) , Chaminda Vaas (Rs.20 million) and Chamara Silva (Rs.10 million)
Perhaps Maharoof must have been the only one to show signs of not losing focus when he went into a match on the current tour of Australia and did everything to raise the team.
But where was he when Sri Lanka struggled against India yesterday.
Sri Lanka innings
D.Perera b I.Sharma 8
S.Jayasuriya c Dhoni b Pathan 34
K.Sangakkara c Dhoni b Kumar 33
M.Jayawardene c R.Sharma b Kumar 3
C.Silva c Dhoni b Kumar 0
T.Dilshan lbw b I.Sharma 8
C.Kapugedera c and b Harbhajan Singh 57
C.Vaas c Gambhir b I.Sharma 0
L.Malinga c Uthappa b I.Sharma 12
M.Muralitharan b Kumar 13
I.Amerasinghe not out 0
Extras (lb-5 w-6) 11
Total (all out, 47.1 overs) 179
Fall of wickets:
1-15, 2-72, 3-77, 4-81, 5-81, 6-93, 7-93,
8-139, 9-179, 10-179
Patel 9-0-51-0 (w-1), I.Sharma 10-0-41-4 (w-2), Pathan 10-2-23-1, Kumar 10-2-31-4 (w-2), Harbhajan Singh 4.1-0-17-1, Yuvraj Singh 4-0-11-0 (w-1)
R.Uthappa c Amerasinghe b Malinga 11
S.Tendulkar c Silva b Muralitharan 63
G.Gambhir not out 63
Y.Singh c Dilshan b Perera 36
R.Sharma not out 3
Extras (w-4) 4
Total (three wickets, 32.2 overs) 180
Fall of wickets:
1-18, 2-120, 3-171
Vaas 6-0-29-0, Malinga 6-0-36-1 (w-3), Amerasinghe 7-0-40-0, Muralitharan 8.2-0-54-1 (w-1), Jayasuriya 1-0-4-0, Perera 4-0-17-1
Result : India win by seven wickets
Man of the match : Praveen Kumar