Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 16th 2014 Contents A55
Thursday, January 16, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
At the end of Graham Ford s penultimate training
session as coach, the Sri Lanka cricketers worked
themselves up to a frenzy in anticipation of a chal-
lenge that has brewed for some time.
Padded up and wielding willow, physio Steve Mount
stepped into one of the practice nets at Sharjah Sta-
dium and took a middle-stump guard with umpire
Kumar Sangakkara s assistance.
At the bowler s end, Sri Lanka s smallest player
Kaushal Silva marked out a run-up: about a dozen
paces for someone of average height, but no less than
20 for him. A wicketkeeper by trade, his task was
to dismiss the batsman in three overs. Silva set an
imaginary field and ran in hard.
The first ball was defended solidly, but Silva saw
enough cause to approach Mount, chest puffed out,
malice in his eyes. His team-mates howled in enjoy-
ment as the protagonists hammed up the dramedy.
No one remarked Silva would have had to pitch it
less than a metre from the bowling crease if he wanted
to bounce Mount, perhaps because the joke was a
With only few balls to go, Silva struck Mount low
on the front pad and went up in raucous appeal.
Sangakkara raised his finger, along with several others,
and sent Silva into raptures, sprinting up and down
the net. Mount asked for a review, but there was not
enough evidence in the footage---shot by the team
analyst---to overturn the decision.
After the shouts had subsided and his team had
cleared out, Ford reflected on the event. "There s
been a lot of talk on the bus---every day the challenge
has been the main topic. It just shows the lads are
in a good place in terms of team spirit and getting
Seemingly not the gregarious type, Ford has
nonetheless had much to do with his team s high
spirits. He has overseen a year of intensive transition
in the top team, and in the first two Tests in the
UAE, Sri Lanka s investment in youth has begun to
pay dividends. After the third Test, Ford will end his
two-year stint with Sri Lanka, handing over to Paul
"From a performance point of view, during my
time, we ve seen some of these young players really
start to put their hands up an make runs. Some of
the Test match records for some of the younger
players have been great. If look at your Test statistics
of Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne, and
now we see Kaushal Silva coming into Test crick-
et---they have been good. Dimuth Karunaratne is
"Overall the processes that have been put in place,
the gradual improvements and the foundations that
have been set should lead to a very exciting 18 months
or two years ahead for Sri Lanka cricket.
"At the same time, the old guard have been good.
It s not easy to fill the shoes of the retiring greats
because they are real talents---special greats. But
there s enough young talent within Sri Lanka to
ensure that the team will always be a competitive
The team has had largely positive results under
Ford, though the 0-3 whitewash in Australia is the
Exciting two years
ahead for SL---Ford
Graham Ford...coming to end of stint with Sri Lanka
BRISBANE---Australia fast bowler Mitchell
Johnson has warned England he can be as
intimidating with a white ball as a red one
as he prepares to return to for today s sec-
ond one-dayer at the Gabba.
Johnson claimed 37 wickets as Australia
won the Ashes test series 5-0, playing a
larger part than any other player in allowing
Australia to unsettle, then dominate the
His return to the Australian one-day side
will add to the pressure on England after
the test series whitewash and their loss in
the opener of the four-match one-day series.
"I proved that in the last one-day series
in India and England, you can still use the
short-pitched ball and be aggressive," John-
"I really enjoy bowling with the white
ball, it swings a bit more and you can still
be as intimidating with the white ball. That
doesn t change a thing for me."
Johnson s returns looms as another chal-
lenge for England captain Alastair Cook.
Cook s dry summer in Australia con-
tinued when he was dismissed off the sec-
ond ball in a 50-overs tour match against
the Prime Minister s XI on Tuesday after
being out third ball in the first one-day
Johnson felt no sympathy for Cook.
"It s definitely very tough for him at the
moment," Johnson said. "Everyone looks
up to their captain so I m sure he s finding
it very hard at the moment.
"There s a lot of pressure on him and he s
definitely feeling it."
Meanwhile, England fast bowler Steven
Finn will return home in a bid to regain
form after an unhappy tour.
England one-day coach Ashley Giles con-
firmed the decision yesterday, saying Finn
needs a break.
Finn took no part in the Ashes series and
was unlikely to feature in the four one-day
"We feel it s the best thing for him," Giles
said. "We feel he s not been bowling that
well and not bowling well enough to get
selected. I feel the best place for him to be
right now is out of a performance environ-
Finn is the latest player to quit the England
tour after batsman Jonathan Trott, who
returned home with a stress-related illness,
and spinner Graeme Swann who retired
during the Ashes series. (AP)
SHARJAH---Captain Misbah-ul-Haq may
finally give a second spinner a chance on
a flat Sharjah pitch against Sri Lanka in
the third test from Thursday as Pakistan
searches for the right combination to level
"You get spin on the pitches here as far
as test cricket goes," Misbah, who has a say
on the playing XI, said on Wednesday.
"It s a do-or-die situation for us and we
have to level the series, there is no other
Pakistan and Misbah also thought the
second-test pitch in Dubai last week would
take spin, but went with only Saeed Ajmal
and the pitch hardly broke. Sri Lanka reg-
istered its biggest ever victory in tests against
Pakistan in winning by nine wickets to take
a 1-0 lead.
In the five previous tests at Sharjah Cricket
Stadium, Pakistan defeated West Indies
twice in 2002, lost to Australia by innings
margins in the same year, and drew with
Sri Lanka in 2011.
Bringing in left-arm spinner Abdul
Rehman also could be expedient, as fast
bowler Bilawal Bhatti has been nursing ham-
string injury since bowling in the first innings
of the second test.
Misbah is unlikely to tinker with his top
order batsmen despite Ahmed Shehzad,
Khurram Manzoor and Mohammad Hafeez
struggling against the Sri Lanka seamers---
especially with the new ball. The three have
each scored a half century in the series, and
have the backing of their skipper.
But Pakistan must surely be worried that
except for Junaid Khan, who has taken 11
wickets in two tests, no other bowler has
assisted the left-arm paceman.
Rahat Ali has bowled more than 100 overs
for only two wickets, while Ajmal s tally is
But Misbah feels no pressure, and hoped
his seamers would follow the Sri Lanka
seamers---Shaminda Eranga, Nuwan Pradeep
and Suranga Lakmal---by bowling in the
"If we feel worried and panic, then it will
not help," Misbah said. "We have worked
on the areas where we struggled and will
try to improve them." (AP)
Johnson aims to
Australia's Mitchell Johnson on the third
day of their Ashes cricket test match in
Sydney, Australia, Sunday. AP PHOTO
Pakistan may go with two spinners in third Test
Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka, right, hits the ball past Pakistan wicketkeeper Sarfraz
Ahmed during the second cricket test match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the Dubai
International Cricket Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, last Sunday. AP Photo
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