February 4, 2008

A virtual world championship

The CB Series features the top three ODI sides in the world at the moment, playing in a format that ensures the best side will win

Sri Lanka's bowling attack has plenty of variety, which will be the key to success in Australia © AFP

Australia is a very good place to play one-day cricket in. The wickets are very fair, and more often than not, the bat dominates. The grounds are great and so are the facilities. Having played there enriches your cricketing experience.

It can be said that sometimes the subcontinental teams struggle in Australia because of the big grounds. But it's not always the case that they don't adapt their game to the bigger grounds: even on big grounds, cricketers do hit sixes and fours. It is just a case of making sure that you do what works for you and are always in control and don't try to overdo things just because of the size of the grounds.

This series features perhaps the three best teams in the world. We know it's going to be tough. Australia and India are two very good one-day sides. We know the make-ups of their teams and the dangers that they present. We will be trying to concentrate on what we do best, and staying in control of what we do, while working hard on beating them.

The CB Series format is unique and tests the teams thoroughly. More often the most consistent side wins this tournament. You have the best-of-three finals, which means that just because you've reached the final and won one game, you are not home and dry. To win in a tournament like this, you have to perform consistently and truly be the best side throughout the whole tournament. That gives you an opportunity to showcase exactly how good you are as a team.

On the first leg of the tour of Australia late last year, we played two Tests, and then went back and played a series at home. So I don't think acclimatisation will be an issue. Coming back is not like being chucked into the unknown. We have had three practice games to play ourselves in, so it should not be too difficult for our guys to adjust.

The guys are now a lot more knowledgeable about their own games. That is particularly important if you want to do well on tours: knowing your game, fine-tuning it, and trying to improve it everyday. As a team we are just going to focus on what we are good at, the Sri Lankan brand of cricket: being aggressive and positive throughout, bowling disciplined lines and lengths, and backing it up with the best fielding performance we can muster.

Discipline with the ball will be important. Nowadays you see very few ODIs where bowling sides run through batsmen; it is very difficult to blast people out, especially with the wickets getting better by the day. The side that bowls the most disciplined lines and lengths comes out on top. You might have the best fast bowling attack in the world, but that is no guarantee that you can go out and dominate batsmen.

Our advantage is that we have a varied attack. In the past three or four years, our guys have become better at holding their own when it comes to bowling great areas. That's exactly what we are going to work on: to make sure we have the variety and the accuracy to put pressure on the opposition, and if we can do that for a longer period than the opposition, we know have a great chance of winning.

Nowadays you see very few ODIs where bowling sides run through batsmen; it is very difficult to blast people out, especially with the wickets getting better by the day. The side that bowls the most disciplined lines and lengths comes out on top

With the start of the one-dayers, I am back to keeping wicket, which is something I have always enjoyed. It is going to be an interesting series for me. I am pretty happy with my personal batting form, but that is hardly a guarantee for a good performance. I am just concentrating on working hard in the nets, to make sure I am confident coming out of training, and carry that confidence into the game.

We are excited to have a few new players who weren't with us for the Tests. Ishara Amerasinghe, Dilruwan Perera, Chanaka Welegedara, and Chamara Kapugedera are all promising cricketers who have not just talent but ability. They will be raring to go out and play and show what they can do.

The last time we played ODIs, we lost the series to England at home, but that is not going to bother us. This is a different situation, a different time, and we have grown out of that. We have become a better unit since then. It will be interesting to see how we measure up against these two sides. We are here to try and win the series, but we are under no illusion that it is going to be easy.

Despite the friction going on between the Indian and Australian teams, and our board also taking a stand, there was never a worry on our part about the future of the series. We knew exactly where we stood as a team. We were watching what was going on with interest. We are happy everything has been settled to a degree of satisfaction and that we are getting back to cricket, which is what all the teams are here for.