December 13, 2012

The legacy of Lahore 1996

Sri Lanka haven't achieved all they could have since their World Cup win, but whatever they have done is in spite of the system
  shares 55

Does it seem long ago that Arjuna Ranatunga lifted the World Cup or does it seem like yesterday? Was it the making of Sri Lankan cricket, as we all hoped, or was it a moment of progress in an otherwise chronic tale of political expediency? Is Sri Lankan cricket an imperium of its own? Whatever your take, the sight of Arjuna with Benazir Bhutto and Ian Chappell, the MC, jostling for position with myriad hangers-on, was one of cricket's more memorable images.

Ranatunga was a crafty batsman and brilliant captain, but above all else, he was and still is a politician, a man who knows how to get his way.

Since that day in March 1996, Sri Lanka have played in two other World Cup finals and lost both. Once to Australia in Barbados in 2007, then to India in Mumbai last year. As much as the moderns - Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara - have carried the team with the excellence of their play, nothing has quite matched Ranatunga's sheer force of will, force of nature even. Such leadership is gold. It transcends the game, or the event, and it brings together unlikely elements that make the biggest difference. Frank Worrell did as much for West Indies more than 50 years ago, somehow uniting the islands of the Caribbean in the common purpose of cricket.

Jayawardene is the present captain. It is his second crack at it after interim spells from Sangakkara and, briefly, Tillakaratne Dilshan. He does a hell of a job, given that Murali has gone and Lasith Malinga doesn't do the long form. And that the high-brow infighting continues to make life unpleasant for the players. At his superb MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture in 2011, Sangakkara pointed to this. He figured that making a few enemies was worth it. Incensed by the prevarication over payment to the team, Sangakkara had resigned the captaincy and freed himself up to say what he thought. It is vitally important that someone with influence listens. Sri Lankan cricket is too precious to lose its way and there are suggestions that it may do just that when Jayawardene and Sangakkara move on. Recently Haroon Lorgat, the former ICC chief, completed an independent review that reported on 22 points of necessary action. If these are embraced a more encouraging future may lie ahead.

It is worth taking this into account during the next couple of months. The Sri Lankans have achieved despite the system at home, not because of it. When they were in Australia earlier this year for the one-day series, Jayawardene managed to joke about his team's financial insecurity. But it is neither funny nor fair. Cricketers commit, so should their employer. It also suggests that what was achieved by Ranatunga and his men in Lahore back in 1996 has not left the legacy it could have.

Perhaps there is inevitability here. In the way West Indians let things wash over them, Sri Lankans have an internal scrap. Barbados is a tiny island. It has produced some of the finest cricketers to have played the game but right now the production line has frozen up. Does it matter? Yes, but not so much that everyone is at each other's throats. Cool breeze, the Caribbean way.

Sri Lanka is a small island. Like Barbados, cricket is played in streets, fields and on beaches, reflecting its value to the country's well-being. Since the late 1970s many fine players have brought cheer. Ranatunga brought unbridled joy. From that point on, everyone wanted a piece of it and infighting became a common theme as board chairmen and CEOs changed so fast they merged into one unreliable governing body. Sri Lanka was also an island of civil war. This makes for resilient people, and it is the resilience of the players that has kept the game above ground.

There is a whisper that the Australian team has lost its ruthlessness. Nonsense. Give them Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath; Adam Gilchrist and the best of Ricky Ponting, and the opposition will be buried - alive, if at all possible

Whatever we see from the Sri Lankans in Hobart and beyond will be worth applauding. Arguably Sangakkara is the best batsman in the world. He gave up wicketkeeping in Test matches to become so. Jayawardene at his best is sublime, all straight lines and delicate touch. Angelo Mathews has real talent. Actually, most of the Sri Lankans have real talent but find concentration a problem, brought up as they have been on a diet of the short forms of the game. It is one thing to bowl four-over spells when the slog is on, quite another to winkle out a man in a Test match. Unless a more relevant first-class structure is in place, the situation is unlikely to change. Sri Lanka compete with reserves of passion and skill but are bereft of organisation and support. Thus, Test cricket is more challenging for them than it might be.

Australia's issues are very different. By chance, this is not an obviously strong period of cricket for a country soaked in the game. Fascination with the Big Bash League does not help. South Africa exposed the fragility that most Australians already knew of. The front six could go to the crease in pretty much any order; only Michael Clarke has not opened the batting full-time. Clarke should bat at No. 4 but is inexplicably reluctant, so Shane Watson will move again. Phil Hughes is sparkling at first-class level and will surely bring his electric talent to the Test-match scene for good this time.

The three best young fast bowlers are injured - let's not go there - but there is enough in the cupboard of the Sheffield Shield to justify a Test-match standard attack, albeit one without devastation at its fingertip. The wicketkeeper and offspinner have something about them but are learning at Test level rather than through the tried and tested fields of the first-class game. Both rather proved this against South Africa, giving a good account and then falling a tad short in moments when something out of the box was needed.

There is a whisper that the Australian team has lost its ruthlessness. Nonsense. It is about the quality of the cricketer. Give them Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and the best of Ricky Ponting, and the opposition will be buried - alive, if at all possible.

The challenge for Australian cricket is in the general order of things, what and who is important and why. This has long been a strength, but may have lost a little in translation during the game's recent period of immense change. Commissions and reviews raise as many questions as answers. Sound thinking and common sense is the Australian way. Clarke knows this best of all and will continue to use it as his reference. His own batting is something to behold. The expression in his captaincy is more dependent on those around him. Clarke versus Jayawardene promises much, for both men promote all that is good in the game.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Prabhash1985 on December 16, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    If you have watched 1992 world cup match against South Africa, you will definitely realize that Sri Lankans were in the quality of winning the world cup. Mahanama and Jayasuriya took marvelous catches, while almost everybody fielded incredibly. Those days, that sort of fielding was not available. If you watched that match, you will say definitely that it was a quick process to bring World cup to Sri Lanka. Arjuna once said, that what they wanted to do was, ease the pressure off Aravinda. And arguably, Aravinda's class is not reached by any sub continent batsmen. I know Sachin is great, but I haven't see such a nice stroke maker, and a pacey killer like him. In Javagal Srinath's (that great gentleman's) words, Aravinda attacked the pace bowlers like drinking water.

  • on December 15, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    lads-please realise lanka is choosing from a small pool of players. also the ethnic strife that it has endured. they have gone beyond them selves in the shorter formats. kings can be made.

  • SixoverSlips on December 15, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    Non-sense. Who do you think you are to speak for Sri Lankan cricket? The '96 World Cup has done a world of good for Sri Lanka. It has roused an entire island nation to cheer and celebrate Cricket that is only matched by the past West Indies. Sri Lanka has arrived big time to world cricket after the '96 World Cup.

  • Shrekk on December 14, 2012, 20:23 GMT

    Is that Zaka Ashraf to the left of Benazir?

  • Htc-Android on December 14, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster i dont agree with u mate.we beat india in a league game at indian soil. Also top 4 will reached the QF. Even if we played and lost those cancelled matches, we would have still made it to the QF, because Zimbabwe and kenya are weak teams in that group. Also we won QF,SF and final comfortably. So deserve the world cup.

  • RoshanF on December 14, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    Mark Nicholas got is right about the Sri Lankan cricket shambles especially the political interference that is so prevalent. Someone mentioned about the 2011 WC final - "fishy" is being very conservative. Evidence is clear - even Indians do not gloat about it too much as they are given to whenever Indians get hold of anything. As hst84 says, where Mark goes over the top is when he talks of Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist and Ponting and how they will bury everyone had they been around. Well had Messrs. Holding, Roberts, Garner and Marshall, at their peak, been around even the current Windies team would have incinerated every single team around today and for the past 20 years including the Aussie teams of Waugh and Ponting. Burials would not have bee needed.

  • RohanMarkJay on December 14, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    Yeah Arjuna Ranatunga started being Mr Nice guy like so many SL cricketers early in their career. However he soon discovered international cricket like life itself is very difficult and tough, no one takes any prisoners with people constantly gunning for you in a dog eat dog world. He quickly changed his approach, becoming a very tough hard as nails leader for Sri Lanka. As a result the team played for him and was driven by him.The team that won in 1996 was a team he had nurtured for 10 years previous.He defended Murali from unfair accusations, because he was tough and he wouldn't take any crap or sledging from England, Australia, Sth Africa, New Zealand etc on or off the field. This made him very unpopular with opposition teams, but he was merely giving back their own medicine. don't think Murali would have become the player he was or SL winning the world cup without Arjuna Ranatunga's principled strong leadership. It won Sri lanka a world cup.A Capt like him is what SL needs.

  • hst84 on December 14, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    (There is a whisper that the Australian team has lost its ruthlessness. Nonsense. It is about the quality of the cricketer. Give them Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and the best of Ricky Ponting, and the opposition will be buried - alive, if at all possible.) C'mon its like giving every team their former players and the situation will tilt any way !

  • ca2ca on December 14, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    @ Pieris, Its a stupid to say A.Gilchrist cheated. He got hold hold of the situation and got over the SL bowlers. Anyhow a not a final what one expect. There is always a winner and looser. So simple. But 2011 final in Bombay was so fishy, it smelled like bad curry pot.

  • ca2ca on December 14, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    @Vineesh Vedsen ,

    ah these Indians everywhere. Just bash other cricketing nations even when they are getting hammered in their own backyard. Mate ask yourself, with 1 billion people ( perhaps 1 million cricketers) what have you achieved ? Look in to failures of your own first before criticising others. Enjoy the life man !!!

  • Prabhash1985 on December 16, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    If you have watched 1992 world cup match against South Africa, you will definitely realize that Sri Lankans were in the quality of winning the world cup. Mahanama and Jayasuriya took marvelous catches, while almost everybody fielded incredibly. Those days, that sort of fielding was not available. If you watched that match, you will say definitely that it was a quick process to bring World cup to Sri Lanka. Arjuna once said, that what they wanted to do was, ease the pressure off Aravinda. And arguably, Aravinda's class is not reached by any sub continent batsmen. I know Sachin is great, but I haven't see such a nice stroke maker, and a pacey killer like him. In Javagal Srinath's (that great gentleman's) words, Aravinda attacked the pace bowlers like drinking water.

  • on December 15, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    lads-please realise lanka is choosing from a small pool of players. also the ethnic strife that it has endured. they have gone beyond them selves in the shorter formats. kings can be made.

  • SixoverSlips on December 15, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    Non-sense. Who do you think you are to speak for Sri Lankan cricket? The '96 World Cup has done a world of good for Sri Lanka. It has roused an entire island nation to cheer and celebrate Cricket that is only matched by the past West Indies. Sri Lanka has arrived big time to world cricket after the '96 World Cup.

  • Shrekk on December 14, 2012, 20:23 GMT

    Is that Zaka Ashraf to the left of Benazir?

  • Htc-Android on December 14, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster i dont agree with u mate.we beat india in a league game at indian soil. Also top 4 will reached the QF. Even if we played and lost those cancelled matches, we would have still made it to the QF, because Zimbabwe and kenya are weak teams in that group. Also we won QF,SF and final comfortably. So deserve the world cup.

  • RoshanF on December 14, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    Mark Nicholas got is right about the Sri Lankan cricket shambles especially the political interference that is so prevalent. Someone mentioned about the 2011 WC final - "fishy" is being very conservative. Evidence is clear - even Indians do not gloat about it too much as they are given to whenever Indians get hold of anything. As hst84 says, where Mark goes over the top is when he talks of Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist and Ponting and how they will bury everyone had they been around. Well had Messrs. Holding, Roberts, Garner and Marshall, at their peak, been around even the current Windies team would have incinerated every single team around today and for the past 20 years including the Aussie teams of Waugh and Ponting. Burials would not have bee needed.

  • RohanMarkJay on December 14, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    Yeah Arjuna Ranatunga started being Mr Nice guy like so many SL cricketers early in their career. However he soon discovered international cricket like life itself is very difficult and tough, no one takes any prisoners with people constantly gunning for you in a dog eat dog world. He quickly changed his approach, becoming a very tough hard as nails leader for Sri Lanka. As a result the team played for him and was driven by him.The team that won in 1996 was a team he had nurtured for 10 years previous.He defended Murali from unfair accusations, because he was tough and he wouldn't take any crap or sledging from England, Australia, Sth Africa, New Zealand etc on or off the field. This made him very unpopular with opposition teams, but he was merely giving back their own medicine. don't think Murali would have become the player he was or SL winning the world cup without Arjuna Ranatunga's principled strong leadership. It won Sri lanka a world cup.A Capt like him is what SL needs.

  • hst84 on December 14, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    (There is a whisper that the Australian team has lost its ruthlessness. Nonsense. It is about the quality of the cricketer. Give them Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and the best of Ricky Ponting, and the opposition will be buried - alive, if at all possible.) C'mon its like giving every team their former players and the situation will tilt any way !

  • ca2ca on December 14, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    @ Pieris, Its a stupid to say A.Gilchrist cheated. He got hold hold of the situation and got over the SL bowlers. Anyhow a not a final what one expect. There is always a winner and looser. So simple. But 2011 final in Bombay was so fishy, it smelled like bad curry pot.

  • ca2ca on December 14, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    @Vineesh Vedsen ,

    ah these Indians everywhere. Just bash other cricketing nations even when they are getting hammered in their own backyard. Mate ask yourself, with 1 billion people ( perhaps 1 million cricketers) what have you achieved ? Look in to failures of your own first before criticising others. Enjoy the life man !!!

  • on December 14, 2012, 12:00 GMT

    @mgr125128: '96 wasn't a fluke. It was good tactics and resource utilisation at the time.

  • on December 14, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    What has SL achieved after all. They are at best a minnow basher. Taking the example of just India, among the major countries, which is the closest to their country and very similar climatic condition, have they ever come even close to a win in a test in India. On the other hand, India slapped a drawn series in SL. We have always won a test per series from 2001 onwards in SL. Very obviously they have been performing much worse in other countries. Jayawardane makes 374 in SL, and then struggles to get to 37 and 47 outside SL.Its only Sangakarra that they survive on.

  • Viraj_Hewage on December 14, 2012, 2:59 GMT

    Arjuna is Sri Lankas greatest captain in my life time since 1969 , no doubt. He was not the most popular, most articulate , most stylish nor the most talented , but he had the hunger to win , he wasnt happy to be second best, whenever possible he choose his team and even if he could not, he managed to get the best out of the team both in and out of the field. He found did not romantisize defeat , he did not play to draw games , he knew that a defeat in pursuit of victory is more respectable than playing for a draw, he was not eternally learning nor did he find excuses for every defeat. He thought winning was more imporant than uplifting spirit of cricekt. He took decisions and stood by them steadfastly.

    A good cricketer is not necessarily a good captain and vice versa. We havent found any since Arjuna Ranatunga. Hope and pray we will.

  • Chris_P on December 14, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    I am not sure where these "hate Ranatunga" posts have come from. To my knowledge this was never the case. He was a shrewd tactician, no doubt, but he did push the sporting boundaries past the usual accepted limits, & being the true politician, he always played the "battling smiling underdog card" which was actually quite adept of him. It has been a while since I have been in SL, so know little of how their current fc structure is, but I hope the resources are being utilized, because SL is still a tough series to win there & cricketers always want to test themselves on the toughest stage.

  • Chris_P on December 14, 2012, 1:22 GMT

    @Mbd Peeris. Cheating with a squash ball?That is the reason you lost? LOL. I guess the use of a runner when being unfit justifies sporting intent in your opinion? Actually, MN summed up Aussie cricket pretty well, still got good to very good players but somewhat down on the incredible talent on show in that golden period.The hiccup with the overall retirements saw us drop to #4 (#5 briefly) then work our way slowly up. To be blunt, if we had of won the Perth test & got #1, it would have been somewhat hollow because we are still far short of being the complete team, but to be #3, close to # 2 with a team still improving means we are heading in the right direction, unlike some others.

  • KingOwl on December 13, 2012, 23:37 GMT

    I think there is a lot of truth in the article, about SL. The system is messy. People are talented and resilient. Cricket achieves things despite the system. But it is the same for the whole country. People are smart - I say this without any negative thoughts towards Western people among whom I live - people in SL are smarter than people here in the West. They have to be, to be successful in a place like SL. Cricket will thus continue to succeed despite the system. In terms of performance over the last decade, I ask this question - Take 50 over and T20 - is there any nation, other than Australia, which has been consistently at the top in world cups? I don't think so. In test cricket, they are not consistently at the top. But the reason is simple. SL does not have very tall, very strongly built fast bowlers, due to our genetic make up. The simple fact is that such bowlers are needed to take 20 wickets in test cricket, especially away from home. Only dietary changes will solve that!

  • ca2ca on December 13, 2012, 23:23 GMT

    Sri Lanka put the mark on world cricket in WC final 1996 but it also started the downfall due to politicization and greedy crooks creeping in to SLC. Malmanagement and corruption let players to perform without payments. Talent is there but how they groom is another story. I think for most of the present players money (IPL) is more important than commiments we saw in Arjuna, Aravinda, Murali or Sanath. Sad Oh about 2011 WC final lost to India, hope someday someone tells why Aravinda de Silva(then Chief selector), Sanga as captain and Mahela as VC threw put down their posts. Or can we believe the whispers then, that SL politicians sold the final ? Now SLC jokers want scrap test cricket to pave the way to more bang bang 20T. What Ranatunga once predicted "IPL will kill SL cricket " has started.

  • RuwanFer on December 13, 2012, 23:05 GMT

    Great article! To my knowledge, SL is the only country (at least among top 8) that doesn't play consistent 4-day 1st class tournament (club matches are only 3-days). Without implementing a far better domestic system we'll go no where in test cricket.

  • Mitcher on December 13, 2012, 21:36 GMT

    @Mbd Peeris: Wipe the tears mate. You didn't win, get over it!

  • mgr125128 on December 13, 2012, 20:20 GMT

    There are two ways of looking at it. One fluke win followed by continuous string of choking failures on consistent basis. After the win in 1996 nobody mentions the mauling the SL team got in 1999 and 2003 world Cup with same stars. So it is fact it was fluke.

  • on December 13, 2012, 20:12 GMT

    Adam Gilchrist didn't cheat and Australia was so far ahead of Sri Lanka at that stage they would have won anyway. Australia was indomitable and intimidating as Sri Lanka was back in 96, they really took it up to the aussies. I get totally amazed by these knockers of the australian teams when they were at their greatest. They always want to pick out something to discredit the team. I wonder why ? Its probably the only thing they can do because there is nothing else there. To discredit a team like australia was back when they were tops is nothing but tall poppy syndrome

  • Cpt.Meanster on December 13, 2012, 18:39 GMT

    To be honest, SL were helped on their way to this win by many teams. Most of their home games were cancelled due to dangers of terror which earned them easy points. A substantial reason given the format of that tournament. Had SL played those games, one can't be certain they would have even made it that far into the competition. Still, the amazing feature of that SL team was Jayasuriya's batting at the top. The pinch hitting phenomenon took the world by storm. Him and Kalu were simply a delight to watch along with some fine show from Aravinda De Silva.

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on December 13, 2012, 16:41 GMT

    @ProdigyA: At least there was a genuine outburst of emotion all around with that ceremony. SL success, genuinely happy Pakistanis cheering on SL. Could you imagine if that had been India, two men and his dog would have shown up with one of them crying that India didn't make it.

  • mark2011 on December 13, 2012, 15:35 GMT

    .....''Arguably Sangakkara is the best batsman in the world. He gave up wicketkeeping in Test matches to become so''... wow what a nice line this is... thanks Mark making true comment... I wonder whether how many Indian would agree with that... without claiming no it is someone from India... as always they do...haaa

  • on December 13, 2012, 15:27 GMT

    For Sri Lankans, a Ranatunga like dominancy is needed to control the team and its spirit. After the World Cup win in 1996, the money started to come in, and politicians tried (and are still trying) to have their piece of the pie. Till things become 'corrected' in Sri Lanka, SL-cricket needs a strong 'dictator' who'd do what is needed. If this does not happen, Sri Lankan cricket will go the BCCI way.....

  • ARad on December 13, 2012, 14:54 GMT

    TEST cricket victories are all about BOWLING. Much credit should be given to HERATH for keeping the Sri Lankans' head above the water since the departure of Murali (and Vaas). But he is reaching his mid 30s. Is there anyone else who is of international class coming through?

  • Gloryof96 on December 13, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    @stomy16, yes it was Aus who pushed us for test status and we will ever be greatful for that. I will even go on to say, though how much I hate about their on-field antiques, I admire them for the way they play, you can guarantee that they will fight teeth n nail. SR Waugh was not the must beautiful to watch, but you can bet your bottom dollar he gives the true meaning to the word "Guts"

    I have not seen a single Indian players since VVS Luxmans 287 at the Gardens about guts, grit n glory!!! SRT is an achievement list player but how many times we have seen SRT playing a Luxman innings in his world record 193 Tests matches?????????

  • ProdigyA on December 13, 2012, 14:16 GMT

    The picture above reminds me of the presentation ceremony for the Final. People were so desperate to get on to the stage that there was no room for the captain himself. Got to go down as one of the worst and pathetically organised presentation ceremony in the world.

  • Gloryof96 on December 13, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    The man in question Ranatung, his words are so prophetic ...... "IPL will kill test cricket" .... sooner BCCI admit to that and not get greedy, it will help Ind recover from the mess they are in now. I am an admirer of India's past cricketing history but Indian cricket today is the laughing stock which is truly sad!! If Ind do not react, they are looking at a bottomless pit and get left behind in International Cricket (after all IPL is only domestic cricket)

  • stormy16 on December 13, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    Aus stirs up most SL's but its not just SL - Ind, Eng, NZ, WI, SA all get stirred up against Aus and is the blue ticket item on their respective cricket calender. Given the dominance they had for so long its not a surprise. Not sure how many of you are aware or if I am even correct, but Aus supported SL in obtainng test status when other's, notably the WI, protested. Those were the days when the WI refused to even play SL - how things have changed.

    Agreed with the write in that SL has some real issues ahead in terms of lack of talent, particularly batting, which has been their strenght. I can recall Atapattu being spoken of world class when he was in school. Everyone know Ara would be special at a very young age. I dont see that sort of talent comming through. More worringly alot of the younger batters have technical deficiencies which will be exposed at test level.

  • on December 13, 2012, 13:05 GMT

    If not for Gilchrist cheating with the squash ball and also the organisers, urgency to finish the match in bad weather, Sri Lanka could have won in 2007 also.

  • on December 13, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    @Sleep Is God: The exact same thing was told, when Ranathunga era ended. Out of nowhere Sangakkara sneaked in to the team replacing Kaluwitharana and became Sri Lanka's best and world's one of the best. The reason why Sri Lanka has been one of the top cricketing nations is that Sri Lanka has the strongest school Cricket structure, and its still very much alive. So how could you be so sure that Sri Lanka won't produce more like those three? In fact Mathews, Chandimal could be the next Sanga and Mahela.

  • Gloryof96 on December 13, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    Correction on my earlier post which should read "bowling" and not "blowing" .... lol

    Also, some people should stop living in dreamland and not talk so big and run down the smaller teams like SL, Zim and Bang. If they are so right, why are Ind getting hammered by Eng at home unless there is a conspiracy [or any other excuse(s) which they will produce after the 4th test]!!!

    We are a very small poor island nation with a population of 20 million, we love our cricket but cricket is not our religion PERIOD

  • sneakybastard on December 13, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    hats off to Mark! nice one fella.

  • yakironi98 on December 13, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    @Rajiv Do you seriously think that India is inspirational cricket team? They can't even beat England at home. There only interest lies in IPL and that's it!

    Teams like West Indies, Pakistan and even New Zealand are on the Rise where as India are going down hill!

    Talk about being naive..

  • on December 13, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    @lukecannon, your sentence is not making any sense to what Rajivkrishnan said

  • Herath-UK on December 13, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    Sri Lanka's 96 win has been hailed as the second best sports acheivement in the century only behind Kiwi's yachting victory by London tabloids;this shows how great this win was! Ranil Herath - Kent

  • Gloryof96 on December 13, 2012, 12:09 GMT

    Very good article Mark, ..... Yes Aus arent at their best but they still can do damage to teams with weak blowing like SL, Ind and WI. To win in Aus you need quality pace bowling, nevermind quality spinners which we do not lack naturally. Most probably we will lose this series but as long as we give a good account of our selves I would not be too dissapointed.

    With a 30 year war, not having a rich cricket board, not having the best of facilities, players not getting paid as in Ind, Aus, Eng and SA, etc, etc ...... SL have done much more than what other nations can only dream in the few years (30 years) of International Cricket. SL's test record to date is far better than Ind and NZ which started playing nearly 100 years ago.

  • on December 13, 2012, 12:09 GMT

    Mark Nicholas you have made a factual error.

    "It also suggests that what was achieved by Ranatunga and his men in Lahore back in 1996 has not left the legacy it could have"

    It is because of the WC win that things fell apart, Thugs and crooks wanted in on the action, political action to help get the crooks in started, the rest is history.

  • lukecannon on December 13, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    @Rajiv Radhakrishnan- Wow i enjoyed watching England thrash India in their own backyard. That is so UNINSPIRING.. lol...

  • Sulaimaan91 on December 13, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    @SleepisGood the same was said when Arjuna,Aravinda,Hashan were about to leave but SL produced cricketers like Mahela,Sanga.SL has never had a good U19 or junior cricket team, we always produce players from outside the system and that is something which will continue.

  • Warm_Coffee on December 13, 2012, 10:37 GMT

    @Rajiv Radhakrishnan - No disrespect but once the experience Sri Lanka trio is gone, Sri Lanka will fall like a pack of cards. Even your Under-19 team has fallen behind with not so much talent :D

  • here2rock on December 13, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    Australians love beer belly cricket players, Merv Hughes, Ian Botham and Davis Boon are just a few examples. They had a love hate relationship with Ranatunga, they generally admired his fighting skills.

  • on December 13, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    Sri Lanka do not capture the imagination in Test cricket. Whenever India, England, South Africa, and Australia play each other it is fantastic. Pakistan and West Indies used to be in that bracket too. Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Pakistan, and West Indies don't inspire. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are not Test teams.

    Sri Lanka are a fantastic ODI and T20 team, innovative and entertaining. Pure class.

  • Thamara on December 13, 2012, 9:44 GMT

    I don't mind Sri Lanka losing this test series at all. To be honest, it is on the cards. What I am worried about is the way they lose the series. I hope this will be a good learning tour for most of Sri Lanka's youngsters. If they live up to our expectations during the series, it will be enough for me to be satisfied. I want Players like Chandimal, Nuwan Pradeep, Mathews to perform well in this series. Because they are extremely talented cricketers although they themselves haven't understood that properly yet. First of all, Sri Lanka should stop relying on Mahela and Sanga when it comes to batting. Other batsmen should also try to get involved in scoring runs. Whatever the result at the end of the series is, Sri Lanka should take away something positive from this series. That is my only expectation. These are the kinds of series that can toughen cricketers up and enable them to take their talent to another level.

  • Baber_Baloch on December 13, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    Great Rana is not hated person he is lovely.. good successful captain and good man gentle person ..he take SL cricket that which Bangladesh other nation still struggling until if u remember he was cool best player in that time.

  • Prabhash1985 on December 13, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    Only thing I know, "If you want to defeat Australians, RESPECT them NEVER". Just beat them insanely.

  • Webba84 on December 13, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    Ranatunga is not hated in Australia, the vast majority of us here have great respect for him. Contrary to popular belief Australians don't hate cricketers from other countries any more than anyone else.

  • Nuwan_R on December 13, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    It's very inaccurate to describe the rivalry as hate. Over the years, Australians have done a lot to help Sri Lankan cricket, we have had lots of Australian coaches and players coming over to help. On the field, tempers may flare, but with stuff like T20 these days i think players from both sides get to interact a lot more and know each other pretty well.

  • johnathonjosephs on December 13, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    Ranatunga may be one of the most hated figures in Australia, but outside Australia he is viewed as one of the best captains the world has seen. He was the only person who stood up to the injustice and bias of umpires and fought them face to face

  • Nuwan_R on December 13, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    why would you say Ranatunga is the most hated? All he did was stand up to them.

  • Shafi79 on December 13, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    @redneck - funny that you guys should hate the guy that stood up to the bully's. Lets face it mate, whenever a team visits down under they get ruthlessly bullied, and Ranatunga took the fight to you guys and you hate him ... lol. Truth be told, we hated the Aussies real bad too back then, not anyone in particular all of them :)

  • on December 13, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    Its two teams going thru a phase of change...finding who can fit where...SL has a more experienced batting line up than AUS but could be found wanting in AUS conditons...The bigggest problem for SL is its weak bowling but the AUS batting line up is also new and vulnerbale at times... SL problem is leadership is nothing new....MJ has done his best but still has not had the killer instict to take SL over the line...the lastest T20 finally where he blew probably the best chance to win a silverware is no coincidance...i In Mathews yes there is talent but he might just about inherit one of the weakest SL teams ever unless some new sensations are unearthed...its a worrying phase and SL does not have a sound support group around unlike other boards...which effectively makes it a daunting task altogether...

    But SL is known for its grit and dertemination and the more hurdles it has, it seems more determined...and comes triumphant..or close to that (as it was in the world cup finals of recent!)

  • on December 13, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    Mark, you cannot competing against a statement that Australian cricket has lost its ruthlessness (and I agree it has not), by saying - look about the personnel. Warne, McGrath, Ponting and Gilly were once in a generation players - Warne once in a lifetime, probably). Austrialia will not replace them with equal quality - but they used to be excellent - if not that dominant even before these four came along. Can we compare by looking at the previous few Australia teams? Border. Taylor. Boon. Slater. G Marsh. McDermott. Hughes. Healy. Jones. Alderman. Lawson. etc.... The Waugh brothers cover both the generations... Does this current australia team match the above in skill? Yes, and then some. In mentality? Not even close!

  • lukecannon on December 13, 2012, 3:33 GMT

    I remember that. Great cricketer and ambassodor of the game ranatunga. sanga and mahela failed twice each. For the sake of SL fans i hope Mathews can deliver.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • lukecannon on December 13, 2012, 3:33 GMT

    I remember that. Great cricketer and ambassodor of the game ranatunga. sanga and mahela failed twice each. For the sake of SL fans i hope Mathews can deliver.

  • on December 13, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    Mark, you cannot competing against a statement that Australian cricket has lost its ruthlessness (and I agree it has not), by saying - look about the personnel. Warne, McGrath, Ponting and Gilly were once in a generation players - Warne once in a lifetime, probably). Austrialia will not replace them with equal quality - but they used to be excellent - if not that dominant even before these four came along. Can we compare by looking at the previous few Australia teams? Border. Taylor. Boon. Slater. G Marsh. McDermott. Hughes. Healy. Jones. Alderman. Lawson. etc.... The Waugh brothers cover both the generations... Does this current australia team match the above in skill? Yes, and then some. In mentality? Not even close!

  • on December 13, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    Its two teams going thru a phase of change...finding who can fit where...SL has a more experienced batting line up than AUS but could be found wanting in AUS conditons...The bigggest problem for SL is its weak bowling but the AUS batting line up is also new and vulnerbale at times... SL problem is leadership is nothing new....MJ has done his best but still has not had the killer instict to take SL over the line...the lastest T20 finally where he blew probably the best chance to win a silverware is no coincidance...i In Mathews yes there is talent but he might just about inherit one of the weakest SL teams ever unless some new sensations are unearthed...its a worrying phase and SL does not have a sound support group around unlike other boards...which effectively makes it a daunting task altogether...

    But SL is known for its grit and dertemination and the more hurdles it has, it seems more determined...and comes triumphant..or close to that (as it was in the world cup finals of recent!)

  • Shafi79 on December 13, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    @redneck - funny that you guys should hate the guy that stood up to the bully's. Lets face it mate, whenever a team visits down under they get ruthlessly bullied, and Ranatunga took the fight to you guys and you hate him ... lol. Truth be told, we hated the Aussies real bad too back then, not anyone in particular all of them :)

  • Nuwan_R on December 13, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    why would you say Ranatunga is the most hated? All he did was stand up to them.

  • johnathonjosephs on December 13, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    Ranatunga may be one of the most hated figures in Australia, but outside Australia he is viewed as one of the best captains the world has seen. He was the only person who stood up to the injustice and bias of umpires and fought them face to face

  • Nuwan_R on December 13, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    It's very inaccurate to describe the rivalry as hate. Over the years, Australians have done a lot to help Sri Lankan cricket, we have had lots of Australian coaches and players coming over to help. On the field, tempers may flare, but with stuff like T20 these days i think players from both sides get to interact a lot more and know each other pretty well.

  • Webba84 on December 13, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    Ranatunga is not hated in Australia, the vast majority of us here have great respect for him. Contrary to popular belief Australians don't hate cricketers from other countries any more than anyone else.

  • Prabhash1985 on December 13, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    Only thing I know, "If you want to defeat Australians, RESPECT them NEVER". Just beat them insanely.

  • Baber_Baloch on December 13, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    Great Rana is not hated person he is lovely.. good successful captain and good man gentle person ..he take SL cricket that which Bangladesh other nation still struggling until if u remember he was cool best player in that time.