Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

New South Wales v Sri Lankans, Twenty20, Sydney

Sydney goes Baila

A NSW fan watches his Sri Lankan friends enjoy Jayawardene and Murali maul his local team

Gareth Kidd

Comments: 7 | Text size: A | A
Mahela Jayawardene guides one to third man on his way to a half-century, New South Wales v Sri Lankans, Tour Match, Sydney, October 27, 2010
Jayawardene: a mix of class and adaptability © Getty Images
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Choice of game
Despite the varying opinions on the format, it's safe to say that Twenty20 provides a great carnival experience, and is well suited to tour matches as an exhibition game. TThe Blacktown Oval is also a perfect venue: short boundaries, a small grandstand, and the rest made up of with the traditional grassy hill. Who could say no to a match with all these big names, with the cost of the ticket being cheaper than a trip to the movies? I also have a large contingent of Sri Lankan friends, many of whom I attended the game with. I later regretted that.

Accessories
Being prepared for the grass section, as well as the slightly inclement weather, I packed a few deck chairs, a rug, and two umbrellas. When I arrived, I only took the rug in with me. I later regretted, too.

Team supported
Having lived in New South Wales all my life, there wasn't much of a decision to be made, however, with Sydney having a rather large Sri Lankan population, the visitors weren't short of supporters. The flags were up, the drums were out, and it was very hard not to get swept away with the way in which the Lankans enjoy their cricket.

Key performer
There was little doubt about this one as stand-in captain Mahela Jayawardene set alight the first 10 overs. Towards the end of the Sri Lankan innings it seemed like the young spinner, Steve O'Keefe, would steal the show with a superb spell of tight bowling, but Jayawardene's innings was still the standout of the match. He played nearly every stroke in the book, with neat drives down the ground, and wristy flicks and late cuts back of square.

Shot of the day
Jayawardene takes this one, too. He has a sound technique but has managed to adapt his style in the Twenty20 arena, borrowing a shot of his fellow opener. Facing the NSW pace attack, he pulled out the "Dilscoop", and ran one down to third man for a boundary. It takes a brave man to play confidently to a ball up around the ear lobes, but Jayawardene was in an entertaining mood.

Wow moment
In the ninth over, Phil Hughes skied one off the bowling of Suraj Randiv. At this stage, NSW were in contention with wickets in hand, following the resumption of play. I felt that the young batsmen would be a pivotal part in a successful run chase for NSW. As Randiv scrambled back and took a scream of a catch, the momentum of the game swung heavily towards Sri Lanka. I think my friends noticed too…

NSW batsmen v Sri Lankan spinners
Spin came into the picture after it rained. NSW had to maintain a decent run-rate to be but with Randiv, Tillakaratne Dilshan, and the great Muralitharan working in tandem, the top order struggled to score freely. Try as they might to keep the scoreboard ticking over, it was obvious the batsmen were struggling to get under the ball. The spinners really applied the blow torch to the Blues' young top order.

Player watch
Despite being carted around the ground during his spell, the always-charming and benevolent Brett Lee offered a coy smile and a cheeky wave to the spectators near the boundary. Posing for photos, men wanted to be him, and women wanted to be with him. Yet there was no doubt who the crowd favourite was. Wherever Mr 800 fielded, the crowd cheered, and when he was handed the ball, they roared. While there were some taunts leveled at his bowling action, they were drowned out by applause and screams of marriage proposals. It's difficult to contain yourself when you're metres from cricketing history.

Crowd meter
The size of the Blacktown Oval made the smallish crowd seem a lot larger. There was a decent buzz around as all were hoping for a spectacle. In the early overs of the game, the groundstaff thought it wise to blare 20-second snippets of pop songs in between each ball. Thankfully, this practice ceased midway through the innings, most likely due to a lack of quality current music.

While my fellow NSW supporters and I were some what contained, no doubt due to the run-rate of the Lankan openers, the chant of Surangani erupted from their followers. The drums and whistles held the rhythm, and even those barracking for the local team were tapping their feet. At one stage Kumar Sangakkara, who wasn't playing the match, wandered to the boundary to run a few drinks out to his team-mates, and was stalked by a legion of fans. They had their moment to grab a few snaps and autographs before Sangakkara headed back towards the shelter of the grandstand.

Marks out of 10
6.5. The game failed to maintain the hectic pace at which it started. Even though the first quarter of the game zipped along at ten runs per over, a mixture of good bowling and few risks meant there was none of the big hitting we've come to expect from this format. The heavens opened up at the end of the fourth over of the NSWs innings, and with it washed away more than half of the crowd and the bulk of the atmosphere. In a truncated game, the highlight was definitely the spirit in which the game was played, mirrored by that of the crowd.

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Gareth Kidd is a "20-something" marketing student from Sydney. A relatively late-comer to cricket, in between study and work he withers away hours on Cricinfo's ball-by-ball coverage, and trawls the archives for facts and figures. Enthralled by Test matches, uplifted by ODIs, and intrigued by Twenty20, he is a staunch Australian supporter yet watches closely the rise of Bangladesh, and indeed cricket as a global game.

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Comments: 7 
Posted by randikaayya on (October 31, 2010, 15:11 GMT)

Great post Gareth. makes me believe more and more that the Australian fans are more likable than they were a few years ago. From a Sri Lankans perspective that is! Wish my SL go onto sweep the series and move onto bigger things at the WC!

Posted by   on (October 29, 2010, 4:53 GMT)

Great review, thanks for posting. Should be a good ODI series, but I do wish that there was a Test match thrown in there somewhere.

Posted by   on (October 29, 2010, 1:14 GMT)

We need to trash the Aussies. Seems like we are having some firepower with the youngsters in the team. Nice one Kidd....

Posted by Philip_Gnana on (October 28, 2010, 21:56 GMT)

Nice post this, Garath..well balanced and a bit of quirky article. Something in it for all to just enjoy and bring out a wry smile too. Bringing in Murali and Lee in with your own style of writing I think was rather "cute" if I could use that phrase. Sure, where there are Sri Lankans, there will be Baila. Whether you like the Sri Lankans or not, you will enjoy the music. You will be tapping your toes and lobbing your head to the music without your knowledge that is for sure. A nice Baila tune composed for the Oz market should go a long way. Alston Koch may be of help here once again. Keep these articles flowing in Gareth. By the way..well done SL, well done Mahela. Philip Gnana, Surrey

Posted by Herath-UK on (October 28, 2010, 20:33 GMT)

Nice piece Gareth.Hope SL will thrash Aussies as they did here when they toured last with an unprecedented 5/0 triumph over England. Ranil Herath Kent

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (October 28, 2010, 9:34 GMT)

That is what we need. Entertainment. Sri Lankan Brand of cricket is distinct to other cricket playing countries, probably WI a bit close. Wethter SL win or not, SL cricket fans enjoy it singing, dancing, playing drums, bands and it is a carnival.

I also went to the match with my big SL flag. Unfortunately, I did not see any AUS flag in the ground. There is no doubt more than 80% were SL supporters.

To all SL supporters: come to SCG on 05-11-10 with SL flags, wearing your SL jerseys, SL caps, drums, bands, etc and make SCG like a your own ground in SL.

Go lions go go go !!!!

Posted by   on (October 28, 2010, 8:36 GMT)

Dear Murali this is it at last after this tour you don't need to go to Australia!!! Australians, the way you treated the great man is not fair so don't misunderstand me. Murali has been very nice to Australia and as a Sri Lankan I am proud of him. Murali thanks for a job well done!!

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