Bangladesh in Sri Lanka / Features

Michael Vandort refuses to take no for an answer

Back with a vengeance

It was the naked hunger and opportunism of Vandort that was the most compelling story of the day

Charlie Austin

June 25, 2007

Text size: A | A



Despite, or rather because of, a stop-start career Michael Vandort made the most of his opportunity today © Getty Images
Enlarge

If Marvan Atapattu was given a day off at Lashings CC and was able watch the opening day of this series then it might not have been easy viewing. According to Jayanda Dharmadasa, Sri Lanka Cricket's chairman, Atapattu has requested more time to overcome the "trauma" of his difficult World Cup on the sidelines. Michael Vandort, meanwhile, a opener that has been overlooked so much in his career that he might be forgiven for seeking professional trauma counseling, was, not for the first time in his stop-start career, grabbing an opportunity with a typically solid 87 not out.

The first day at the near-empty Sinhalese Sports Club was dominated by the bowling of Muttiah Muralitharan, who wreaked havoc with his devilish doosra, and the most sublime batting came from Mahela Jayawardene, who was in regal form until a calf strain interrupted his fluency. But it was the naked hunger and opportunism of Vandort that was the most compelling story of the day. With Atapattu taking a mental break in England, Sanath Jayasuriya "resting" with Lancashire and Upul Tharanga nursing a broken bone in his left foot, Vandort once again laid out his credentials.

Atapattu's controversial decision to sit-out the series could have serious repercussions. Whether he really is recovering from trauma or not, when senior players try to pick and choose tours then selectors and coaches are naturally suspicious. Trevor Bayliss may yet be convinced that Atapattu, now aged 36, still has a role to play, especially in tough series against Australia and England at the end of the year, but if Vandort keeps showing this commitment, composure and stickiness at the crease then it will be brutally unfair for him to be unceremoniously unseated later in the year.

He is organised in approach, well aware of his strengths and weakness, and quite prepared to graft hard for his runs. In a team of strokeplayers his adhesiveness could be a great asset. Atapattu should be ruing his incredibly short-sighted decision to opt-out of the tour

It is true that Vandort has a long way to go before he can claim to be equal to Atappatu, a classical batsman with a marvelous record. It is true, as well, that this is Bangladesh, the weakest Test team in the world. But you can't knock the ability to score runs when under personal pressure. He did this when he was selected back in 2002, scoring a century against Bangladesh only to then spend three-and-a- half years on the sidelines. He did it again when picked for the England tour in 2006, scoring an obdurate 105 on a tricky pitch at Edgbaston. Surprise, surprise...he seized his chance today too.

The experts seem to be in two minds about his ability to produce the goods against top-class bowlers. His fielding has also been highlighted as a weakness. But having now passed fifty in seven Test matches spread over six years, he surely deserves a proper chance to disprove his doubters. He is organised in approach, well aware of his strengths and weakness, and quite prepared to graft hard for his runs. In a team of strokeplayers his adhesiveness could be a great asset. Atapattu should be ruing his incredibly short-sighted decision to opt-out of the tour.

Charlie Austin is Cricinfo's Sri Lankan correspondent

RSS Feeds: Charlie Austin

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

TopTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Charlie AustinClose
Charlie Austin Sri Lanka editor When Charlie Austin left for Sri Lanka after graduating from Sussex University, he was a planning a winter's cricket in the tropics and a six-month stint with an environmental NGO. His mother's worst fears were soon realised when it became clear that he had fallen in love with the island. Six months have now become eight years and Colombo has become his home. He joined Cricinfo in February 2000 and now heads operations in Sri Lanka, responsible for both sales and editorial. He is also the director of a UK-based travel company called Red Dot Tours, and is currently ghosting Muttiah Muralitharan's autobiography.
Related Links
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days