SA Invitational XI v Sri Lankans, Benoni December 8, 2011

Invitation side will test Sri Lanka - Vincent Barnes

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South Africa's Invitation XI will play a vital role in sizing up Sri Lanka ahead of the three-Test series. The teams have not played each other in the longest version of the game since 2006 and Sri Lanka have been strangers to South African shores since 2002, resulting in a degree of unfamiliarity between the two sides.

Sri Lanka's obvious strength lies in their batting line-up, headlined by two former captains, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. However, they the likes of Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne, who are awaiting their first Test caps, and Kaushal Silva and Lahiru Thirimanne, will have to rise to the challenge of supporting them consistently.

With batting being talked up as the key to Sri Lankan success by their captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, it will be crucial for them to learn how to play on South African pitches, against South African bowlers, quickly. "The key for Sri Lanka will be adjusting to the conditions and the pace and bounce of the pitches," Vincent Barnes, Invitation XI coach, told ESPNcricinfo.

Barnes, who was South Africa's bowling coach for eight years, will also be keenly watching Sri Lanka's attack, which is almost unknown to South Africa. The only familiar face is Dilhara Fernando, who toured South Africa nine years ago. The other seamers, Chanaka Welegedara, Nuwan Pradeep, Thisara Perera and Angelo Matthews have only played 36 Tests between them, none against South Africa.

With South Africa expected to prepare seamer-friendly pitches, Sri Lanka's bowlers may be looking forward to the prospect of helpful conditions but Barnes warned that they will also have to make adjustments. "When bowlers play on fairly unresponsive pitches most of the time and they get to South Africa, they tend to bowl too short," he said. "They will have to work on their lengths."

Sri Lanka's bowlers' first taste of a South African surface will be on Friday in Benoni, traditionally one of the more passive pitches in the country. Barnes expects it to play in the usual way, although it has shown signs of defying that recently. "The pitch looked good," Barnes said. "There was a match earlier in the season when the Titans were bowled out cheaply and the pitch had a lot of grass on it, but there is a lot less now."

That means a repeat of the South Africa A game against Australia in Potchefstroom last month which ended in less than three days is unlikely. Barnes was in charge of the South Africa A side during that game. Although Australia won comfortably, Barnes was satisfied that his team had succeeded in making the visitors feel uncomfortable and gave them minimum time in the middle.

He would like the invitation side to replicate some of those tactics. "That's our job, we are not going to make it easy for them, we're not here to give Sri Lanka glory," he said. The team consists of only five members of the XI that played against Australia because of a fixture clash. The final of South Africa's domestic one-day cup, which will be played between the Cobras and the Warriors on Friday, meant that the selectors were forced to pick from a smaller group of players. They also chose not to include any of the members of the Test squad, a different tactic to the one they employed against Australia.

Then, Vernon Philander forced his way into the starting XI with fiery spells, Marchant de Lange announced his presence with a five-wicket haul and Alviro Petersen railed against being dropped with a fighting century. "The two stand-outs from that match were Alviro and Marchant and look where they are now," Barnes said. Petersen was recalled and de Lange has been handed his maiden call-up.

This time, a different team has been put together. The only players on the fringes of the national team are left-arm spinner Paul Harris, wicket-keeper Thami Tsolekile, two players who Barnes said, "will want to use this so that the selectors will take notice."

For the rest, Barnes sees it as a way for the country's next tier of players to make an impact. "It is a wonderful opportunity for them to play world-class opposition," he said. "Gary [Kirsten] told the guys a story about how he was given the chance to play in an invitation side against India because of injury to someone and he did not look back since then."

Barnes is also a national selector and by being part of games like these can assess players when they are moved a step above franchise level. "I have watched a lot of domestic cricket this season and I have been able to identify who the really nuggety, gritty players are," he said. One of those is Knights' batsman Dean Elgar who has been a regular in A teams and invitation XIs for the past three seasons, "He is pushing hard for a place in the national team, there is a queue and he probably just has to wait for his turn, but he is pushing hard."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 10, 2011, 2:26 GMT

    if sl batsmen do well in the 1st inning..then we have a chance of winning a test match

  • on December 9, 2011, 14:52 GMT

    @Trevor Greening.Thanx for ur comment.U ar a good crickert fan............ @ Darkmanx12155. Ur ar a joker.SA is a very good team.As a Sri Lankan i like to see my country become winner of the series.But SA haven't luck.Your results are jokes.I know this is a very tough tour,but i'm sure Sri Lanka can do some thing in this tour.I should be the turning point.I wish both SL and SA teams.

  • siri1234 on December 9, 2011, 14:21 GMT

    lol vincent barnes u will not take us lightly .we will not take the chokers lightly

  • Mandernew on December 9, 2011, 14:01 GMT

    My 11 for the 1 st test for sri lanka is 1.dilshan 2.chandimal 3.sanga 4.mahela 5.thilan 6.angelo 7.kaushal silva 8.thisara p.erera 9.ajantha mendis 10. welegedara 11. prdeep when shaminda eranga fit and sachithra senanayake is available they should be included instead of worst two performers (bowlers) in this series. Now senanayake has been adjudged legal so its a must to call him for the one days.i have a high hope that he will be at least 3/4 a murali for sri lanka

  • on December 9, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    coach is intelligent guys he said he never welcome our lions as an easily but who is kepler wessels ... (poor guy) doesn't know cricket ..... did ur team win any ICC wc? or any important cup recently ? did SA come to final recent past? for 10 years answer is no no no ..... but he told about SA A team good for lions..... I like to say the national team of SA is like A team to lions. remember 2003 WC SA cried (even didn't select to 2nd round in SA) So kepler talk what you know show what you have and don't be a boaster! all cricket lovers in SL

  • HLANGL on December 9, 2011, 12:53 GMT

    @"Posted by sarath1948 on (December 09 2011, 01:49 AM GMT)": I agree with the fact that SL selectors being not competent & mindless for the most part. I can also agree with the fact that the careers of Roy Dias, Atapattu were somewhat cut short. Though Roy Dias may never be regarded as a worldclass match-winning batsman by any stretch of imagination, at least had been the best & the most technically competent batsman SL had that time. With a proper batting slot, Mahanama would have done better as well. Yet I cannot agree with your implication that these were better than some one like Jayasuriya whose contribution & impact were so immense. A player like Madugalle, with all due respect to him, cannot even hold a candle in this comparison. Both Ranatunge & Gurusinghe were much better players to be taken so lightly against the likes of Roy Dias. Mahanama, T'rathne may have been acceptable players. But what's so special about Madugalles, Weththimunis ? Both were good, but nothing more.

  • Geordie613 on December 9, 2011, 11:47 GMT

    No play on 1st day, soooooo we'll wait and see

  • CricketPissek on December 9, 2011, 11:22 GMT

    I hope Mahela can score big and shut his critics up who thinks he's a flat track bully. He scored a magnificent 95 here in 2002 on his first tour, hoping he reaches 3 figures this time. If he, Sanga, and Dilshan can score 100s here, the road to redemption can start.

  • on December 9, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    @Jassim Ahmed. Thank you.

  • on December 9, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    I am a South African living in Colorado USA. May the best team win; but of course, I hope that the Proteas prevail! I have always liked Sanga and Mahela. Sanga is ultra smart and has a great sense of humour. I bet that his sledging behind the stumps is hilarious (if anyone has links to his sledging, please let me/us know). On another note: Thank heavens Lasith M. is not playing otherwise I would personally buy steel-toed boots for all the SA batsmen! SL is on my list of places to visit, and if Sanga has his restaurant up and running, I'll be the first person at the door. O.K., enough sucking up to SL. Go Proteas.......!

  • on December 10, 2011, 2:26 GMT

    if sl batsmen do well in the 1st inning..then we have a chance of winning a test match

  • on December 9, 2011, 14:52 GMT

    @Trevor Greening.Thanx for ur comment.U ar a good crickert fan............ @ Darkmanx12155. Ur ar a joker.SA is a very good team.As a Sri Lankan i like to see my country become winner of the series.But SA haven't luck.Your results are jokes.I know this is a very tough tour,but i'm sure Sri Lanka can do some thing in this tour.I should be the turning point.I wish both SL and SA teams.

  • siri1234 on December 9, 2011, 14:21 GMT

    lol vincent barnes u will not take us lightly .we will not take the chokers lightly

  • Mandernew on December 9, 2011, 14:01 GMT

    My 11 for the 1 st test for sri lanka is 1.dilshan 2.chandimal 3.sanga 4.mahela 5.thilan 6.angelo 7.kaushal silva 8.thisara p.erera 9.ajantha mendis 10. welegedara 11. prdeep when shaminda eranga fit and sachithra senanayake is available they should be included instead of worst two performers (bowlers) in this series. Now senanayake has been adjudged legal so its a must to call him for the one days.i have a high hope that he will be at least 3/4 a murali for sri lanka

  • on December 9, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    coach is intelligent guys he said he never welcome our lions as an easily but who is kepler wessels ... (poor guy) doesn't know cricket ..... did ur team win any ICC wc? or any important cup recently ? did SA come to final recent past? for 10 years answer is no no no ..... but he told about SA A team good for lions..... I like to say the national team of SA is like A team to lions. remember 2003 WC SA cried (even didn't select to 2nd round in SA) So kepler talk what you know show what you have and don't be a boaster! all cricket lovers in SL

  • HLANGL on December 9, 2011, 12:53 GMT

    @"Posted by sarath1948 on (December 09 2011, 01:49 AM GMT)": I agree with the fact that SL selectors being not competent & mindless for the most part. I can also agree with the fact that the careers of Roy Dias, Atapattu were somewhat cut short. Though Roy Dias may never be regarded as a worldclass match-winning batsman by any stretch of imagination, at least had been the best & the most technically competent batsman SL had that time. With a proper batting slot, Mahanama would have done better as well. Yet I cannot agree with your implication that these were better than some one like Jayasuriya whose contribution & impact were so immense. A player like Madugalle, with all due respect to him, cannot even hold a candle in this comparison. Both Ranatunge & Gurusinghe were much better players to be taken so lightly against the likes of Roy Dias. Mahanama, T'rathne may have been acceptable players. But what's so special about Madugalles, Weththimunis ? Both were good, but nothing more.

  • Geordie613 on December 9, 2011, 11:47 GMT

    No play on 1st day, soooooo we'll wait and see

  • CricketPissek on December 9, 2011, 11:22 GMT

    I hope Mahela can score big and shut his critics up who thinks he's a flat track bully. He scored a magnificent 95 here in 2002 on his first tour, hoping he reaches 3 figures this time. If he, Sanga, and Dilshan can score 100s here, the road to redemption can start.

  • on December 9, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    @Jassim Ahmed. Thank you.

  • on December 9, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    I am a South African living in Colorado USA. May the best team win; but of course, I hope that the Proteas prevail! I have always liked Sanga and Mahela. Sanga is ultra smart and has a great sense of humour. I bet that his sledging behind the stumps is hilarious (if anyone has links to his sledging, please let me/us know). On another note: Thank heavens Lasith M. is not playing otherwise I would personally buy steel-toed boots for all the SA batsmen! SL is on my list of places to visit, and if Sanga has his restaurant up and running, I'll be the first person at the door. O.K., enough sucking up to SL. Go Proteas.......!

  • Rasee on December 9, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    My test team 1. Dilshan 2. Chandimal 3. Sanga 4. Mahela 5. Thilan 6. Mathews 7. Kaushal silva 8. Thisara 9. Herath 10. Welagedara 11. Suranga Lakmal

    My one day team 1. Mahela 2. Tharanga 3. Chandimal 4. Sanga 5. Mathews 6. Dilshan 7. Jeewan Mendis 8. Thisara 9. Malinga 10. Dilhara 11. Ajantha Mendis

  • Darkmanx12155 on December 9, 2011, 3:39 GMT

    SL will go down and will go down very badly. test SA will win 3-0 ODI 5-0 Lets see how SL face Styn, Philander and the new dude. SL losers are no match for even a SA under 17 team.

  • WaldermaltCricketer on December 9, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    @Aman Heer..as Sri Lankans we are also happy to see that Shewag made a great double century. But here we are discussing about SL vs SA series. Don't be a joker. Asking people to STOP this discussion reflects your INDECENCY. You can celebrate the great moment of Shewag. But you can't force people to celebrate it..... @Jassim Ahmed..thanks..you are a genuine cricket fan.. @SL vs SA series.. SL is gonna face another tough situation. After the WC SL cricket has become a big big JOKE to the entire world. Players can't be blamed as former administrators made the way for SL cricket to the HELL. Players have not been paid their salaries for 8 months & they are suffering while offenders are spending luxury lives. So we cant hope much from SL cricketers in a situation like this. But hopefully they will try their level best to avoid defeats. Anyway All the very Best SL!!!!

  • on December 9, 2011, 2:30 GMT

    In one way Lankans are in a easier position than Proteas. SL know that they are gonna loose any way. So the message would be to, get out there and show who you are. They did that in Aussie. But I still feel the task is a little too big for Lions. Any way let's see how it goes.

  • Prema1948 on December 9, 2011, 1:49 GMT

    SL's problem mainly lies with their incompetent selectors. The selection committees of last 2 1/2 decades 've been predominated by very ordinary persons who lacked required knowledge of a selector, as a result, very ordinary players 've b'n allowed to represent the Country for too long than they should 've b'n. The technically correct b'men were considered as useless. Therefore many a highly talented b'men were never picked, even b'men the class of Roy Dias, Madugalle, M'nama, Thilakarathne & A'patthu were allowed to retire earlier than they actually wanted to, instead the batsmen the likes of Arjuna, Gurusinghe, Jayasuriya, K'tharana who lacked in above skills and who were never in a position to play a risk free innings were considered as indispensable batsmen.When batsmen known for reckless hitting are used as front-line batsmen, the kind of collapses occurred recently are can't be avoided.

  • sAiyAnstAr on December 9, 2011, 1:33 GMT

    This will be Sri Lanka's sternest test before coming here to Australia to partake in the Tri-Series (Hurray, it's back).

    The quick's will hopefully enjoy the conditions, and we all know that Sanga and Mahela can bat anywhere in the world. Now is the time for Sri Lanka to step-up and try to perform at their best.

    Also, the fact that they got their salaries now may help. Regardless of what people say, not getting paid does affect you psychologically.

  • tennakoon63 on December 9, 2011, 0:35 GMT

    good luck Sri Lanka. Show them you guys are no push overs.

  • playitstraight on December 8, 2011, 22:32 GMT

    Well this tour match could be interesting, I want to see if SL's pacers can take wickets on helpful wickets or not.

  • Cannuck on December 8, 2011, 22:17 GMT

    Something everyone seems to forget is that, when a talented team like SL who at the moment are going through a tough transition, is pushed to a corner, anything can happen. We know everyone expects them to lose badly, they probably know they can't win, so what's there to lose? There might be less pressure on seniors & youngsters to just go out and do what they do best without high expectations. At the same time a side like SA who are expected to walk over the struggling SL team, could take things easy only to find themselves in trouble (can anyone say choke). Stranger things have happened in cricket. Though I am not predicting a SL series win in anyway, they just might surprise a few of us, specially now they know they are going to get paid too!!!!!

  • Cannuck on December 8, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    Something everyone seems to forget is that, when a talented team like SL who at the moment are going through a tough transition, is pushed to a corner, anything can happen. We know everyone expects them to lose badly, they probably know they can't win, so what's there to lose? There might be less pressure on seniors & youngsters to just go out and do what they do best without high expectations. At the same time a side like SA who are expected to walk over the struggling SL team, could take things easy only to find themselves in trouble (can anyone say choke). Stranger things have happened in cricket. Though I am not predicting a SL series win in anyway, they just might surprise a few of us, specially now they know they are going to get paid too!!!!!

  • on December 8, 2011, 21:58 GMT

    I am an Indian too and Sehwag making a double century is a feat ofc..but what does that have to do with SA vs Srilanka...@Aman Heer...MORON

  • yorkslanka on December 8, 2011, 20:11 GMT

    i would be surprised if we lost heavily in this tour match but who knows...hopefully we can use this match to acclimatise ourselves to the SA wickets-although i am sure the test and odi wickets will be much different..it will be hard but we need to stick to the basics and play to our strengths...good luck sri lanka...

  • on December 8, 2011, 19:06 GMT

    Stop these discussions and go for the moment celebrated by Sehwag

  • on December 8, 2011, 18:14 GMT

    awww sri lanka have to play very well to south africa,they surely want their batting to click and that will give their bowlers confidence so they can challenge south africa batting line-up and i hope sri lanka will make the most of the practice game good luck sri lanka!

  • Lord.emsworth on December 8, 2011, 18:12 GMT

    Its a warm up game and anything can happen especially to the SL's who have to get used to the SA surfaces. In the tests series SL will depend heavilly on MJ, KS & Dilshan 4 bolstering the batting and if they fire (Which according to the law of averages they should) they can take on the stronger Proteas. ODI's? SL have lost a lot recently but traditionally they are miles better in the short forms. Seems like a lot of Machiavellian stuff going on in SL cricket. Add a supposed indifferent coach(Marsh) & its no surprise they are on this giant losing streak.

  • on December 8, 2011, 17:28 GMT

    Aw please bury the thought of Harris, just give us Imran Tahir!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on December 8, 2011, 17:28 GMT

    Aw please bury the thought of Harris, just give us Imran Tahir!

  • Lord.emsworth on December 8, 2011, 18:12 GMT

    Its a warm up game and anything can happen especially to the SL's who have to get used to the SA surfaces. In the tests series SL will depend heavilly on MJ, KS & Dilshan 4 bolstering the batting and if they fire (Which according to the law of averages they should) they can take on the stronger Proteas. ODI's? SL have lost a lot recently but traditionally they are miles better in the short forms. Seems like a lot of Machiavellian stuff going on in SL cricket. Add a supposed indifferent coach(Marsh) & its no surprise they are on this giant losing streak.

  • on December 8, 2011, 18:14 GMT

    awww sri lanka have to play very well to south africa,they surely want their batting to click and that will give their bowlers confidence so they can challenge south africa batting line-up and i hope sri lanka will make the most of the practice game good luck sri lanka!

  • on December 8, 2011, 19:06 GMT

    Stop these discussions and go for the moment celebrated by Sehwag

  • yorkslanka on December 8, 2011, 20:11 GMT

    i would be surprised if we lost heavily in this tour match but who knows...hopefully we can use this match to acclimatise ourselves to the SA wickets-although i am sure the test and odi wickets will be much different..it will be hard but we need to stick to the basics and play to our strengths...good luck sri lanka...

  • on December 8, 2011, 21:58 GMT

    I am an Indian too and Sehwag making a double century is a feat ofc..but what does that have to do with SA vs Srilanka...@Aman Heer...MORON

  • Cannuck on December 8, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    Something everyone seems to forget is that, when a talented team like SL who at the moment are going through a tough transition, is pushed to a corner, anything can happen. We know everyone expects them to lose badly, they probably know they can't win, so what's there to lose? There might be less pressure on seniors & youngsters to just go out and do what they do best without high expectations. At the same time a side like SA who are expected to walk over the struggling SL team, could take things easy only to find themselves in trouble (can anyone say choke). Stranger things have happened in cricket. Though I am not predicting a SL series win in anyway, they just might surprise a few of us, specially now they know they are going to get paid too!!!!!

  • Cannuck on December 8, 2011, 22:17 GMT

    Something everyone seems to forget is that, when a talented team like SL who at the moment are going through a tough transition, is pushed to a corner, anything can happen. We know everyone expects them to lose badly, they probably know they can't win, so what's there to lose? There might be less pressure on seniors & youngsters to just go out and do what they do best without high expectations. At the same time a side like SA who are expected to walk over the struggling SL team, could take things easy only to find themselves in trouble (can anyone say choke). Stranger things have happened in cricket. Though I am not predicting a SL series win in anyway, they just might surprise a few of us, specially now they know they are going to get paid too!!!!!

  • playitstraight on December 8, 2011, 22:32 GMT

    Well this tour match could be interesting, I want to see if SL's pacers can take wickets on helpful wickets or not.

  • tennakoon63 on December 9, 2011, 0:35 GMT

    good luck Sri Lanka. Show them you guys are no push overs.