Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 2nd ODI, Pallekele

Rain in Sri Lanka leaves players, fans in limbo

Scheduling yet another tour during the monsoon in Sri Lanka was always fraught with risk. But there was little Sri Lanka Cricket could have done, given how busy these two teams have been in 2012

Andrew Fernando in Pallekele

November 3, 2012

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A

The view of the Dambulla ground from the press box, Dambulla, June 19, 2010
Dambulla is in Sri Lanka's dry zone, but the stadium remains neglected by SLC © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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There's a saying in Sri Lanka that if you want rain, play a cricket match. But from mid-October to December, this rule does not apply. It is going to rain nonetheless, whether there is cricket scheduled or not. In 2010, West Indies found that out on their tour which began early in November. On that occasion, the rains became progressively worse through the Test series, and the third Test barely saw 100 overs of play across five days in Pallekele. The ODI leg that began a few days later was postponed till the end of January.

It is easy to blame Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) for scheduling another tour during the monsoon, but this time, perhaps, there was little they could have done. In 2012, there was no obvious window in which both sides - New Zealand and Sri Lanka - had nothing in their schedule, bar the few weeks during the IPL. Laying aside SLC's apparent willingness to lower themselves to any ignominy to make a buck, April and May is also a poor time to schedule cricket in Sri Lanka due to the southwest monsoon which begins around then. Aside from that, New Zealand Cricket rely on funds from the IPL to pay their player salaries, and for the smaller boards like these two, playing international cricket during the IPL is a much greater sacrifice than for the ECB or Cricket Australia.

The other option for SLC would have been to schedule more matches in Dambulla, which is in Sri Lanka's dry zone. Why SLC have neglected an asset as valuable as the Dambulla stadium is unfathomable, but again, it may not have made a major difference in this case. The rain-bearing winds that roll into Sri Lanka at this time of the year do not have to cross the central plateau to reach Dambulla because they arrive from the northeast. This means Dambulla stadium does not benefit from the rain shadow effect that is the norm at other times of the year. It may be a little drier than Colombo, but it's hardly cricket weather there either.

 
 
The teams might have to keep themselves match-ready, just in case the weather clears, but fans may as well get used watching, reading and hearing more weather updates than cricket scores from the sports reporters on this tour
 

So what the boards and the teams have ended up with is a regrettable, but somewhat unavoidable, soggy nightmare of a tour. New Zealand have had one outdoor practice session in six days. Sri Lanka, more than likely, have had none. Both teams traveled to Colombo after the rained out first ODI, but have now returned to Kandy after the second and third ODIs were moved to Pallekele because the R Premadasa Stadium is effectively under water. Thankfully for the players, they did make use of the indoor net facilities in Colombo during their short stay there.

"We haven't played much bat-and-ball cricket in a while, it's just been fitness," Kane Williamson said on the eve of the second ODI. "It's nice to get into an indoor centre. Although it's not on grass, it's nice to hit some balls."

Pallekele has been cloudy, but largely free of rain in the two days preceding the match, but scattered showers are expected for Sunday, so if any cricket is possible, fans and players may be in for a frustrating stop-start day. The pitch at least would have had little chance to dry out in the brief periods of sunshine, and it may not have as much venom as the greentop that was prepared for the Twenty20. The challenge to the players will be to assume a match-day mindset after all the downtime of the past seven days.

"The preparation is not ideal, but it's the same for both teams," Williamson said. "We have to look at it as a small distraction, switch on and turn up mentally for that game. They do cover the whole field, so as soon as it stops raining we could be out there playing, and we need to be switched on for that. It's about trusting your game. Your game can't change that much over three or four days, but those last couple of days of preparations often turn you on mentally. Without that it is an added challenge, but I don't think we need to worry about that too much if we focus on what we can control."

The weather is supposed to improve slightly in time for Tuesday's match, but beyond that, it looks as bleak as ever. The tour then moves to Hambantota, which, thankfully for the locals who had almost eight rainless months this year, has been just as wet as elsewhere in the country, and is predicted to remain that way. The teams might have to keep themselves match-ready, just in case the weather clears, but fans may as well get used watching, reading and hearing more weather updates than cricket scores from the sports reporters on this tour.

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by sajhera on (November 4, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

only old guns playing for 2nd ODI, WHY NOT GIVING CHANCES TO YOUNGER PLAYERS?Mahela think of the future cricket for our country.

Posted by Tanmaytimmy123 on (November 4, 2012, 8:06 GMT)

Why the hell they are not playing in Dambulla. perhaps the driest place in srilanka. and probably that's why it was developed over there. Funny....

Posted by   on (November 4, 2012, 6:53 GMT)

please rain go away for test mathes

Posted by Prabhash1985 on (November 4, 2012, 6:04 GMT)

I think Sri Lanka should play more test cricket. I just recently read Lasith Malinga's discussion with Andrew (ESPN CricInfo). He had told he learnt a lot from the Test matches he played, than any other format. I think people like Chamara Kapugedara, should get the chance to play more test cricket, so that they get relieved of pressure. Chamara Kapugedara is a great player. Too much of expectations on him makes him hell stressed. Everybody is saying that he is no use. But, I think, it's time for cricket board to construct "no pressure" platform to let the talented, but stressed players like Kapugedara, Kandambi, Chamara Silva, to appear in international level where people don't expect too much from them. Then they will go back to their usual place. Remember, Mahela failed consecutively around eight or nine times in ODI. Failure is the key to success. Pressure is sometimes bad.

Posted by Sinhaya on (November 4, 2012, 5:48 GMT)

@Dashgar, you are spot on right! We made a big mistake by building a stadium deep in the middle of nowhere in Hambantota. We should have instead made the Colombo R Premadasa Stadium an indoor stadium helping us play cricket all year hassle free. But the nearby lake overflowing last week may have still caused problems at this juncture.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2012, 4:41 GMT)

hey guys colombo is sooo clear i hope kandy too. im on the way to kandy

Posted by Dashgar on (November 4, 2012, 0:56 GMT)

Sri Lanka need an indoor cricket stadium like Docklands Stadium in Melbourne.

Posted by KingOwl on (November 3, 2012, 23:44 GMT)

I would like to see all the ODIs together with the T20 washed out. I am rather tired of the shorter game, having watched so many in the last few months. I want to see test cricket and I hope the rains will go away by the time the tests start.

Posted by   on (November 3, 2012, 20:55 GMT)

where ever match plays We want gud cricket

Posted by sameeratharanga on (November 3, 2012, 20:49 GMT)

Dont wory guys. rain completly away from pallekale. We can expect full game today. Cheers..

Posted by Cricketfan11111 on (November 3, 2012, 20:43 GMT)

10% of a player's salary goes to his board. Say if Ross Taylor is auctioned for $1,000,000 NewZealand board gets $100,000 out of it and Taylor gets $900,000.

Posted by   on (November 3, 2012, 20:24 GMT)

Last time I heared 'limbo' was when I watched 'Inception'

Posted by   on (November 3, 2012, 20:01 GMT)

they changed the venue as colombo stadium is flooded

Posted by Lermy on (November 3, 2012, 18:59 GMT)

"They do cover the whole field". Great, so do the flood waters, forget about covers, they should be building an Ark!

Posted by   on (November 3, 2012, 18:46 GMT)

yorkshire-86 - even the boards get % amount out of every nz contracted player IPL salary .. i had read in some cricinfo blog itself sometime back ..

Posted by   on (November 3, 2012, 17:34 GMT)

@yorkshire-86 nz players get more money from the each ipl season than their whole nz contract for a year. Therefore as part of the contract they have to be given tim to play at the IPL

Posted by Sinhaya on (November 3, 2012, 17:16 GMT)

I think rains have passed away now and the ODIs should get through. But by the time tests start, rains will come again. But hope rains will stay away till December. Since Friday, it has been sunny in Colombo.

Posted by   on (November 3, 2012, 16:32 GMT)

But y did they changed the venue ?? It's not raining since 2 days 4 Colombo ?? Y did they changed the venue?? Im waiting 4 the match !! But both was washed out !! Feeling so bad !!

Posted by   on (November 3, 2012, 16:27 GMT)

Dambulla stadium is sorely missed, not on this occasion yes, but overall. The seats of Dambulla stadium are now at Hambanthota stadium

Posted by yorkshire-86 on (November 3, 2012, 16:21 GMT)

How does the NZ board rely on the IPL? IPL does not pay anything to other countries boards, only to the 4-5 players lucky enough to get contracts with a franchise.

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