Tour review

Sri Lanka v West Indies, 2015-16

Sa'adi Thawfeeq


Angelo Mathews collects the trophy from Garry Sobers and Michael Tissera, Sri Lanka v West Indies, 2nd Test, P Sara Oval, Colombo, 5th day, October 26, 2015
Angelo Mathews collects the trophy from Garry Sobers and Michael Tissera after winning the Test series 2-0 © AFP
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Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of Sri Lanka

Test matches (2): Sri Lanka 2, West Indies 0 One-day internationals (3): Sri Lanka 3, West Indies 0 Twenty20 internationals (2): Sri Lanka 1, West Indies 1
After successive home defeats by Pakistan and India, the Sri Lankans kicked off a new era - their first series without both Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara - by winning their two Tests against West Indies. They swept the one-day internationals, too, before West Indies salvaged something from a miserable tour with victory in the second Twenty20 game.

It was a tough assignment for 23-year-old Jason Holder, who had replaced Denesh Ramdin as the Test captain after some impressive one-day showings. As ever, West Indies were in a state of flux: this was their first tour for years without the steadying influence of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, while Chris Gayle was not sighted at all after undergoing surgery on his troublesome back in August. Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard were selected only for the Twenty20 leg, angering the new coach Phil Simmons, who had wanted them for the 50-over games as well. He blamed their absence on "too much interference from outside in the selection", comments which meant he was suspended by the West Indian board; Eldine Baptiste took temporary charge.

Sri Lanka were also under new command, following Marvan Atapattu's surprise resignation early in September after the India series: Jerome Jayaratne, who had a modest first-class career as an all-rounder in the 1990s, took over as interim coach, and presided over such a happy atmosphere in the dressing- room that the players asked the board to keep him on.

As so often in Sri Lanka, spin was the visitors' undoing. Rangana Herath claimed ten wickets in the innings victory at Galle, and five more in the Second Test, to take him close to 300 overall. He had promising support from Milinda Siriwardene, another slow left-armer and, at 29, a latecomer to Test cricket. But there was a setback for off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal, a prolific domestic wicket-taker, who managed only one expensive scalp at Galle. He had been reported for a suspect action after the series against India, which seemed to affect his confidence.

The West Indian batsmen struggled in both Tests - their highest total in four attempts was 251 - and managed only three half-centuries, two of them by Darren Bravo. The bowling was equally uninspiring, though a remarkable burst by part-time off-spinner Kraigg Brathwaite set up an outside chance of victory in the Second Test. Brathwaite had claimed only three previous first- class victims - and just one in Tests - but now took six for 29. West Indies were left needing 244 to square the series, but subsided to 171.

Sri Lanka's 2-0 victory made them the first holders of a new trophy between the sides, named after Garry Sobers and Michael Tissera, a Sri Lankan captain from pre-Test days. Sobers flew in for the Second Test, and gave a tearful speech: "My whole obligation was to West Indies cricket. I never made a run for me. I always played for the West Indies teams. Records meant nothing. I don't think we have that kind of person today."

Match reports for

Tour Match: Sri Lanka Board President's XI v West Indians at Colombo (SSC), Oct 9-11, 2015
Scorecard

1st Test: Sri Lanka v West Indies at Galle, Oct 14-17, 2015
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2nd Test: Sri Lanka v West Indies at Colombo (PSS), Oct 22-26, 2015
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Tour Match: Sri Lanka Board President's XI v West Indians at Colombo (Colts), Oct 29, 2015
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1st ODI: Sri Lanka v West Indies at Colombo (RPS), Nov 1, 2015
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2nd ODI: Sri Lanka v West Indies at Colombo (RPS), Nov 4, 2015
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3rd ODI: Sri Lanka v West Indies at Pallekele, Nov 7, 2015
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1st T20I: Sri Lanka v West Indies at Pallekele, Nov 9, 2015
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2nd T20I: Sri Lanka v West Indies at Colombo (RPS), Nov 11, 2015
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© John Wisden & Co