The final Test of the 3-game West Indies vs Srilanka series is hours away from the start. Soon, West Indies’ cricketing fortress Bridgetown Barbados will be in full swing. Chances are, regardless of it being a batting or bowling friendly pitch, Sri Lanka might reign. If you were to consider the real gainers of the recently-fetched draw among the two sides- then it’s Sri Lanka.
By reducing the West Indies to 66-4 on the final day in pursuit of 296, Sri Lanka held the upper hand. Not the West Indies. Not only did they put behind the tremors of Trinidad, resulting in a 226-run loss, they piled on lots of runs on a wicket difficult to bat on.
Sri Lanka batted well when it most mattered
On more occasions, given the varying bounce- it seemed that putting bat to ball was tough. Still, Mendis contributed handsomely, as did Dickwella.
Captain Chandimal stood up and answered with the bat. Importantly, when it was most required. Sri Lanka must be credited for that.
However, what they cannot be credited for, in any case, is for downgrading the sport intentionally.
And continuingly facing away from the wrong they had done. By this time, their most die-hard fans know what the topic is and somewhere, deep inside feel guilty about the very side that has given world cricket legends like Sanath Jayasuriya, Muralidharan, Aravinda De Silva, Kumara Sangakkara.
But how do their fans feel about this current Sri Lanka side?
If Day 4 and 5 had Sri Lanka’s dominance written all over it, Day 3 was about the guilt that, surprisingly, wasn’t even admitted.
One notes, without even hearing from arguably, their finest ambassador of the game, that there must be a lump in the throat of Kumar Sangakkara about what his team led cricket to on that fine, sunny, cozy St. Lucian morning.
Now, nearly half a week since the drawn St. Lucia Test, Sri Lanka have had the decency to admit they had “ball-tampered.”
What on earth were they doing for the two and a half days back then?
What sort of a joke is this?
Fans, critics, sporting pundits, number-crunchers and just about anyone who has a last fickle of hope in Test cricket today- wants nothing but a result. It’s these fascinating five-days of pure cricket that they all crave.
It’s the ethereally simple contest of grit versus patience, defensive batting versus clever bowling, the muscle of the willow and the guile of the bowler that cricket seeks from what’s rightly upheld as the greatest contest of them all.
Sri Lanka, by ball-tampering and then brazenly not admitting about it, backstabbed Test cricket. Above all, they showed their backs to the very conductors who are in charge of administering the game cleanly. That day, it were Aleem Dar and Ian Gould.
Forget the not taking to the pitch. We could have pardoned Dinesh Chandimal and team. Forget arguing with umpires. Fans have seen much worse. Fundamentally speaking, when a Josh Hazlewood can have the audacity to use a cuss word for the third-umpire in midst of a live cricket contest, then these were just a bunch of players in a regular verbatim.
What might have worried the cricket lover is that led by their captain, the team lied openly about not having applied an external substance to tamper the ball with.
Who was Sri Lanka fooling?
To have now admitted about their misconduct, utterly undesirable, they have not only shot themselves in the foot but hurried themselves into a dark corner where none would want to guide them to light.
What captain’s role did someone talented and hitherto respectable like Chandimal play? You are compelled to wonder- would such a thing have happened had a Sangakkara or Jayasuriya or Mahela led from the front?
For a team, that, in its current redevelopment phase should’ve instead focused on purely playing competitive cricket, the narrative spun out of context.
Surely, it doesn’t help the cause that Chandimal has copped himself a 1-Test ban. Where does that leave his reputation?
Importantly, playing with dignity and pride, the basic principles that uphold this great sport of ours, one wonders does Sri Lanka need to get schooled?
And all that said, were the side completely oblivious to the events that transpired in March, in South Africa where Australia didn’t exactly generate worldly praise for their act?