As we discussed in these columns before, the Test played at Galle was a disappointment. Taking the visitors to our lair we floundered. The second Test was played in unknown territory as far as the newly laid wicket was concerned and to have lost the toss was no comfort. Sangakkara scored and he showed that the team can rely on him. No surprise that he is considered the best of the best batsmen around today. That’s Sangakkara.
Cricket has reached a level where it is more than a sport. It’s a way of life and a great profession to be in. Gifted with talent and skill is not the end all to persist at high level anymore. They are not even the yardstick to get into the national team. Less so to hold a place in the long term. I would say destiny would decide with a bit of luck for garnishing whether a player would get in to the national team. There is of course no gainsaying that talent and skill are required, but that alone is not quite sufficient. I know of a few players who had an abundance of talent but yet did not go beyond club level. Some not even beyond school level. They missed out due to various reasons.
There was a time that Sri Lanka did not play more than a few games in an year. So for example those who batted one to six were always available to play in every international. For the players knocking on the door to get in this was very frustrating. Many missed out by not getting a look in at the right time of their career. This is not so today with so much cricket being played.
Some were simply not willing to apply themselves though being gifted. I can recall one such player who was highly talented but never made the grade due to lack of discipline and application. Duminda Perera comes to mind and I have played along him to vouch for this. He was better than some who represented the country, nay two put together. Indiscipline and lack of attitude was cause enough for him to be just a club player. He was a fantastic bat whose skill was unmatched and a left arm slow to boot.
His skills and talent were never questioned though discipline and attitude were constantly a big question. He had an unfortunate incident in UK and there were others who breached discipline. One questions whether there should have been someone to have taken such talented though tardy kids under their charge to bring them in line. Sanjeewa Weerasinghe is another player who too was like a pop star with a single hit. Anura Ranasinghe is spoken of in similar fashion. I am certain these blokes would not let their sons do what they did.
I was fortunate to have played alongside Roshan Mahanama who was an ideal role model. He was disciplined, dedicated to the game, hard working and constantly trying to improve his skills. Look at how Aravinda worked on his game. Take Sanga, Mahela, Murali and Sanath as examples. Sanath works at it yet.
Once at the top one has to push boundaries. Parents do care for their kids making it to the top. There’s no harm going to specialised coaching schools etc. but one must never forget that there are the other aspects that will matter more at the end game than mere talent. With a place at the top comes recognition and adulation. The need to hold oneself together and be focussed on what has to be done coupled with hard work and discipline will bring rewards in the long term.