Most cricket playing nations are preparing for the forthcoming 50 overs World Cup, now. Or at least they have one eagle eye trained on it whilst they go through the already agreed to games between other nations. It would be a good opportunity for teams from the sub continent to lift the trophy with home or near home advantage.
I still recall the win by Sri Lanka in 1996 with great pride. That team was well prepared and motivated. Focussed on the field, our team turned games that were seemingly slipping away to victories and thereby completing the tournament without losing a single game. True, a few games were not completed in the preliminary stage when troubles in the region caused visiting teams to shy away. The form Sri Lanka displayed, in retrospect does not take the gloss away from this aberration.
The semi final win against India to my mind was decisive. We had lost early wickets and the Indians had plenty of overs left to drive home the advantage. But we took the attack to the bowlers and got into a comfortable position. This showed a team that had plenty of depth and experience, peaking at the right time. It was all about confidence and the ability to keep a cool head when under pressure. Remember how Tendulkar was stumped? Unlike the T 20 the 50 overs format gives a team a good fighting chance to come back.
The final between Australia and us was a highly charged one. Recall that the Australian team was a very strong one and had several players performing at their best too. But, that night belonged to the marauding Sri Lankans. The team approached the score with supreme confidence and won at a trot. True, the Australians wilted on the field and gave us several reprieves. But, those were expected when a confident onslaught is on full throttle and everything was seen to be possible. We won with several key batters not even being called in to perform.
Some games were turned around when we were fielding. We had the ability to hang in there when partnerships were being built to turn the game around when a breakthrough came. Turn them around, we did. The rest is recorded history.
We get another opportunity to step on the podium at the next World Cup. Prepare we must and the time is now. The precedence is there and the Lankans must seize the opportunity.
I have been tasked with a responsibility. The position of Chairman of Selectors is a special task and the whole country expects me to deliver. Having been part of a winning team I am looking forward to the next nine months. Usually teams have four years to prepare but during the next nine months I have a plan to put in place and the lads are expected to be committed, disciplined and make sacrifices to achieve success. The team has talent and potential and they have to believe in themselves.
As Chairman of Selectors it would not be proper for me to write this column any further. The principle must be respected and I have now to bid adieu.
T20 World Cup