News24

Lankans to find SA too spicy

2011-11-23 12:58

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – A glance at the Sri Lankan Test squad named this week to tour South Africa only confirms that, weather-permitting, the Proteas really must set their sights on a 3-0 clean sweep.

It is not an unrealistic expectation, especially as Graeme Smith’s side are under real pressure now to string together a consistent run of Test-match victories at home after too many seasons of costly, all too fitful bouts of excellence.

And if the time has come for the Proteas to get mean, then the Lankans, I’m afraid, look appropriately like lambs to the slaughter.

Hopefully suitably chastened by the failure to beat unsettled Australia, South Africa have ground to make up after simultaneously dropping a notch to No 3 spot on the ICC Test rankings; not the ideal step in their quest to haul in England at the top of the present pile.

As much as ever, though, the Test landscape is looking stubbornly like a two-tiered affair, with England, India, South Africa and Australia in the “super league” – currently all with ratings under the ICC system of over 100 – and then Sri Lanka in fifth heading up, with due respect, the various also-rans.

They have just come off a 1-0 reverse to Pakistan in the neutral United Arab Emirates, and were also beaten 1-0 at home weeks earlier in a three-Test series against the very side the Proteas have just shared the spoils with.

Sri Lanka will not represent a complete stroll in the park for the South Africans at, respectively, Centurion, Kingsmead and Newlands, as they have certain indisputably world-class individuals and, when they last toured England earlier this year, had plenty of tenacious moments despite another series defeat.

But their big drawback in visiting these shores next month is a dangerous lack on wisdom on conditions here, with the Proteas presumably not shy to seek reasonably typical tracks that give meaningful aid to their pace arsenal.

Sri Lanka’s last of three Test trips to South Africa was as far back as 2002/03 – they have lost each time, and sport a total of six reverses and a draw in seven Tests here – and as a result they will bring a largely naive 16-man squad.

Only three from their ranks – their kingpin Test batsmen Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, plus recalled fast bowler Dilhara Fernando – have ever been involved in prior five-day combat in South Africa.

And even the two, blue-chip batsmen, who have often enough provided massive heartbreak to South African bowlers on the benign Lankan pitches, are hardly veterans when it comes to dealing with the completely different demands of our tracks.

Sangakkara, for instance, may boast 103 Test caps and an average of 56.93, but he has only played a miserly five of those in South Africa, at a shade under 40. 

Of course this will also be the first time that Sri Lanka tour here without a certain, 800-wicket Muttiah Muralitharan, the great off-spinner who could pretty much keep one end occupied all day in Test matches during his glittering 18-year career.

It is not as though a pace department containing Messrs Fernando, Welegedara, Pradeep and Lakmal is going to automatically preclude South African groundsmen from leaving a little green tinge here and there on Test pitches.

Certainly this far out from the series, I tip a hot summer for the Lankans, and it will have nothing to do with the weather.

The high stakes for South Africa from a collective performance point of view hardly help the tourists, either ...

Sport24

Comments
  • The-third - 2011-11-23 13:13

    Sri-lanka hardly a crowd puller (for tests anyway).

      Jono - 2011-11-23 14:18

      Test cricket in general are hardly crowd pullers. Its the most boring sport format in the world...2 of the top 4 teams in the world in test cricket rankings played against each other and there were hardly anyone there. And they were our biggest arch rivals…what does that tell you??? people only go to cricket matches to drink, can u imagine how boring it would be if you wernt allowed to drink at a cricket game?

      The-third - 2011-11-23 16:37

      No I don't agree chief. Test cricket is like chess and can be way more exciting than any other form (if both teams are willing to play with intent, that is). I just don't think Sri-lanka has what it takes to "test" our team, which is the point - after all.

  • Fakir - 2011-11-23 13:55

    Since when does "reverse" mean "loss"? It's used twice with this meaning in the article. Strange...

      Heiku - 2011-11-23 14:42

      The English are constantly changing english. Just to confuse the rest of us. Nothing to see here.

      Fakir - 2011-11-23 15:00

      i agree heiku, but it seems like rob houwing is singlehandedly trying to change english. i have heard of reverse sweep and reverse swing, but never a "reverse"

      Christian - 2011-11-23 15:09

      reverse (n): 2 : an act or instance of reversing; especially : DEFEAT, SETBACK *suffered financial reverses*

      Fakir - 2011-11-23 15:55

      ok, so technically it might be an appropriate word, but i hope i never have to read it again, because it sounds weird, especially twice in the article! why not just say "defeat" like 99% of people in the english speaking world.

  • Deon - 2011-11-23 15:02

    I am sorry Malinga is not playing test cricket anymore, some of our bowlers can learn from him.

  • Ramesh - 2011-11-24 19:29

    Sangakkara was in his early 20s last time..Last time South Africa toured Sri Lanka they lost 2-0 in TESts & 5-0 in ODIs..Champion trophy 2009 SL thrashed them in doctored South African wickets.Also SL did better than SA in 2003 world cup..True that SL is going through a hard time,but still we wont lose 2-0 & 5-0 like South Africa.

  • Ramesh - 2011-11-24 19:32

    Also Sri Lankans are finalists in last two world cups but SAns are just quarter finalists

  • Mayan - 2011-11-25 13:43

    I will cut my throat if SA beat US 3-0 and 5-0, SA is the stupidity cricketing team. chokers. they will surely chock in one dayers, my guess. 1-0 test SA favor. 3-2 or 4-1 in one dayers SL favor.

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