Warming up for 2015 World Cup with much promise | Daily News Online

September 15, 2014 1:20 PM

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The Sri Lankan cricketers jellying beautifully under Captain Courageous Angelo Mathews rewrote the books when they stuffed the Brits in the one-day and Test series in Old Blightey.

Then they suffered a hiccup when they were put to second best by South Africa. Then they regrouped and recovered to plaster the Pakistanis in the one-day and Test series.Now after three hectic series the cricketers can put their legs up and enjoy a well earned rest.

Their next fling will be against England in November and December where they will battle out in seven one-day bashes.After that Sri Lanka will take wing to Kiwiland for five one-day flings and Two Test matches. After the England and Kiwi series, the selectors who would have followed the individual performances of the cricketers and the team's fortunes, will be in a position to pick the squad for the all important 2015 World Cup.

Winning the World Cup to be co-hosted in New Zealand and Australia in February/March next year is not the thing it is EVERYTHING. Sri Lanka won the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh and the dollars deservedly flowed into the accounts of the players and Sri Lanka Cricket.There are dollar bags to be pocketed by the country winning the next World Cup.

So Test cricket which is what the game is all about will take a back seat while every country will be playing more one-day games in an endeavour to lick into shape one-day teams that could win the World Cup.Of the teams vying for the World Cup England, South Africa and New Zealand three of the countries in the big league have yet to lay their hands on the World Cup. They have come close, but found themselves yet so far.Australia who have won the WC most times, Sri Lanka, South Africa and India are the hot favourites to win it this time round, barring the unforeseen happening because cricket is a funny game.

Sri Lanka has a surfeit of one-day talent to choose from. The only soft positions are in the middle order batting. The softness has been caused due to the poor form of Vice Captain Lahiru Thirimanne and former T20 Captain Dinesh Chandimal.

But Sri Lanka are fortunate to have a batsman who can more than adequately fill in for Thirimanne and Chandimal and he is none other than the hugely talented former Royalist and Tamil Union cracker batsman Kithuruwan Vithanage.Vithanage has impressed this writer a lot. He is strongly built and has the correct technique and temperament for all forms of the game. What he lacks and needs is proper guidance, because he is still young and developing.One thing the selectors must guard against is to not penalize him for a little bit of indiscretion and strangle and snuff out his promising career. Cricketers with Vithanage's class don't come that easy.

Critics with no knowledge of bat and ball and who excel in digging and sniffing garbage nearly destroyed the youngster's career by highlighting his off field activities.

In this aspect I would like to reiterate what former Australian leg spinning great Bill O'Reilly told me when I was fortunate to speak to the great man during a Test match between Australia and Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground on my first tour to Australia in 1986/87 to cover the Test series for the ‘Daily News’ and ‘Sunday Observer'.Having read of the exploits of this fantastic leg spin/googly bowler I was excited to meet O'Reilly in the Media Box. He was covering the series for the ‘Sydney Morning Herald'.After introducing myself and while talking cricket the first question I asked him was: who or what should a cricket writer be? He queried: ‘Have you played any cricket? I said yes and humbly stated that I too was a leg spin/googly bowler.

He nodded and then continued to answer my question. ‘Being a cricketer it is advantageous when being a cricket journalist. Pointing to the entry gate into and out of the ground he said: ‘Your job as a journalist begins when the actors go past that gate and onto the scene of action.

‘Then your job begins. Say what you have to say. Praise them, slam them, be constructive or destructive on their play. Once they leave the field what they do after that is not your f... business’.

I have since followed the great man's advice and not gone sniffing around probing as to what cricketers, or for that matter what sportsmen or sportswomen do after the game. That is good for the writers who have nothing much to write home about, or who have not been taught the all important ethics of journalism. My second question to O'Reilly was asking him for his comments on one-day cricket.

‘I'd rather turn my chair and keep gazing on the wall opposite than watch the comedy being enacted out in the middle'.

That was ‘Tiger’ Bill O'Reilly for you. While covering the cricket, it was interesting to note that he took down his notes on an exercise book.The Sri Lanka-Australia Test series was the last he was covering for the ‘Sydney Morning Herald'. That popular and respected cricketer writer Nick Coward organized a book on cricket for him which was autographed by all cricket writers, including the writer which was presented to him.

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