Sri Lankan tails up in England as the real Test nears

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    Kumar Sangakkara was named as the best ODI player of all-time in a recent Cricket Australia poll. (AFP Photo/William West)

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    Amid controversy and triumph over a whinging England, a cock-a-hoop Sri Lankan side launch a final assault in the two-Test series which winds up a memorable away tour.

    Over the past few weeks, an unsung Sri Lanka clinically dissected one of the serious powers in world cricket in their own backyard.

    The aftertaste for the home team is bitter to say the least as they struggle to recover from their recent thrashing at the hands of Michael Clarke’s Australians.

    Beaten in the T20 game that kicked off the tour, England then had the consolation of matching it with the Lankans in the 50-over games until the decider, when Sri Lanka stole the series.

    Much has been made about Sri Lanka’s tactics to run out Englishman Jos Buttler after repeated warnings. The rules decree it as a non-event for such exchanges, whether he was warned or not.

    Besides, who pointed the finger at the Englishmen for their underhanded tactics of stealing Sri Lankan coach Paul Farbrace just before the islanders began their tour?

    Englishman Farbrace had previously sat at the helm of a rampant Sri Lankan team that had won the Asia Cup, completed a series rout of Bangladesh and taken out the T20 World Cup. His credentials saw the desperate Englishmen poach him in the hope it would save them some blushes after the Australian debacle.

    Alas, this was not to be, and the English were made to eat humble pie.

    There has been no sympathy for England from anywhere in the world as they sought solace for the run-out controversy, particularly here in Australia where the majority agreed that they got their just dessert.

    England’s bad sportsmanship even extended to accusing the Sri Lankans of cheating to get even after off spinner Sachitra Senanayake was cited by the umpires for a suspect action in game four of the one-dayers.

    Coincidentally, it was Senanayake who was at the middle of the controversy involving the Jos Buttler run out.

    What Sri Lanka can take from the proceedings is that they have hardened up as a unit, and need to play with the same ferocious competitiveness as the best teams in the world. There is no room for gentlemen in the ‘gentleman’s game’.

    Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Matthews has grown into his new role with aplomb. He appears ready to meet the challenges of the future without the expert advice of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillekeratne Dilshan, all previous skippers who will retire in the near future.

    Matthews and new T20 skipper Lasith Malinga have shown enough to suggest that the next generation is ready to fire.

    The Tests will be a totally different ball game and England appear to have the edge. But Sri Lanka have their tails up after the one day successes, so the ensuing series could well be riveting.

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