Cricket: Is Sri Lanka in a Bungle Daze?
What is happening to Sri Lanka Cricket? Is this the Bungle Daze of our times or is it the time of Bungle Days, stretching into months and perhaps years? Now the Indians are here.
Why are we seemingly bungling? Or is it simply the nature of things? When the stalwarts are gone, and the batting engine that had Sanga and Mahela is refitted with new parts can it take to the new demands? Are we bound to have this seeming lull in success? Meanwhile, our top line bowlers are not quite as successful either.
Great teams of the past, when they lost a set of their greats at one go, bonked for a while. There seem to be patterns to success in team sports noted after the fact. Success may be relatively long-lived or short. And be it The Invincibles, The Caribbean Conquerors, The Awesome Aussies, The Brearley English, The Pollock Proteas, The Fearsome Pakis, the Daunting Dhoni Boys, the Wombats, the Bandicoots, all have their sets of heroes. One colossus or few towering giants plying their craft, plundering runs or laying ruin to the opponents batting, and supported by others who more than seldom perform out of their skins. That’s what makes for great teams. Units that perform together and having their own harmony
Sri Lanka has had their success and we tasted it big time in 1996, we say! A generation ago, that was, many Bungle Days between then and now. We were great or good and came very near the top but not quite reaching the pinnacle.
Are we now in a Bungle Daze? Are we making many small mistakes with our Cricket that seem to align unfortunately? Saturn and Venus kind of aligned recently. Sri Lankans tend to consult sages to see the possible import of planetary alignment before they venture forth to cash their checks, as if it were.
Was this the best we could have done given what we had? One view is that it is kind of like that. Is Sri Lanka forging a team? Is it like the Pakis, who seem to be building most of the time since Imran and Akram. No harm in that if the larder is deep and talent is plentiful, lots of experimentation can take place.
Given the different formats, the differences in playing venues, teams are built around a core with some players coming in and out of the team.
Look at the Ashes contest and the wild swings in fortune. Who is in a Bungle Daze now? And the South Africans? One for the not so Bungle Boys!
There is virtue to hang on to players through thick and thin, giving it time to mature. But doing so might be to take a chance that the entire enterprise will “die on the vine”. The Aussies who came to South Africa in 1970 were rated good but were beaten comprehensively by perhaps one of the greatest Cricket teams not to have played in the world arena. The South Africans had beaten Australia in 1966/67 as well. By then many top players retired almost together. The longer that a team stays together and plays quite well, are the chances that when players leave the team will unravel and building a new team will take longer? Is it true when players play a long time replacements for them are harder?
The Aussies went into a tailspin thereafter. Sri Lanka has to take time to build and make a team with what is has not what it lost to retirement. It will be nice to have a team that gives a good account of itself and wins often enough that makes believers out of any spectator, believers that Sri Lanka can win against the best team with close to an even chance. I hope we will come out of our Bungle Days and make winning a more regular habit. Not simply getting close but actually winning the close games.