Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Sri Lankan tour preview

The Sri Lankan team have arrived in New Zealand feeling a little underdone. While they will have only one first-class match before the first test, this is actually only a little more time in the middle than most of the New Zealanders will experience.

The Lankans have toured New Zealand every year for the past three years and an 'A' side toured 4 years ago, so they should be getting used to conditions here. Having said that, Sri Lanka have not done well on those tours. They lost last season's ODI series 4-1, lost the 2004/5 test series 1-0 and also lost the only ODI played in that same season.

Another concern the Sri Lankans must have is that the core of their side is ageing. Indeed, of the players currently under contract with the Sri Lankan board only Lasith Malinga, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara are under 30 - and both Jayawardene and Sangakkara are 29. Perhaps the team is not yet as elderly as the Australians, but age certainly seems to be having more of an impact on match fitness. Chaminda Vaas is still an excellent bowler, but he is in danger of losing a pace contest against Nathan Astle. Sanath Jayasuriya is another who appears to be rapidly approaching his expiry date.

New Zealand on the other hand still looks relatively youthful and fit. Daryl Tuffey recently broke down again, but apart from that most players seem fit and firing. The opening spot is still an issue, but players like Tim McIntosh, Rob Nicol, Craig McMillan and Jesse Ryder are performing well in first-class cricket and must be applying some pressure on the incumbents.

Early season wickets in first-class cricket have so far been very good, but the chance of there being some bad weather before the start of the first test must be high. Expect Vaas and Malinga to pose a threat on damp green wickets, but unless the weather throws us a surprise don't expect to see much trouble from Muttiah Muralitharan.

My pick then is to see a series dominated by the seamers, and by New Zealand.


Anonymous said...

Don't know about New Zealand dominating the series. The batsmen seem to be in poor form if the Champions Trophy was any evidence, and seaming wickets won't make it much better for them (remember the Indian tour in 2002?). Murali is a threat on any surface. A fit Shane Bond may give New Zealand an edge in the bowling stakes, but the batsmen will have to do their bit.

karel said...

err didnt we make the champions trophy semi finals by beating two of the top 5 teams in the world only losing to eventual winners Australia?...

I dont think our battings too shabby. Flemings in hot form, Aste always does well at home and quite frankly the pitches over in India were very very bowler friendly.
Im picking NZ to dominate heavily this series. Sri Lanka are a good team but always play below par over here and i think thatll continue.

parker said...

Agree with the above entry, we don't have too much to worry about playing a home series against Sri Lanka and our cricketers did OK in the Champions Trophy. Losing to Australia in a semi is, unfortunately, nothing to be ashamed of. However, it has been a while since we've played test cricket, which might be cause for concern, and person a reason to play a sensible, patient type batsman like Sinclair.

On the other hand, I'm hoping for some good, tough criket. Hopefully the Sri Lankans are more competitive than last time.