MOODY MODE: SL need break to renew resources
It is a rule of sport that whenever a team has the run of the game – whatever the sport – it gains a momentum that takes some stopping. That is exactly what has happened to the Indian team throughout this series. That first match in Nagpur gave them a high that they never really came off. Had those initial gambits of sending in a pinch hitter, and encouraging batsmen to hit big shots, not succeeded, I doubt whether the experimentation within the Indian team would have been quite as intense.
However, those risks paid off handsomely, and we must take stock of our game in light of the hectic cricket season ahead. The Indians, too, will take on an in-form South African squad, but they are playing with great confidence at the moment and backing their abilities to the hilt. We, on the other hand, have not competed as well as we could have, and though the team is still strongly bound as a unit, we need to take a break and renew our resources.
The gap between our ODI and Test series will really help in that regard. It has not been easy for the youngsters to perform at their peak away from home and going into the Tests straight away would probably have caused the scars from the ODI series to fester. A fortnight or so with their families ought to recharge their batteries, because, after all, seven ODIs is a tad too many. When we come back for the Tests, we will probably be carrying a few fresh faces and a few new strategies as well.
This has been my first away trip with the team, and we know that the forthcoming tours to India, New Zealand, Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and England over the next eight months will provide us with a terrific opportunity to reassess our strengths and weaknesses.
The Sri Lankans have in the past been described as poor travellers, and it is true that we have not travelled well in this series, playing catch up most of the time. But I personally am keen to change that and we are excited about the season ahead. At the end of the day, the Indians do not travel very well either, and any young cricketer groomed in certain conditions in India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka finds it extremely difficult to adjust to conditions in England, New Zealand or Australia. This is where county cricket plays such a vital role – you will notice that players with experience of county or English league cricket are successful the world over in conditions of any kind.
However, to return to this series, as far as I am concerned, after the 4-0 scoreline, it had become a three-match miniseries in which we are tied 1-1. The aim now is to make it 2-1 in our favour, and we will push as hard for a win as we would have done for the opening match of a series.
We will be missing Farveez Maharoof, who has split the webbing of his hand, and are yet to take a decision on Murali because we are also aware that we will require him at peak form in the coming months and want him to put all his niggles to rest. Perhaps a rotational policy as the Indians have practised is called for. Then again, our bowling has proved vulnerable on this tour – though mostly because the bowlers have not had enough runs to defend – so we will not take a call on that yet.
Whatever the team, we will go all out for a win. The boys have learnt a lot on this tour, which can only help us in the months ahead. We certainly look forward to coming back in December.
Tom Moody is the coach of the Sri Lankan team and is writing exclusively for The Himalayan Times