Daniel Byrne, whose chosen title is “The Irish arrive in Galle; A preview of the Test Series“+
When you have spent the previous four months following the fortunes of Queens Park Rangers no idea when your team may chalk up the next victory. Hence, my decision to come to Sri LFootball Club, two wins from 26 games, there comes a time when you simply have anka to follow the Test Series between Ireland and the hosts. There may even be a better chance of Ireland winning a game in th.e next two weeks than QPR.
Ireland have played four Tests to date and have lost them all. They have never been humiliated though and at times they have performed exceptionally well. England were bowled out before lunch on the first day at Lords. Pakistan was left with a tricky run chase at Malahide and in Dehra Dun, in Northern India, they were simply outplayed by a better Afghanistan side. The same was true a few weeks ago in Mirpur, but the Irish recovered from 13 – 4 to score 292 in their second innings, before eventually losing by 7 wickets. The team are not lacking in confidence and there are several players with the potential to turn the course of a game in their favour. They will win a Test match soon. The only question is when.
The Sri Lankans played their first Test in 1982 against England and had to wait until their 14th match before they were victorious when playing against India at the PSS ground in Colombo three years later. Amal Silva scored 111 in the first innings and Roy Dias 95. In the second innings Aravinda de Silva knocked up 75 and Dias added another 60 not out. Kapil Dev returned match figures of 1–142. For the Indians Sunil Gavaskar batted down the order and scored a half century in the first innings, but the bowling of Rumesh Ratnayake was to prove decisive as he claimed 9 wickets for 125 runs in the match. The Sri Lankans have never looked back from that point.
New Zealand played their first match against England in 1930 and had to wait 26 years for their first victory, arguably in a dead rubber, against the West Indies in their 45th Test appearance. The Irish will be determined to ensure their wait isn’t anywhere near as long, but as for Queens Park Rangers, the players might end up as tuk tuk drivers if their performances don’t improve soon.
Woods and I visited the main office of the Galle Cricket Club this morning to try to purchase tickets for tomorrow. Woods managed to become a Life Member of Galle Cricket Club after a truly arduous process, but still hasn’t received his membership card. The Administration Officer couldn’t be bothered to issue either the membership card or any tickets today which we were not at all surprised to discover. He has assured us that everything will be ready for us to collect tomorrow morning. Perhaps they haven’t even been printed yet?
As the two of us took a stroll around the Fort we wondered how the players would manage to acclimatise to the sweltering heat. The Irish are likely to name the same side that played in Bangladesh recently with Paul Stirling only available for the second match. The Sri Lankans have left out wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella and he will be replaced by either Sadeera Samarawickrama, who last played a Test in 2017 or the highly rated young batsman Nishan Maduskha who scored 100, 241 and 150 in the three first class matches against the touring England Lions in January and February of this year. Ireland may have preferred to encounter the inconsistent Dickwella.
Sri Lanka have rested the fast bowlers Lahiru Kumara and Kasun Rajitha after the recent tour of New Zealand and the biggest threat to the Irish batsmen will come from the spinners with left arm tweaker Lasith Embuldeniya added to the squad and uncapped leg spinner Dushan Hemantha likely to make an appearance at some point in the series.
Embuldeniya in action
Prabath Jayasuriya, the recently discovered 31-year-old slow left-arm orthodox bowler has already bagged 33 wickets in his first 5 Tests. Dilruwan Perera is currently the fastest Sri Lankan to 50 Test wickets, and he required 11 matches. If Ireland have a few bad days in the next two weeks, Jayasuriya could be grabbing all the headlines. The weather forecast is for hot, humid and relentlessly difficult playing conditions. There is no rain forecast for the next 5 days, but if things start to get totally unbearable, I’ll see what I can do.