Arthur glorifies Dhananjaya and ‘Brian Lara’ like Embuldeniya – by Sunil Thenabadu (sports editor – eLanka)

Arthur glorifies Dhananjaya and ‘Brian Lara’ like Embuldeniya  – by Sunil Thenabadu (sports editor – eLanka)

Arthur glorifies Dhananjaya and ‘Brian Lara’ like Embuldeniya  - by Sunil Thenabadu (sports editor – eLanka)

Sunil-ThenabaduMickey Arthur was quite emotive and touchy after his final game as Head Coach of Sri Lanka on Friday in Galle winning comprehensively the test and series.. 

His was the sort of jovial parting that few Sri Lanka coaches had not received. The team won the match by 164 runs, and the series 2-0. In the first innings, West Indies had been 24 runs behind Sri Lanka’s total with only three wickets down, when Ramesh Mendis inflicted himself on the game, and triggered a collapse. 

“The game was itself was having fluctuating after a rock-solid start the Sri Lanka batsmen  collapsed dramatically to be all out for a meagre 203. After day one I thought we were in prime position (Sri Lanka had been 113 for 1),” Arthur said. “And then they knocked us over the next day. And then, they themselves had a good partnership. We did know that wickets fall in clumps here. It was tough to start. Once you got in, it became a lot easier to bat. Ramesh Mendis’ spell in the first innings brought us back into the game. A lead of 49 was not insurmountable.” 

Sri Lanka also began their second innings batting poorly with the skipper Dimuth and one drop Oshada been foolishly run out then the third wicket fell with a lead of only 24 when de Silva came to the crease. He helped Sri Lanka recover with a 78-run partnership with Pathum Nissanka, putting  on 51 runs alongside Mendis, and then really changed the game with the 124-run tenth wicket stand he succeeded with Lasith Embuldeniya, who hit 39. 

“Dhananjaya de Silva’s innings was simply outstanding,” Arthur said. “On a pitch like this, the ease with which he played was phenomenal. It just showed how artistic he is as he had recued the team several times in dander. That, for me, was the defining moment. I knew that once we got a lead of 250, our spinners would do the job for us. So that innings of Dhananjaya de Silva’s was supreme. He couldn’t have played it without Lasith ‘Brian Lara’ Embuldeniya at the other end. 

“In terms of pressure of match situation, and in terms of pitch condition, the innings Dhananjaya played here, it was one of the better innings I’ve seen. It was remarkable. That’s testimony to the amount of work he’s put in. And it’s testimony to his talent and what a wonderful player he is.” 

Mendis was the Player of the Series in the first full series he has played for the Test side, taking 17 wickets across  two matches, in addition to his role with the bat was commendable. Although at the lower levels, Mendis has been believed of as a batting allrounder, it is with the ball that he has proclaimed himself at the top level. He has 26 wickets now at an average of 21.53, after eight bowling innings. 

“One thing Mendis does do is he spins the ball really big,” Arthur said. “We’ve just had to work on him being really consistent with his lines and with his lengths – the attacking lines that he’s worked on. I was just sitting next to [batting coach] Grant Flower out there and we were watching the guys out in the field. And I was saying, which guys have really made an impression on you? For both of us it was Ramesh Mendis. 

“He’s toured with us almost since when I started two years ago. He didn’t play many games at the start, but every tour, he’s the guy that’s training the hardest. He wanted more and more throw-downs. He always wanted to bowl. He’s worked hard at his fielding. And I just think he’s getting his just rewards now. I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s an attacking cricketer, and he’s going to be an asset for Sri Lanka.” 

Arthur has been with the Sri Lanka team for two years now, and given the travel restrictions to Australia, has spent almost that whole time either in Sri Lanka, or with the team as they travelled. With many players going straight into a Lanka Premier League bio-bubble on Saturday, the series-winning celebration on Friday night is Arthur’s last occasion to devote time with several of the players he has coached in that time. 

“I’m going to get really emotional tonight, when we eventually say farewell, because the characters who are in that dressing room are remarkable. They’re really a wonderful bunch of players and bunch of people.” 

Sunil Thenabadu

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