Sunday, April 22, 2007

Once Upon a Time (a Man Called Ranjit)

As written by a keen observer of Ranjit Fernando put it with a humorous touch...

Once upon a time there lived a man called Ranjit Fernando in sunny Sri Lanka, a land of milk and honey often referred to as Paradise, previously known to the Colonial British rulers as Ceylon.

This man was “no mug with the ball or bat”, having kept wickets and opening the batting for St. Benedict’s College in Kotahena. It was “never going to be an easy proposition” selecting him to play for the national team since ijn comparison to the rest of the contenders at that time his cricketing ability was “nothing to write home about”.

However, the man was “gathering impetus” in the local cricket scene playing and excelling in club cricket during the P Sara Trophy season every year. Finally, he came out with a surge, “Breaking the shackles”, and ended up as a commentator for World Cup and ICC Cricket matches across the globe. A great achievement for Sri Lanka, no doubt, but not a very pretty predicament to all the millions of TV listeners across the planet.

Although one could easily claim that his style of patter was a “trifle short” of what was needed to be able to deliver the state of the game across the airwaves, he still kept on “fluttering away” under the tragic assumption that he was still an “experienced campaigner” who was willing to exercise a “valiant effort” in carrying out his tasks effectively.

While we are all aware that he is trying his best to “maintain his composure” in order to be able to “marshall his troops” it is sad to note that he always ends up as a terrible “tormentor” to the ears of the peasant public who make every attempt to try and get a glimpse of the game and find out what’s really going on in the middle.

It may be said that he is not one of those whose “pitch has good carry” he surely does put us common people into some very hot “pressure cooker situations” most of the time.

I guess one can say that he is a “sort of” a cool character in his own way and his lovely wife seems to think that he should spend more time in the garden where he is supposed to be one of those who can really “sweep, and sweep well” too.Since he does wear spectacles it is not unusual for him to have misread a stunning bowled dismissal for a cracking boundary through point, no doubt. We cannot be unfair on ageing men no? After all the man must now be in his mid sixties, I believe?

So now that Ramani too has entered the fray of bashing the poor fellow lets hope that things wont get out of hand when he returns home to stay? We hope, at least, that he will not have to sleep on the couch downstairs? That would be cruel aney! Ehema kiyanna epa...paw ne?

We just want them to live happily ever after!


Anonymous said...

One can say that is quite funny

Lanka Personalities said...

Among the League of Nations employed to do commentary work is former Sri Lanka international, Ranjit Fernando. The great Richie Benaud was a great advocate of the "art of silence. You have to know when to talk, and when not to," he would say. Maybe Fernando should heed the advice. "He nearly hit that ball, but he really didn't make contact... the batsman hits just short of fielder... that ball was in the air for a while, but it didn't quite reach the fielder," he says. Well, the viewer can see that and the commentator should be trying to offer some insight, or bring something different to the box.

Anonymous said...

The Rediff Interview/Ranjit Fernando

'Aravinda D'Silva has lost his motivation'

Edward Ranjit Fernando, wicket-keeper-opener of the Sri Lankan cricket team in the 1975 World Cup, has been associated with Sri Lankan cricket even before the island nation was accorded Test status, having represented Lanka in close to 30 unofficial Tests.

He parlayed his career as a cricketer into an equally successful one as television commentator before being pitchforked into the job of managing the current Lankan side. And now he finds his job cut out for him -- the World Cup holders are not in the best of form, injuries are taking their toll of the senior stars, and overall, the defending champions don't look too hot during the buildup to the World Cup.

Ranjit Fernando discussed these, and other problems, in a free-wheeling interview with Faisal Shariff. Excerpts:

What's with the defending champions? There seems to be a dramatic slump in form...

Yes, I do admit that. We carry the world champions' tag, and it has been a rough ride in the past few months. I would attribute this to nagging injuries to some of our key players, and also the fact that a lot of our stars are now three years older, so they are not as fit.

I would also attribute our bad performance recently too lack of motivation for some of the senior players. The absence of Jayasuriya and Muralitharan are also problem areas.

Sri Lanka's 1996 Cup win owed much to the strategy of going flat out in the first fifteen overs. Is that ploy valid this time, for English conditions?

The last World Cup was held in the sub-continent, where that gameplan worked, it was a huge success. But yes, it is no secret that this time, we have to rework our strategy, and we are doing that. Of course, I can't disclose our thinking at this stage, but we do have things chalked out, we have a definite gameplan in mind.

In England, no team will be looking at scores like 280-300. I reckon 225-235 will be a winning total. There, the ball moves around a lot, so it will be crucial for batting sides to last out the full 50 overs.

At this point in time, what would you identify as your team's main area of concern?

Our bowling. I think that is where we have our biggest problem. But we do have Vaas, Wickremasinghe and Muralitharan -- when fully fit, Murali will be our main bowler.

Plus we have batting all-rounders in Jayasuriya and Aravinda.

You mean you can think of going with only three front-line bowlers?

Jayasuriya and Aravinda have been bowling regularly for us, with considerable success.

Even in England, where the spinners will find it difficult to grip the ball?

Aravinda is a smart guy, he will definitely be valuable with his bowling irrespective of conditions and as for Jayasuriya, he bowls seam-up whenever required, especially towards the end ofthe innings, and this will be very helpful for us. You have to remember they did pretty well in the tri-nation series held in England last year.

That was in late August, whereas this time, you are going to be playing in early May...?

One thing you can't be sure about is the English weather. Even last time round, England did not have a perfect summer, I remember in that tri-series, the game against South Africa, we played it in very cold conditions. I guess it is just a matter of making adjustments, acclimatising ourselves. We are going there two weeks in advance, that should give us enough time to adjust.

Jayasuriya and Muralitharan, both coming back from injuries, seem to be short of match practise, is this a worry?

Sanath JayasuriyaThe injuries to Jayasuriya and Muralitharan were minor, not serious injuries. We are playing six practise games there in England, so both those players have the chance to get back to match fitness, to get back to the top of their game.

The Lankan fielding was a key to the 1996 win -- what has gone wrong in that department, do you think? It is surprising to see so many catches going down...

That's true, but one of the reasons for that is that the team now has some new players, and you know how nerves can play a part. Also, too much cricket has been played lately, and that has led to a certain lethargy in the team. You see, we played 3 Tests in about 19 days in the Asia Cup, and that kind of schedule is going to impact on the team performance. But it is true that our standards are slipping, we need to get our act together and bring back the fielding standards of the past. No team can win unless good fielding backs their bowling.

Kumara Dharmasena is another key component of your one day side, what is the status with him?

I think he is okay now, he has come back from England, and the officials there seemed quite happy with his action. I am not sure how quickly he will come back to the team, that is a matter for the board to decide on.

Sri Lanka had started a programme aimed at making it the best Test-playing nation by the year 2000. How far have you come towards that goal?

It was in 1995 that the Lankan board announced that goal. I don't think we have achieved it completely, but I think we are on the right track now. No one appears to have noticed, but we did win the last three Test series we played in. We won against New Zealand, then we beat England in England.

And remember we did very well in the Asia Cup as well, keeping in mind the fact that we were without our star players. Yes, the finals of the ATC was pretty disappointing but then we discovered the calibre of our younger players.

Do you think the Lankan team misses the services of a foreign coach? Did the departure of Whatmore and Yardley have anything to do with the slump in form of the Lankans?

I don't think that is such a valid argument, though I would not want to take away from the two coaches the credit they deserve. See, there is no harm in having foreign expertise as long as they provide value for money. They are doing us no favours, since they are paid for their services.

What was the reason that Sri Lanka opted for a foreign coach? The problem was that at that period, the BCCSL could not find any players who were willing to take up the assignment. You see, the players here are all well settled and doing well in their respective businesses. So it was difficult for the board to induce anyone to take up the job. But now, the right people are coming forward and offering their services, and they are doing a good job, so the same situation doesn't apply.

You will notice that we still make use of the services of Alex Kontouri, the team physiotherapist. He is a very valuable member of the team and is good value for money.

What are your suggestions for the development of the game in Sri Lanka?

There is a lot of developmental work being done in Sri Lanka at present. What I feel is that work on the short-term objectives should be accelerated. The reflection of this acceleration will show on the team's performance as well as on the bench strength of the team. I think a national academy is the need of the hour. There are mini-academies all over the country, in all our schools, we need a central one to coordinate.

I also would advocate running national squads at all junior levels. Under 15, U-17, U-19 and also a Sri Lanka 'A' squad, each under experienced coaches. I believe any academy is as good as the people running it. They have to have the right kind of attitude, which is primary to the game. They must have an understanding of the players and the game in depth.

While on that, who would you name as the stars of the future? Mahela Jaywardene

Mahela Jaywardene is a definite find for the future. Russell Arnold, Avishka Gunawardene and Rucheira Pereira are finds of the season, and I think they will serve Lankan cricket well in the near future.

Has the Lankan media been supportive during the team's slump?

Actually, no. This is the problem with the media in the sub-continent. They have a very negative approach to the teams. Look at the Australian and South African media, they know how to project their teams. Australia lost in India and the media played it down. South Africans lost in India and the media chose to ignore it. If the game has to be made more popular here, the media has to play a very important part. It has to back the team. We in the sub-continent don't know how to market the game well.

Aravinda D'SilvaLook, some of the senior players lose their motivation because they have seen it all, they just seem to be going for personal records now. Take for example the case of Aravinda D'Silva, he has just lost motivation. The media needs to play their part here, in firing him up again. The way Azhar has been put under pressure by the media for instance is very unfortunate, does anyone realize how insecure Azhar must be feeling right now? The media needs to back him at this point. Look how the media back Hansie when he was not doing well with the bat.

Anyone who considers that the teams don't try hard enough has not played any level of cricket. You think the guys don't try when they are out there on the field? See, this is what I mean by negative approach of the media, when they write such things.

Who do you think are the favorites this time?

Sri Lanka have a good chance of defending its title successfully. I also think Pakistan and England are good bets. But I reckon Zimbabwe will be the dark horses of the tournament.

kadalay said...

Anonymous said...

Most people (and others like E. T. and such clueless individuals) could replace Ranjit Fernando. What is with his most-unSri-Lankan pronunciation of 'Tharanga' as 'TharangaR'anyway? Laying it a bit thick that is...