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Thilan a middle order batsman of intrinsic value

It's hard to reconcile oneself to the fact that the dogged, Thilan Samaraweera, ever so stubborn in his approach when it comes to batting at the crease - wasn't a few years ago allowed to enjoy continuity in the Sri Lanka team, for the flimsy reason that he lacked form.

If we do go back in time, most, if not all of us know, that Thilan was a fine product of Ananda College, as a dour meticulous batsman and a wily off spinner, who eventually went onto to captain the side. He progressed in the same vein for his club, the SSC and did lead the side here as well.

Cast in the same mould of Asanka Gurusinghe, who made his exit from Sri Lanka cricket sometime ago - Thilan the obdurate with his sedate batting made the right kind of impression to be selected to represent Sri Lanka.

Crucial moments

He proved to be an orthodox, technically sound batsman and a useful spinner whose services in the middle order was more than adequate, where no side could illafford to miss a cricketer of his calibre especially at crucial moments.

The mild mannered, unassuming, Thilan, on the field of play was never involved in any form of controversy or altercation with opposing players and all things taken together it was ludicrous to find that he was dropped from the Sri Lanka team for reasons best known to those in authority, which was indeed a pity.

Allrounders

We say this in the light of the odd one or two so-called less competent allrounders, who despite their poor showing were tolerated upon for a considerable period of time, as mere passengers to finally make their exit from the team.

Thilan Samaraweera, on being recalled to the side, grabbed the opportunity with a vengeance to be a prolific scorer against England, Pakistan and New Zealand. He within this year has scored 4 centuries and 1000 runs in Test cricket and registered his 11th Test hundred quite a good going to celebrate his recall. Thilan has made runs both when the side was doing well and more importantly when the side was doing badly, to be the anchor man to earn the sobriquet 'the Rock'.

We would do well therefore, not so much to dwell on his contributions made when the side had made bid scores but rather to elaborate on his batting when he has seen the side through a crisis.

There have been quite a few occasions, when Thilan as a middle order batsman had to contend with an embarrassingly dismal situation, where the first five front line batsmen had been dismissed for a paltry score.

In such object times, it's interesting to note the strategy employed by Thilan to slowly but surely get on top of the sorry state the side was in.

The characteristic feature of Thilan batting in tense situations like this is to stay unruffled to keep his cool. Not so much to make runs at the outset, but to have his feet firmly planted to the crease and size things up.

Bouncers

The battle is on with the bowlers striving hard to dislodge Thilan and dismiss the remaining batsmen early - whilst Thilan meets every ball in the middle of his very straight bat, to stout heartedly protect his wicket, as if though his very life depended on it and perhaps to mutter within himself, only over my dead body, for many were the bouncers he deftly ducked away from more often than not, it turns out to be a wearing of and tiring out ordeal between the bowlers and Thilan - which he invariably wins through. Having begun to frustrate the bowlers through sheer concentration and application, he now begins to score in singles and the odd twos.

Though not a flamboyant spectacular batsman, he having had a good measure of the bowling and grappled with it successfully with much subdued patience now starts leaving the crease to elegantly drive through the covers or extra cover, to hit past the ropes and light it over to make a good score and put his side on the offensive. Undoubtedly, Thilan is a middle order batsman of intrinsic value and should be playing to make the runs for his side.

 

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