Island Cricket

Saturday, March 1, 2008

[Video] Guard of honour for Jayasuriya courtesy Team Australia

What a moment for Sanath Jayasuriya. It must be an incredible feeling to have opposition such as Australia honour you in such an unplanned manner. It was great sportsmanship from the Aussies. The Sri Lankans too returned the favour for Gilly who also bid farewell to the MCG.

Greeted with an honour guard by his opponents, Sanath Jayasuriya played his final innings on this continent. His footwork had been sluggish all summer. His reflexes had slowed. Determined to rouse himself for one final fling, the buccaneer clouted a couple of boundaries over cover that brought back memories of his halcyon days. In full flight he was quite a sight, bashing the ball about, dispatching presentable deliveries to unlikely places. Just for a moment it seemed that Jayasuriya might produce one last hurrah. It was not to be. Before long he was late on his shot, whereupon he trudged from the field looking about as happy as a News Corporation journalist. Where have the years gone?

Brad Hogg's retirement was unexpected. Speculation has been rife that he will sign for an Indian league. Perhaps he just wants to spend more time at home.

It has been an uneasy summer and players have responded in their own ways. The looming Pakistan tour has been the hidden factor in many of this summer's complications.

Hogg might not play in the finals. Maybe his chance came too late in his career. Although he did not take many wickets this season, he did bat splendidly in the Sydney Test match. But he stepped aside. Who knows the workings of another man's mind?

His family had come to watch his last stand. As usual, the earnest, energetic, slightly eccentric tweaker took a vital wicket. As always he served to the best of his ability.

After that it was just a matter of waiting for Gilchrist to play his last innings on a ground he has graced. Returning the compliment, the Lankans welcomed him. He promptly produced numerous thrilling drives and pulls that sent the score rushing along. Murali was mauled and the pacemen were dispatched with elan. He charged past 50 and kept playing brilliant strokes till the end came. He reached 83 in 50 balls and not a swipe was essayed. His bat was a flashing blade. It was a chivalrous, generous innings, as exhilarating to watch as it must have been to play.

A small crowd was given a rare treat, something to savour long after the final curtain has fallen. No tears need be shed for the gloveman. Rather let us celebrate a happy ending. Gilchrist is going on his own terms, and in style. Writes Peter Roebuck for The SMH.


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