Every technical expert has a secret up his or her sleeve when it comes to getting the job done. Mechanics, engineers, plumbers etc all know certain tricks that help them to solve most issues you and I can encounter.
Cricket groundsmen are not that different either. They know a thing or two about how to maintain the square, outfield and pitch. Whenever there is excess rain or heat, experienced caretakers know what to do to get the ground ready to host a match. Using charcoal on plates to dry wet pitches, boundary ropes to soak up dew are all part of their arsenal.
But the groundsmen at the R Premamadasa Stadium in Colombo might have come up with the most bizzare, and frankly unsettling, tactic.
Crows are a menace in the Sri Lankan capital and they are known to harass passers-by. So in order to keep the pesky birds away, the groundsmen in Colombo reportedly placed a dead crow next to the playing area to ensure the surrounding remains clear before the fifth and final ODI against South Africa. We must say, it’s the one of the most disturbing things we have seen on a cricket field.
Angelo Mathews hit 97, accompanied by by Niroshan Dickwella’s 43, and Akila Dananjaya took six wickets as the hosts made 299 for eight off their 50 overs.
It left South Africa facing the biggest run chase ever required by a visiting team to the Colombo ground. They could not manage it and were all out for 121 in less than 25 overs.
Captain Quinton de Kock made a half century (54) but other wickets fell regularly as Dananjaya (six for 29) had the visitors in all sorts of trouble with his spin bowling.
Despite the heavy defeat, South Africa won the five-match series 3-2.
“Akila knows what he’s doing with the ball. It’s hard to take on someone like this when he has so many variations up his sleeve,” said South African skipper Quinton de Kock.
“We have batted well against him in this series, but today he bowled really well.”
Sri Lanka skipper Mathews said the team should have come up with such a performance earlier in the series.
“This was a performance we were looking for but it came in the last match. If we had been like that in the first three games things could have been a lot different,” said Mathews.
Sri Lanka all-rounder and on-and-off captain Angelo Mathews is one of the finest batsmen in the team in the moment. His long-standing fitness issues have forced him to go from a genuine all-rounder in all formats to a middle order batsman.
He has more than 5,000 runs in both Tests and ODIs. In fact, he recently played his 200th ODI for the island nation and has 10 international tons under his belt. But one record that has still eluded him is an ODI ton in front of his home crowd.
In 201 ODIs, Mathews has two centuries and 37 fifties, which is a very low conversion rate. Both ODI tons are in India.
However, his latest fifty gave Mathews an opportunity to finally reach three figures in an ODI at home as he remained unbeaten on 97 in the fifth and final ODI against South Africa on Sunday.
Captain's knock of 97* by #CaptainMarvellous Angelo Mathews, hammered the straight drives and played the Mathews' special commanding front foot pulls. Batted @Angelo69Mathews. #MajesticMathews #SLvSA #LKA— Daniel Alexander (@daniel86cricket) August 12, 2018
Mathews took 97 balls for his knock as Sri Lanka made 299-8 in Colombo. The 31-year-old hit one six and 11 fours during his innings.
However, at least Mathews has ODI tons under his belt.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq retired from the game without a single three figure score in ODIs. In 162 matches, Misbah scored fifty on 42 occasions for more than 5,000 runs but never reached three digits.