Has been phenomenal so far. For a year Sri Lanka were without the services of the eyebrow pierced, funky hairdo one. And were worse for it in a big big way.

Since his return in Feb of 2009 he has been playing plenty of 2020 cricket, in fact its the only format he has been playing since he his comeback against India in Colombo. I guess what they say about practice making things perfect is true cuz Malinga has 2020 bowling down to an art.

It mostly consists of yorkers, with a sprinkling of low full tosses followed by more yorkers. And its finished off with of course the yorkers.  In international 2020s this year he has picked up 10 wickets at 15. In the IPL he managed 18 wickets at 17.

While these wicket numbers are not remarkable, in the context of 2020 cricket and in this year, Malinga has been fucking lethal.

Before the selectors decided to drop Malinga due to injuries, he was a ghost of his former self. His pace had dropped, his X factor had diminished. He averaged 30 in ODIs in 2008, compared to his career 25. But those are just stats, Malinga just was not the threat he was in 2007. Something changed. There were rumours that some people had asked him to straighten his arm more to ensure his longevity in the game.

If someone did tell him that, then we would like to extend a heartfelt, fuckyouverymuch, from all of us here at theflyslip.

Whatever it was, it was on top of an ankle/knee injury, and the selectors showed a lot of vision to get him out of the side and get him back to full fitness. He could have been Sri Lanka’s Flintoff or Simon Jones. Instead he is cranking  up the heat on international batsmen after a years full rest.

And its not just his comeback wickets that inspire. His pace, his control is immaculate at this point. With Vass fading on the horizon, SL needed a man they could depend on. Someone Sangakkara could turn to. A year ago many would have doubted Malinga would be that man.

With him in the the bowling line up, SL is guaranteed a balanced attack.

Sangakkara can throw him the white ball and he is bound to get an over of yorkers. Slinga himself seems to have matured. Gone are the wild celebrations, although we wish he would pull those out once in a while. And the hair is understated by his standards. But he is a better bowler so I’ll take that any day.

The key will be when SL return to test cricket. With a ball that swings less, it would be interesting to see how Malinga copes in a format where you cant really rely on yorkers all the time for success. When you don’t have to be going at 10 rpo, its an easier task to dig out the yorker and prop over for a single.

It is a test Malinga is hopefully relishing.

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Following on from your comeback theme, we bring back a much loved segment of our blog. ‘The most likely to loose their balls’.

We know all you bastards out there have been craving to find out who will indeed be left, testicularly-compromised, so we give you the run down of the SL team. A team dear to my heart and balls.

3. Jayasuriya

It pains us to put the great man on this list. unfortunately, Sanath has not been himself of late. In a format you’d think was tailor made for him, he has struggled. Perhaps, ironically, the short format is taking a bigger toll on his wrinkly body than the other forms of the game.

Why? He struggles against the moving ball and in SA and in the IPL this was all too clear to see. He looked consistently troubled in the warm ups and unusually sedate.

Verdict?
We are hoping sanath proves us wrong. Cuz when he does its in a blaze of orgasmic 6s and 4s. But the signs are not good and we expect him to loose 1/2  a ball.

Leaving him with a peculiar 1 and half nuts.

2.Chamara Silva


Remember him from 2006, wiping the Australians to all parts in their own backyard ?No ? Well that might be because it was around 3 years ago and he has been out of the team for a while.

From the evidence of the SA game, it looks like he didn’t spend that time doing much learning. His flaw has always been outside the off stump, in picking which one to hit and which one to let go. Most often he believes they can all be hit to the boundary. The law of averages suggests that this type of thinking can work – if you are Virender Sehwag.

Why?

The conditions and the pressure on Silva, might be too hot for him to handle. Coming back into the side, its his chance to prove a point or be cast into the wilderness again.

Verdict?
We will say 1 nut less. But we reserve the right to dislodge a further half nut.

1. ‘Calamity’ Jehan Mubarak

Why?
Mubarak has sidestepped a few rising stars in the domestic set up in sri lanka. and in the process tripped over himself many a time. whether it involved running himself out, like he did against South Africa, or dobbing a catch to short third man, like he did against Bangladesh, trouble seems to follow Jehan like a shadow.

‘Calamity’ Jehan, we dont believe, posses the technique required to do well in England against two attacks (Aus 7 WI) that is bound to get him in a tangle.

The most interesting factor about his batting will be how he gets out.

Verdict?
Balless

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Nina Simone sang ‘Its a dawn, its a new day, its a new life for me’. And although Sri Lankas cricket being taken over by the enigmatic Kumar Sangakkara might not be as dramatic, it certainly ushers in a new era for our cricket.

The King, as he is so affectionately known, is a realist. And in a world of cricketing bullies who masquerade as gentleman, Kumar is a throwback to the days when smart, charismatic intellects separated cricketers from the hordes of other sportsmen.

He certainly would not be out of place in a cravat and long tails in a Jane Eyre setting. And England, as it happens, is where he will finally get to take over the national team for his first assignment, in a form he champions.

The team he leads is one of the youngest Sri Lanka has sent to a competition. Apart from the veterans, the average age of 9 of the 15 man squad is around 24. In terms of 2020 experience the Sri Lankans are well behind teams like India or Australia. Add to this the fact that a couple of the players have not even had a wiff of international cricket, let alone 2020 internationals.

These are the problems Kumar has to over come if he is to oversee Sri Lanka  out of the ‘group of death’. Pitted against the current ODI world champions and the potentially lethal West Indians, on their day, Sri Lanka has one of the toughest asks  if they are to get past the first 5 days of the competition.

To do so, he must rely on a largely in experienced bowling attack. There will be no Chaminda Vass to fall back on, and in his place is who everyone deems is his future replacement – Isuru Udana. The young prodigy who was the domestic 2020 competitions Man of the series has a lot to live up to. This will be his first international stint and hopefully he gets a game to show us what he has got.

Murali will of course add depth along with Slinga Malinga, but the rest of the attack is new and Ajantha ‘Splendid’ Mendis will have a thing or two to prove given his recent form slump.

But the most interesting factor will be how Sangakkara leads. He is often quoted as wanting to allow his team members to individually express themselves. That would work fine with a well oriented team who knows their roles and has enough experience to know what is expected of them.

Kumar does not have this luxury. He has hardly had any time with the team to impart how he wants to run things. Between evacuating Pakistan, playing in a domestic 2020 competition and the IPL Sangakkara has barely had time to work with his young team.

And on the flip side, the veterans as well as the youngster are flying blind as to what Kumar wants them to do.And how he wants it done.

Captaincy was not something Sangakkara was expecting either. Having been second in command to Mahela Jayawardene for so long, no one really thought Kumar would get the opportunity to play the lead man till Mahela retired or quit the game. With both of them being roughly the same age, it may have boiled down to them retiring at the same time.

And although in the end Mahelas resignation was not a surprise, the timing was. It caught a lot of people off guard, not least Sangakkara himself.

So its been a few turbulent months for Sangakkara. But knowing him, he would consider this to be his biggest test yet.

Captain for the first time. A world cup. The shortest and the most hectic format. And stuck between Australia and the West Indies. It seems right up Kumar’s alley.

And for someone who is not opposed to singing out in the middle, it would hardly be a surprise if you catch him on the stump mic ending with

‘And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me’

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This is undoubtedly the single biggest event in any Sri Lankans life. The WC win was something special. It brought the divided Island together for a brief period of time. But today we are no longer divided. At least not geographically.

Of course the government could have easily arranged a cricket match and a beer afterwards to sort out everyones ‘ differences. Instead we chose a 30 plus year old civil war.

A lot of people died. A lot of people are dying or suffering. But from today they wont be caught in the cross fire.

The last bullets been fired.

The last cyanide capsules been swallowed.

I have never walked or driven on the streets of Colombo without wandering if I might one day be at the wrong end of a suicide bomb. When I go home again, that fear will be redundant

We lost our way for decades so I hope we don’t fuck up this chance we have been given to get back on track. Maybe another 500 years from now those 30 will just be a blip on a grander scale. But for now its time to ease up on our chairs and dream about Sri Lanka, for the first time, meaning more than 2/3 of the country.

When the British finally decided to move on, they left the country with a set of problems that exploded in 1983. So when we gained ‘independence’ 1948 it wasn’t true in the true sense of the word. So today is when we celebrate true independence and enjoy the ideology of ‘one state’.

From a cricketing perspective, this can only be a good thing. Of all those thousands of kids who made it out alive there might be one or two who have the special gift for the game this Island loves so much. If they can out live the worlds deadliest terrorist organisation a test match should be easier than what Phil Huges makes it out to be.

Who knows if Jaffna will unearth the next Murali or Sanath. Whether he turns out to be Tamil or Sinhalese – he will finally be 100% Sri Lankan.

And that is worth more than any silverware.

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