June 18, 2009 / 5:01 AM / 9 years ago

Cricket-Sri Lanka at forefront of Twenty20 innovations

NOTTINGHAM, England, June 18 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka, one of the four teams remaining in the Twenty20 World Cup, have been at the forefront of the revolutionary innovations in cricket’s shortest format.

Former captain Mahela Jayawardene played the first recorded reverse sweep off the back of his bat on Tuesday and team mate Tillekeratne Dilshan has invented the scoop over the batsman’s head.

Fast bowler Lasith Malinga has employed a slow full toss among a number of variations.

“I think it’s imperative that you do encourage that (innovations),” South Africa coach Mickey Arthur told reporters on Wednesday. “I had a discussion with Herschelle (Gibbs) this week and he’s trying to play two more shots which he hasn’t unveiled yet.

“Herschelle always wants to set himself apart from the pack. He’s working furiously on different shots. He doesn’t like being upstaged by the `Dilshan’ — he wants to get the `Gibbs’ out there. Maybe he’ll save it for Lord’s!”

South Africa meet Pakistan at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Thursday (1630) followed by Sri Lanka against West Indies at the Oval on Friday (1630). The final will be staged at Lord’s on Sunday (1300).

The tournament has even attracted comment from the game’s lawmakers, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) after some extraordinary acrobatics from Sri Lanka fielder Angelo Mathews against West Indies.

Mathews caught the ball inside the ropes before, realising his momentum would take him over the boundary, he hurled the ball into the air. His foot then went over the ropes and, seeing the ball was about to land for a six, Mathews leaped and hit it back on to the field.

His actions was referred by the on-field umpires to third umpire Ian Gould who ruled that only the three runs taken should be awarded. The MCC agreed.

“The MCC laws sub-committee had recently discussed fielding such as this and felt that such brilliant and quick-thinking acts should not be outlawed,” MCC assistant secretary John Stepehenson said.

“Occurrences such as this, while extremely rare, are good for the game of cricket as a whole.”

Jayawardene explained that he had practised his reverse sweep for some time and that it was important that players’ skills continued to evolve.

“We have realised as a team that to compete at this level and to improve you always have to start doing different things,” Jayawardene said. “Sri Lanka is all about cricket, everyone picks up a bat and a ball and tries to do different things.

“You just have to keep the bowlers guessing and thinking all of the time. These days a lot of people try and analyse you and find different things out so what I am trying to do is stay one step ahead.”

Editing by John Mehaffey; to query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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