Finding the Fault - Sri Lanka Cricket

May 5, 2006
Finding the Fault - Sri Lanka Cricket

''Better late than never''

Sri Lanka Cricket is in a slump. This is a huge understatement.

It is only 35 years since Sri Lanka gained Test status. Sri Lanka went on to win a world cup 14 years later. Since then they have qualified for 5 Global Tournament Finals and won one of them in 2014, that was only 3 years ago. Sadly, it has been a downfall since then. Sri Lanka have been beaten over and over again, with just a few consolation wins thanks to some outstanding individual performances.

It is fair if you say retirements of Sangakkara, Mahela and Dilshan or consistent injuries to Malinga did not help the cause. Yet it is the way cricket goes. Players come and go, cricket will keep going. It is not something you should be surprised of; it is something you should be ready for when the time comes.

However, Sangakkara and Mahela stayed until 2015 WC. Sangakkara played one Test series even after the World Cup. Dilshan played for a bit longer after Sangakkara retired in shorter formats. Can we blame them or use them as an excuse for something started to fall off towards the end of 2014? At least 1 Year before any of them actually retired?

This downward trend started after a successful England tour in the same year where Sri Lanka had won World T20. Graham Ford in his first stint as coach left the country few months earlier. Assistant coach Paul Farbrace was rudely taken back by England management just before the start of that England tour. SLC appointed Marvan Attapattu as the interim coach and then appointed him as the full time coach later, and apparently this did not go well with Sanath Jayasuriya (selector in his first term) who resigned from the selection committee which had chosen the coach. This happened during the dark era of Nishantha Ranathunga.

Somehow we went on to win the England tour on the back of performances by pace bowlers, captain Mathews and Sangakkara. We won all three formats so comprehensively and humiliated England in their own backyard. We had young players performing, players who looked like they could be our future at that stage having won a world T20, Asia cup and full England tour all inside 6 months. Sri Lanka looked like a serious contender for the World Cup which was less than a year away.

However, the things would change quickly. One year after that win, in Australia, Sri Lanka would become the first team to lose to South Africa in a WC knockout, having to exit the tournament in quarter final stage. Although it looked bright for Sri Lanka a year ago, this was inevitable to most of the Sri Lankan fans by the start of the tournament because quite a few changes had happened in that period. Our batting apart from the three senior batsmen had come down dramatically. Fielding and bowling had gone downhill too. Fast bowlers started to get injured way more frequently. Another very noticeable change happened in team combination. Sri Lanka repeatedly started fielding XI’s including too many batsmen/all-rounders and not enough specialist bowlers. Rarely did we play 4 specialist bowlers since that 2014 England tour. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, all these changes became trends over the next few years, some bad trends at that. If you look closely at the timeline, this was not after the three senior men retired. How fair is it to use them as an excuse?

Other than big player retirements, a couple of new coaches were appointed and also some of them were made to leave like in Ford's case. Chaminda Vass and Champaka Ramanayaka, fast bowling coaches being swapped in, out and in. Jonty Rohdes came for two weeks, Wasim Akram came, Alan Donald came. They also left. Now Rumesh Rathnayaka has been appointed with six others as Fast bowling coaches. Hashan Thilakaratne was made the batting coach. Nic Pothas who was brought in as fielding coach was left to work with the U19 team until recently. Then he was brought into the national side when they completely lost it and now they have made him the head coach. Has anything changed? No.

Also the captain back in 2014, captain back in last year this time, August, whom under we whitewashed Australia at home for the first ever time in our Test history was harshly criticized for his injuries and not being able to bowl, and was made to quit. SLC appointed a new captain for Test cricket, a batsman who was sent to play club cricket only a few months ago because of his lack of runs/skills/ability (I am not sure why) by the same bunch of selectors. They appointed an ODI captain who hasn’t even established his own position in the ODI team, which is a completely new role for him at no. 4. The Test captain is not even in the ODI side anymore, while the ODI captain is just hanging on to the Test spot mainly due to reputation rather than performances. Has anything changed? No.

You may think SLC has already done every possible change they could do to make things right. No, they did not stop there. They brought in Simon Willis for some mystery role which was first described as something similar to a Director of cricket position, which is apparently fulfilled by Asanka Gurusinha now, SLC's next import. They decided that Asanka's presence would be more valuable, that they asked Ford, the head coach at the time, to leave if he was not in good deed with having to report to someone who had no involvement in international cricket for the last two decades. Has anything changed? No.

At the end of the day, current SLC administration have changed Head Coaches, Batting Coaches, Bowling Coaches and Trainers. They created new positions for Wills and Gurusinha. They changed captains. And also let 40 Odd cricketers try-out international cricket within an year. What else is left to do? Pretty much nothing.

Yes, maybe they have done every possible move and yet it did not work out. What does that mean? May be current administration has done everything they can, everything they could imagine and yet they were unable to change the fortunes of SL cricket. Maybe it’s time they understand that they do not possess the wisdom required and they are not capable of changing the path Sri Lanka cricket is heading and leave for the sake of the cricket in this beautiful unique country.

I just hope they will do it at least now, because they should have done it a long time ago, before changing all these coaches and captains. Way before creating new positions and bringing in new people for those positions. Enough harm is done already. But as the old saying goes ''Better late than never''.

- #CA Praveen
- Special Thanks to ''Bada'' From Forum.

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