Whither Sri Lankan Cricket?


by Neil Perera

A loyal servant of Sri Lankan cricket, Chaminda Vaas is the best person to train fast bowlers.

The recent series of cricket matches played against the Australian cricket team poses a lot of questions to the cricket administrators as to where the national cricket team is heading and to what steps it should take to solve the present problems encountered by our team.

Whereas we should be proud of the fact that we were able to whitewash the Australians in the Test Series, we must squarely face the problems that were responsible for the virtual drubbing we received in the ODI and T20 series, and find solutions to them.

As a former administrator of the Cricket Board and Manager of several Sri Lankan cricket teams, I would venture to make a few suggestions that might help to improve the present situation.

SLC has the services of a large contingent of support staff, comprising coaches for batting, bowling. fielding etc. But taken as a whole, there appears to be a lacuna somewhere in the organization.

The bright spot in this seemingly despondent situation is that the young talent that is available is as good as anywhere in the other major cricket playing countries.

When Sanath Jayasuriya was selected as the Chairman of Selectors a few years ago for the first time, I sent him an e-mail (which he acknowledged with thanks) reminding him how he was sidelined earlier, but was selected as a permanent member of the team after he performed exceedingly well in the Sri Lanka ‘A’ Teams and Under-23 sides.

The series against Australia displayed the enormous talent we have, particularly in batting, although they did not perform regularly. Kusal Mendis was a new find with enormous talent but he must be carefully nurtured. Kusal Perera another highly talented batsman appears to have lost his way temporarily. Dananjaya de Silva, Sachith Pathirana, Dasun Shanaka, Seekkuge Prasanna, Milinda Siriwardena and several other talented cricketers were on show during this series.

Unfortunately many of the fast bowlers were not available due to injuries. Most of the aforementioned cricketers however showed their lack of experience in playing at the top level.

My recommendation to the SLC is that they obtain the services of former greats such as Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara to oversee the batting department and correct the obvious faults of these cricketers.

Right shot selection is an important factor and this can only be achieved by experience. I was happy to note that Chaminda Vaas has been invited to help the fast bowling department. I can remember when I was Manager of the team and Dav Whatmore was coach, it was Chaminda Vaas, (a player at the time) who was assisting the fast bowlers to a great extent.

I can still remember how he taught Dilhara Fernando to bowl the reverse swing.

There are about five or six talented fast bowlers who should come under Vass’ tutelage. At present Muttiah Muralitharan and Rangana Herath appear to be the best persons to take over the coaching of spin bowlers.

There is no doubt that the present local cricket tournament is not suitable to improve the talents of our cricketers. I would suggest that a tournament be held where four teams namely, Sri Lanka A team, Under 23 team, Under 19 team and another team is selected from among the left outs for a tournament to be conducted annually.

Another important matter that the SLC must attend to is increasing the number of Sri Lanka A team, Under-23 Team and Under 19 team engagements against top opponents. The potential we have at present is tremendous and I wish that SLC will make an all out effort to harness this potential to the best of their ability.

(This writer had served Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka for over 25 years including as the Honorary Secretary. He was Manager of the Sri Lankan cricket team on several instances including when Sri Lanka won their maiden Test overseas in 1995.)

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...