Lack of preparation could haunt Sri Lanka 



 The decline in the standard of Sri Lanka Cricket could be attributed to those square pegs in round holes at the helm at SLC. The reasons for it is that these elements bend their backs to those that wield power in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). As a result, the IPL calls the shots, much to the detriment of Sri Lankan cricket.

The damaging factor is that whenever there is a bilateral international series around April or May, the country’s cricketers seem determined to work to cancel or postpone that series.

Take the case of Sri Lanka’s tour of England in 2011, where the members of the national cricket team arrived at the eleventh hour, straight from the IPL. They were deprived of sufficient time to adopt to the conditions in England. What was worse was that several players opted to skip a warm-up game as well and the end result was utter humiliation in Cardiff in the first Test, where they were blown away for 82 runs in the second innings.

The current Sri Lanka cricket team finds itself in similar circumstances on the eve of the ICC Champions Trophy, which gets underway next week in Wales.

Of the 15 member squad that flew to England on May 26, nine players had not played in the SLC conducted triangular tournament at Pallekele.

What a comedy of errors! SLC’s hierarchy, who made a request to the BCCI to send their players back early to take part in the triangular tournament were in for a huge embarssment as the BCCI didn’t even respond to the letter.

Sri Lanka’s top batsmen, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tilekeratne Dilshan had a torrid run in the IPL and clearly they have gone to England without any momentum.

The irony is that these batters have been starved of match practice, a vital ingredient if a batsman is to be successful out in the middle. Mahela, who captained the Delhi Daredevils, failed miserably. Sanga has not played a game for his franchise in three weeks, while Dilshan was sidelined for a month. What a chaotic situation.

The world class batsmen who held center stage in Sri Lankan cricket find themselves groping in the dark. The silver lining is that they have an opportunity to regain their lost form when they play the warm-up games.

Let’s hope they get their act together in these warm-up matches, prior to the start of the Champions Trophy.

The question is how will Sri Lanka’s top order batsmen cope with the Kiwi pace quartet of Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Doug Bracewell and Tim Southee, who rattled the English batsmen during the recent Test series.

The Sri Lankan batters will also have to face England’s pace attack, spearheaded by the world’s number one pace bowler James Anderson. Into the bargain, Stuart Board is also in good form, having taken seven for 44 in an innings in the recent Test series.

These fast bowlers will be Sri Lanka’s nightmare. Let’s hope that Mathews’ hope that the senior batsmen will fire when the time comes becomes reality. It is however, a very tall order.

In the squad there are three young talented batsmen in vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal, the consistent Lahiru Thirimanne and the dashing Kusal Perera, who have proved their potential at the highest level.

The presence of all-rounders like Mathews, Thisara Perera and Jeevan Mendis further strengths Sri Lanka.

The bowling looks stable with the promising pace attack of Nuwan Kulasekera, the golden boy of the IPL, Lasith Malinga who has completed 100 wickets in the IPL and Shaminda Eranga. Mathews and Thisara add venom to the pace attack.

The spin department is spearheaded by Rangana Herath, who is Sri Lanka’s trump card. Jeevan Mendis is a crafty leg-spinner, while Sachithra Senanayake could be the surprise package. There is also Dilshan as a change bowler if the need arises. If the Sri Lankans click as a team, then winning the coveted trophy would be a reality.

Wishing young Angelo Mathews in his first major assignment as captain and his team all success at the last Champions Trophy Tournament.

Rex Wijewardene,


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