Will leg spinners ever have a future in Sri Lanka?
For a country that's known to produce good spinners, Sri Lanka is yet to field a world-class leg spinner. That's partly due to perhaps the impatience of Sri Lankan selectors, the fans and the media. A leg spinner needs time to develop at the highest level and that kind of opportunity has thus far never been presented.
After the 1996 World Cup, Sri Lankans expected their team to remain a dominant force but were unwilling to give young players a prolonged opportunity to prove themselves. A young leg spinner will need more time than a newbie batsman, a rookie off spinner or paceman.
Had Shane Warne played for Sri Lanka, it is unlikely his career would have gone the distance. After a few failures the selectors, who don't seem to be working according to any policy, would have more than likely given him the axe.
Of late, Jeevan Mendis and Seekuge Prasanna have made their way to the national squads. Neither have demonstrated that they can spin the ball much, which makes them less threatening. What that also means for them is, that they are unlikely to be regulars in the Sri Lankan side.
At the point of delivery, the leg spinner's bowling arm should be at a 45-degree angle in order to impart extra spin revolutions and spin the ball viciously across the right-handed batsman, according to Tony Grieg who once said this on commentary. But from what we've seen of Mendis and Prasanna, both appear to not know this or willing to try it.
That however highlights a bigger problem; who is coaching these two leg spinners at the national level and are the coaches willing to go back to basics with professional cricketers who have reached the national squad? Bizarrely, coaches these days are reluctant to mess with techniques once a player reaches the national squad - what are they there for then?
Perhaps if our cricket board was not bankrupt, we could invite spinners like Warne, Mushtaq Ahmed and other former greats to conduct coaching clinics. South Africa's Imran Tahir is currently in Pakistan with former Pakistani leg spinner Abdul Qadir preparing for the Proteas' tour of England in July.
But it is what it is - we have two new cricket stadiums, one named after our president in his hometown, which has cost us all dearly. The cricket board, with government 'yes men' running the show, can't afford to pay bills or offer contracts on par with other World Cup winners after the construction of these venues. The cricket board is still in huge debt. In this climate, I doubt investing in the future of our cricket and our cricketers is a top priority.
Not producing good leg spinners is perhaps the least of our worries, eh?