Don’t expect consistency from your risk taking opening batsmen

Don’t pull out statistics to prove that your opening batsmen have not been consistent when you assigned those individuals a role fraught with risk?

When any batsman is sent up the order and asked to take on the new ball, asked to hit over the in-field when fielding restrictions are in place, the role of that batsman changes. One can’t expect these players perform on a consistent basis.

Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana were never consistent when they were promoted up the order.

In 1996, neither the management, nor the staff expected Kaluwitharana or Jayasuriya to average 50.00 while making back to back half centuries. The goal was to get the team off to a quick start and if they perished in the process, it will not be held against them.

The thinking process has changed 14 years down the road.

Today, fans and journalist want to know what’s up with Dilshan. "Has his purple patch ended," they ask.

After scrutinising Dilshan, one is then presented with Jayasuriya’s stats from his last 10 ODIs or his last 10 T20s, and reminded that he is now a thing of the past.

While that may well be the case, Jayasuriya has never been known for his consistency. Right throughout his career he has been a batsman who was asked to take risks against the new ball, and more often than not, it does not come off.

That’s precisely the reason why Mahela Jayawardene succeeded in some games and failed in others when he took on the role as opener in the ICC WT20, 2010.

Sri Lankan selectors, reporters and fans need to keep it together when things don’t go their way and understand that if you want a bloke to smash it around at the top of the order, then high expectations should not be set.

What is expected today from an opening batsmen in Sri Lanka’s limited overs side is unrealistic. Sri Lanka will struggle to find two openers who can hold on to the position for long enough with such expectations. The pressure on the openers to perform consistently to retain their place is also counter productive.

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