It has been 31 years since sri lanka gained test playing status during this period sri lanka have done exceptionally well in limited overs cricket even overshadowing some of the well established countries such as england and south africa.Through this period of great limited overs achievements sri lanka have forgotten a important fact,which is they are a mediocre test team outside the country.There are only a handful of test victories overseas in the history of our test cricket. The first test victory overseas was against new Zealand in 1995 where Chaminda Vaas announced himself to the cricket world.2-1 victory against Pakistan in the same year. Probably the best known victory was in England in 1998 where murali took 16 wickets in a one off test. In 2004 test series against Pakistan was all square 1-1.In 2006 we beat new Zealand in wellington. Most recent victory was against south Africa at Durban in a 2-1 series loss. There have been series wins against Bangladesh which is inconsequential to the bigger picture, so there have been only 7 victories overseas against top opponents in the last three decades.
With the great murali in our team an impartial observer would expect sri lanka to have had more test victories overseas. The reason is fairly obvious the fast bowling resources have never been up to international standards. Throughout the years sri lanka have had only one world class test fast bowler chaminda vaas. After chaminda vaas retired the quality of fast bowling talent in test matches have been very poor. When playing in overseas conditions it is imperative for a fast bowler to either have pace or movement, when both of these features combine you have a world class operator like dale steyn. Here in sri lanka I think we are resigned to the fact that we’ll never have a speedster who consistantly bowl around 145kmph.But the ability to swing and seam the ball is not impossible in sri lanka the conditions lend itself to this kind of bowling .It pains me to see the visiting new Zealand quicks out bowl the lankan bowlers in our backyard, they got the bowl to move around putting the lankan batsmen under pressure.
Questions have to be raised about the coaching of the fast bowlers are we only focused on improving the skills of the fast bowlers to suit limited overs cricket. Are we looking for speedsters rather than looking to take the best advantages of the resources we have .The bowlers we currently have struggle to move the ball on any type of pitch condition this problem is highlighted when we travel abroad recent tours to England and South Africa was a real eye opener. Are we taking the best advantage of the current technological advances in coaching of fast bowlers are the fast bowlers being updated on developments in fast bowling especially in the area of physical fitness. Are we channeling the resources we have in a productive manner. These are the questions the current coaches should be asking themselves.What is evident is that the current fast bowling setup is not producing the results that meet the standards of international cricket.
With the rise of young spinners in the country sri lanka needs to focus on improving the quality of the countries fast bowlers in order to become a major test playing nation. If changes are not made sri lanka will continue with this mediocre state for the foreseeable future.