If Sri Lanka cricket is a food restaurant, we are loosing out big time because the shops on the opposite side of the street are offering some new taste but we don't. The big shots used their power and marketing to popularize this taste, so now people expect that taste from whatever food.
It's no secret that people have the instinct of enjoying bloodshed as a group event. From the days of gladiators to modern wrestling we chase that sensation. T20 introduced that sensation into cricket, the raw power of athletes to hit 100 meters plus sixes, and stump breaking yorkers. That is what people ask for, so unless we offer that with our menu nobody is going to turn into Sri Lankan cricket any more. No, I don't mean that we should have 11 power players in our team but we need a good balance, same as a restaurant should not give up their authentic special recipe.
Sadly, our own cricket experts were boasting about being the ICC rank No 1 team, and the 2014 World cup glory. Nobody saw this coming and now we are running out of business. Yes, we were successful in T20, but only because we had a decent bowling line up with inform Malinga,Kule alongside Herath and a pre-modelled Sachithra.No matter Sanga and Mahela were in or out, we almost always won because of our skillful bowling. If not for Hera's 5 for 3 spell, rain god, and exceptional last 4 overs against during Final, I don't think we could have won any silverware last time.
In my opinion, our think tanks should have seen this happening around 2006. But unfortunately we did not. We kept on playing the same game, we did not change the domestic cricket structure. Why was that? I think, our domestic structure is the one of the worst paid competitions among top tier nations. Restructuring domestic competition should have been done after mid 90s, along side changing the school cricket as well.
I saw even Murali and Sanga proposed a provincial club cricket structure with introducing local players into their provincial team. This could become a success if we can get public behind their provincial team as it is with Kandy Rugby club and Kandy people. However there is a serious problem with implementing such a club cricket tournament because, apart from in Colombo I don't see public go to see these local cricket matches. Even for international matches, only Premadasa gets a full house. So provincial cricket will have to be played in Colombo making it again more like the current club structure. So I really don't see a restructured club cricket would make any significant difference. Provincial club cricket can become a success, if we have a decentralized economy, however that is not the case.
I think, school cricket is what we need to fix. A decent sports scholarship program along side talent search and a desk and chair from reputed a Colombo school for could encourage both parents and school cricketers. One of the main reasons behind successful 1996 team was that the core of that team played cricket together since they were very young because they all were in Colombo. This is the one big advantage we have that other big countries do not have, and why we perform better in big tournaments. Even if we introduce cricket academies again all these would be only successful as long as they are in Colombo or proximity.
By any means I'm not saying we should only let Colombo English speaking boys to the national team. In fact I'm eagerly waiting for the first Jaffna born and bread Tami speaking cricketer, that could bring trust to the Sri Lankan nation and could heal lot of wounds, however that does not mean he has to finish his cricket education at his home town.
I think, we need to bring our ingredients to the restaurant, cook it there and serve, may be that is our unique taste.
Please share your thoughts. But please lets not single out players and blame.
How many of you saw the post match interview by Mathews after West Indies match ? If you could not please spend a minute and have a look at it: https://www.islandcricket.lk/videos/sri-lanka/cricket/mathews-talks-to-reporters-after-sri-lankas-loss-to-west-indies-at-the-wt20
Do we have a professional sports psychologist?