After a long time Sri Lankan cricket fans enjoyed a decent performance by the national team against a much hyped Australian team who were clueless against spin bowling. Set aside the achievements of the test series lest talk about the one day tournament that followed.
Before that lets observe the current showing of srilankan team on home one day series starting form the south African tour.
South Africa in Sri Lanka ODI Series 2014 South Africa 2-1 (3)
Pakistan in Sri Lanka ODI Series 2014 Sri Lanka 2-1 (3)
England in Sri Lanka ODI Series 2014/15 Sri Lanka 5-2 (7)
Pakistan in Sri Lanka ODI Series 2015 Pakistan 3-2 (5)
West Indies in Sri Lanka ODI Series 2015/16 Sri Lanka 3-0 (3)
Australia in Sri Lanka ODI Series 2016 Australia
If you remove the victories against the west Indies we have only won against Pakistan and England. And then lost to the same Pakistan team the following year. So the sole worthy victory has been against the England team who until yesterday was not considered a real ODI powerhouse. Yet if we look at the ODI series against England who were the top scores.
Player Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave
KC Sangakkara (SL) 7 7 1 454
JE Root (ENG) 7 7 2 367 104*
TM Dilshan (SL) 7 7 0 357 101
MM Ali (ENG) 7 7 0 236 119
DPMD Jayawardene (SL) 6 6 1 211
RS Bopara (ENG) 6 6 0 185 65
AD Mathews (SL) 7 6 1 182 51*
JWA Taylor (ENG) 4 4 0 170
So on the 4th ODI all the top scores for sri Lanka was either retired or injured and the team barely managed to score 200. In the same time the England team scored a 400 + score. Over the years the cricket board has made sure that by making slow low turning pitches that the team could be given and advantage. And it was used with the 2 fast bowler 2 spinner 2 spin bowling allrounder combination. And now since all the front line fast bowlers are injured the management opted to use the trail by spin tactics and exploit the Australian weakness for spin. But this has failed miserably.
The status quo is obvious. In the ODI its the batsmen who wins the match. Since its 50 overs the batsman can take the risk and pick their targets. And one good partnership as happened in the 3rd and 4th ODI could just milk the spinners.
What the management should have done.
The management of the Sri Lankan team could have given this tournament as a opportunity to blood the next generation of cricketers for the upcoming worldcup. Given the victories in the test series even a 5-0 loss in the ODI series would have been forgiven given that many youngsters given the opportunity based on merit. But some of the selection were purely based on political influence of certain families involved with the management and favoritism based on certain players. Well the management gave some of the opportunities some came too little too late, the rest came as offerings for supporting the election of Mr Sumatipala as Roshan Abeysinghe said the most decorated cricket related personal both nationally and internationally in the country (LOL :P).
And what the management DID.
The management did bring in thisara perarea who was playing for the srilanka A even though he did not make any contributions. He was favored by mathews as a fast bowler and bat down the order. He may be useful in a T20 but not in a ODI. He has not done enough over the years for given and opportunity. Then Mathews went with 3 spinners and 1 spin bowling allrounder. But the question about who was going to ball in the last few overs was not answered. There is no strike bowler, or even enough batting fire power to make a decent score. Its high time we should stop playing bits and pieces players and give opportunity to promising youngsters even if you loose a few.
For next match it would be interesting to see who gets to bowl. Kasun Rajitha only played 2 T20is. may be he can come in as fast bowler.
The cricket board lacks planning big time. When a opening batsmen retires they bring on a spin bowling allrounder with some influence. And some of the players whom they invested initially are not considered. E.g shanaka. Since the 2019 worldcup will be held in England it is important to find few fast bowlers. If Mathews in playing as the fast bowling allrounder and Dhanjaya de Silva is playing as a offspining batting allrounder then all we need to do is find few decent batters and and 2-3 fast bowlers. The current team looks like a early team from New Zealand where you have medium pace allrounders who bat at no 7 8. In Sri Lankan team today its spin bowling allrounders who neither spin no score. The management should have a plan when they bring on a new players as to how many Mathews will be given and should explain to them what are the desired results.
It will be interesting to see who will bowl in south Africa. Given that the fast bowlers are all injured and not given opportunity at least in this series the cricket management will have to answer for the crime committed in this series.
In addition it also be interesting to see what they plan on doing with avishka fernando. If his father is not infuencial enough there is a good chance that he will not play for the national team for a while.
this would be my team for the final ODI: MD Gunathilaka, Aviskha Ferando,D de Silva, ,Kusal Mendis, Udara Jayasundera/UPUL Tharanga , Chandimal (WK/CAPT), Dilruwan Perera, sadakan, Aponso, Kasun Rajitha, Damitha Silva (19 year old uncapped fast bowler)
Furthermore we need to learn to respect the other teams. Australia is not Bangladesh. For them its fast bowlers doing the damage upfront. And we don't even want play a single one. We assume they are weak against the spinners and they will crumble. the 4th ODI was won in 31 overs. This is shameful.
Well when you have a politician who was not elected by the people who anyway become the speaker of the parliament though other means and is at the helm of the cricket board which has only been held by very few gentlemen in the last decade this is the only thing that we could expect.