Sri Lanka Cricket needs direction – The way forward!

After a horrific tour of England, losing the test, ODI and super series, our boys have one t20 match to salvage some pride. However, even a win is not going to be enough to really make a difference in mindset to transform our national team back to the glory days of being a cricket super-power. 

We have all heard too often of the usual phrase : "transformation, young team,  blah blah blah!" over the last couple of years  after the retirements of our greats, but what many do no realize are the problems that keep staring at us on our faces, and the reasons for not arresting these problems by the Sri Lanka Cricket board baffles me! These are problems that keep looming from every nook and corner, and solutions are needed to be drafted in with immediate effect, keeping in mind that if we want our team to be successful at the 2019 World Cup, these below points need to be given priority status.

Sri Lanka Cricket :

The national team`s problems over the last couple of years starts right here, at Maitland Place! I personally feel that Sidath Wettimuny did a tremendous job during his short stint as chairman of the interim committee..  He appointed the right people for the job, he began infrastructure development projects at Khettarama and also revamped the SLC from huge debts and financial irregularities.  Unfortunately all these were stopped by the present office-bearers. I do not say that the Sumathipala administration are screaming foul, but unfortunately the reasons for discontinuation of the khettarama project and scrapping of mahela jayawardane`s draft of the First Class Inter Provincial system is shocking!

Solutions :

  • In order to save our beloved national sport from dying a natural death, action must begin from the root – Our Parliament. The constitution must be changed  and the bill passed as soon as possible  ridding any political interference and the election system of office bearers who try to get votes from clubs in promise of favors and financial benefits. A favorable system must be adopted by the parliament in the event of election or appointment of office bearers in consultation with leading cricketers and administrators of yesteryears, the past and the present.
  • Haroon Lorgat`s recommendation, which is presently sitting on a dusty shelf at SLC needs to be implemented with immediate effect. A cue can be taken of how boards such as Australia, South Africa or England set about their business.
  • Mahela Jayawardane`s draft of the first class system must reviewed and implemented at the earliest
  • All development projects stopped by the present officials must me recommenced.
  • Former greats like Arjuna Ranathunga, Marvan Atapattu, Aravinda De Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardane, Sanath Jayasuriya,Chaminda Vaas and Muthiah Muralidharan are needed to come together and be part of the board, setting aside personal differences for the sake of the cricket in our country, with each taking up different roles and appointing Sanga or Mahela as mentors of the national team
  • Re begin the SLPL t20 tournament which would help our first class cricketers get a feel of international cricket, meanwhile improving their skills and knowledge, as this could also help in bridging the wide gap of skill possessed by our first class cricketers to International standards.

Team Set-Up

A pool of 50 top players in the island must be created. Test,t20 and ODI specialists should all be included in this list. It is these 50 players who would be part of the senior national team and the "A" team.  Competition is compulsory among the players in the first class system to get in to this pool of 50.  The "A" team should really be made the feeding point of players to the national team.

ODI  :

From the way the present tour of England has panned out, we could safely say we have a fixed top 5, but the problem is they all need to keep taking responsibility to perform consistently.

Top Order

  • I believe Kusal Perera needs to don the gloves as Chandimal looks like a very important prospect for us with the bat and should be let to concentrate fully as a batsman. We all know Kusal Perera can be devastating up front along with Danushka Gunathilaka. If they both take more responsibility, and with more maturity, they could only get better. Upul Tharanga should be the stand in opener
  • Kusal Mendis has indeed been a revelation and at age 21, could improve greatly. Perseverance is important with this little kid even if he fails in the future as with Chandimal. 
  • The perseverance of Dinesh Chandimal is just beginning to bare fruit now. His talents were evident when he bludgeoned the Indian attack in Zimbabwe scoring a 100 in just his 2nd ODI and then that famous 100 at Lords a few matches later. Everybody called for his neck during the last couple of years when he had a horrid time. He is finally re-paying the trust of the selectors in style. He is expected to be the next Mahela for Sri Lanka, and he is on track.
  • Angelo Mathews does not need any introduction. An important cog in the batting line up, his captaincy though, has become under fire.

Captaincy Issue :

It is pretty evident that in spite of being the best cricketer in the national team, Angelo lacks the killer instinct as far field-placings, bowling changes or even Team Selection for that matter. He must learn the art of attacking captaincy from players like mahela, sanga, Dhoni or Ponting for that matter. In today`s day and age where the opposition can be placed at 92/6, a captain must go for the kill instead of getting laid back and waiting for the opposition to make a mistake, as Angie learned this the heard way in the present England tour. I still feel Angelo deserves a chance atleast till the end of this year, and see if he could learn from his mistakes, and if not, a call must be taken on the captaincy issue. Dinesh Chandimal is the next best available option for captaincy. If people remember the 2014 t20 worldcup we won, chandimal captained the majority of the tournament and his field-placings and bowling changes were spot on, though he might have been aided by one of the greatest captains in Mahela, before he was dropped due to his terrible form in the semi finals, before being replaced by Lasith Malinga, who only captained in the semi final and final. Obviously, that too its understood, the shots were called by the 2 legends behind the stumps.  Hopefully Angie learns and becomes a ruthless leader, just like his batting, as he is the most experienced player in the team.

Middle & Lower Order:

Kusal Mendis, Chandi and Angie take up the batting slots of 3,4, and 5, the number 6 and 7 slot is very crucial for sri lanka, Dasun Shanaka has very much confirmed his position on the batting line up, but what comes afterwards is the worrying sign for Sri Lanka.

Seekkuge Prasanna would be an ideal solution to have a spinning all rounder/hitter, unfortunately his consistencywith the bat and inability of spinning the ball has become the biggest worry. Since Tillakarathne Dilshan is still available for selection, I believe must be drafted in to fill in this position. This way, we will be adding muscle, experience and cushioning till the top order settles down, and also provide us with an important option of spin. Dilshan should  not be put up the order, as we need a long term plan for the opening slot.

Spinners : Jeffrey Vandersay/Lakshan Sandakan/Prasanna

Fast Bowlers : Lasith Malinga/Dushmantha Chameera/Nuwan Pradeep/ Vishwa Fernando 

Fringe Players : They needed to be brought into the team and given an opportunity at the earliest

Roshen Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Bhanuka Rajakashe, Sammu Ashan, Charith Asalanka, Dilshan Munaweera, Lahiru Thirimanne      

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