Let’s face it. Sri Lanka were pathetic right throughout the tournament. They showed glimpses of their true potential against weaker opposition, whose low standards of bowling and fielding kept our semi final hopes alive.
The West Indies, New Zealand and Zimbabwe bowled poorly to Jayawardene, fielded poorly and aided our batters immensely to give our bowlers a total to defend against batsmen who have historically struggled against spin. Against India, Mathews, Perera, and Kapugedera stood up to the plate, but victory came off the last ball; not convincing at all.
When faced up with more relentless and professional opposition, Sri Lanka caved. Demoralising defeats against Australia and England, and the 5 wicket loss against South Africa in the warm-up match, all points to the fact that Sri Lanka hasn’t evolved much as a side since the 1990s.
The batsmen produced in the last decade have all resembled batsmen before them. Sri Lanka is yet to produce a batsman who can stand his own ground on fast, bouncy wickets against bowlers clocking 140K’s and above. They showed us again today with Dilshan, Jayawardene and Jayasuriya’s dismissals that our top order is still vulnerable to pace, swing and bounce. We are largely a one dimensional side that thrives on batting friendly tracks. The sooner we face reality, the better.
To get out of this rut, playing at the IPL, or even trying to create bouncy tracks in Sri Lanka will not help. It is time that our bankrupt Board (SLC) stops playing India every two months and considers sending our blokes to England to play a few seasons of county cricket, or even strike a deal with Cricket Australia to start pumping our players into their domestic shield sides in exchange for the same.
Today, England bowled intelligently and brilliantly when the wicket offered swing early, and equally brilliantly towards the end. Their batsmen cashed in on the slower ball bouncer when Sri Lankan batsmen struggled to cope with it. Not only did they outdo Sri Lanka with variations in bowling, but their batsmen are now more suited to play on any surface, anywhere on the planet. Not something Sri Lanka can match up to unfortunately.