During Arjuna Ranatunga’s tenure as captain fast bowling took a back seat and the primary job of an opening bowler was to wear off the new ball without conceding too many runs.
The match only began for the Sri Lankans after 15th Over. Until such time containment was the order of the day.
Champaka Ramanayake, Pramodya Wickremasinghe, and Dulip Liyanage – among others who came and went – were all mere passengers.
Deep Gullies, a lone Slip – if you were lucky, and everyone else placed on the edge of the 30 yard circle was the norm when Sri Lanka’s pace bowlers were on.
For years the Anwars and the Laras feasted on the hapless medium pacers who were asked to bowl a steady line and length and to forget pace.
Under Mahela Jayawardene Sri Lanka’s fast bowling took a dramatic turn. We saw the rise of Malinga, Kulasekara, Maharoof, Thushara, Fernando, and Prasad. The Fast bowlers played more of a role.
Sri Lankan pace-men were given the responsibility and the ability to contribute their ideas towards the game plan. Attacking fields were set; The self belief and confidence which comes with being given the responsibility to do the job, bore fruit.
Lasith Malinga set a new world record dismissing four batsman in four consecutive deliveries. Nuwan kulasekara is now the number one ranked bowler in the ICC ODI rankings.
The Sri Lankan pace-men have contributed prominently in recent times because they were given that opportunity to do so.
How will Sri Lanka’s pace attack progress under Kumar Sangakkara?
Even though the administration pulls Sri Lanka Cricket down it is important that the players keep taking Sri Lanka forward. It is crucial for Sangakkara to identify the success under Mahela Jayawardene and look to develop on them.
Mitchell Johnson of Australia – talking to Mark Nicholas at the end of the 3rd Test match in Cape Town – mentioned that he had been running in hard all day and hitting the deck hard.
"It was important that I kept running in hard and kept hitting the deck hard," I heard Mitchell say. Strangely Sri Lanka adopts a strategy which is completely the opposite.
A Sri Lankan fast bowler is asked to forget about bowling fast and concentrate on their line and length, this negativity needs to be discarded immediately. The mentality of Sri Lankan coaches need tweaking as well. A fast bowler must bolt to the crease, leap, and hit the deck hard in order to be effective consistently. Control in line and length should be worked out in the nets.
Bowling 10 overs a day and hitting good lines in the nets must be introduced as part of a bowler’s daily fitness routine. Greater control of Line and Length can be achieved by regular practise.
Kumar Sangakkara is a great thinker of the game; He however won’t ponder on a solution if he never identifies the problem.