Malinga is captaincy material — Arnold


Russel Arnold responds to questions from fans in his weekly column
October 28, 2012

Lasith Malinga was appointed vice-captain of Sri Lanka’s T20 team. © AFP

Lasith Malinga was made T20 vice-captain for one year, what do you think of this move? Does he have what it takes to lead Sri Lanka if Angelo Mathews gets injured in an important game?Kasun Kumarasinghe

It is a good move. Although he just seems to float around in his unassuming way, he does have a very good head on his shoulders and is always switched on. Lasith is a man of a few words, but he does come up with some great suggestions that have surprised many. At one time, when Dilshan stepped down and Mahela was reluctant to captain, I wondered why we did not go with Malinga as our captain for the shorter formats, as I felt Angelo was not ready.

What do you think about Sri Lanka’s squad for the T20 against New Zealand, which takes place at the end of this month, and what is your final XI for that match?SK Jayasiri

My XI would be Dilshan Munaweera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews. And then you have Dinesh Chandimal, Jeevan Mendis and Kumar Sangakkara making up the rest of the batting. Ideally, I would like to see Jeevan and Chandimal coming in next, but then there is no use batting Kumar at No. 7. The remaining spots go to Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Shaminda Eranga and Akila Dananjaya. I would prefer to give either Kumar or Dilshan a break and maybe give Kapugedera, who can hit the ball hard, another chance and see how he goes once again. After all, he is more mature now. Shifting responsibility over to the next generation might be the tonic he needs. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be many other names one could bring in at this stage.

What positives can we take from the WT20? And do you see Jeevan Mendis making his Test debut any time soon, is he a long-term plan?Aramva Adhikari

There were many positives. Other than in the final, Sri Lanka played very good cricket and there were contributions from all personnel in the team. The admirable manner in which the younger guys performed showed us that they belong at the highest level and are skilful. Of course, it’s now left to be seen if they can take on the responsibility of piloting the team. Jeevan certainly seems a very lively character and contributes in many ways on the field; Sri Lanka do need to give him a go in Tests sooner rather than later. However, his style and technique can be a concern in Test cricket, but you will never know if he has the mental ability to find a way to score runs in that format if you do not play him. At nearly 30, it’s tough to say if he is a part of Sri Lanka’s long-term plans. He does have another 4–5 years of cricket left in him.

Do you think Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan will play the next ODI World Cup in Australia? I would also like to know what you think is the best for plan for Sri Lanka in the coming years. Should we play Jayawardene, Sangakkara and Dilshan much less, especially in shorter formats of the game, in order to develop more younger players?Waruna Perera

I do think the three seniors should target the 2015 World Cup, which will literally be played in alien conditions. Mahela and Dilshan will need to assess their careers as they go along, as a few niggles have crept in. They should determine if they can continue. Kumar, on the other hand, is very fit. I really don’t have any doubt that he can go on. Giving the younger guys more responsible roles in important tours is the way forward. I am not very sure if Dilshan will continue in the five-day format for too much longer, so it’s Mahela and Kumar that will need to manage the work load. On the flip side of the coin, getting youngsters to bat higher up the order, to give them the experience in controlling an innings, rather than playing supporting roles, is also crucial.

Do you think leagues such as the IPL, BBL and CLT20 should be given a window in the international calendar by ICC?Shane Rampaul

Creating windows in the international calendar does sound good and it will help tournaments be more successful. It will also allow players to play in many more tournaments. While there are numerous benefits, what becomes of international cricket? That’s the responsibility of the ICC. If they create a window for one tournament, how do you refuse another? With so many tournaments going around, it may not be feasible. However, the CLT20 does have a window in FTP.

Sri Lanka Cricket has chosen to sideline Test cricket over the last 12–15 months, and have replaced Test matches with limited-over matches for several tours. What do you think of this?Kamal D

The limited-over matches were mostly involving India and that is to raise money. That’s the only way that goal can be achieved. To keep cricket running, or even for developing cricket in Sri Lanka, you do need money. It is unbelievable the difference in earnings when India is involved in a series, when compared to any other team. This is true not only for Sri Lanka, but for other countries as well. Therefore, you can understand what SLC is thinking. They are trying to capitalise on any given opportunity. But, unfortunately, this comes at a cost — sacrificing Test cricket.

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