SLPL marketing and promotion could have been better

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Russel Arnold responds to questions from fans in his weekly column
August 11, 2012

Has enough of a hype over the SLPL been created amongst locals, fans wonder. © AFP
Has enough hype over the SLPL been created amongst locals, fans wonder. © AFP

You were in Sri Lanka recently for India’s tour of Sri Lanka, what kind of hype do you see for the SLPL marketing-wise? Did you hear about it on radio, see any commercials on TV and in newspapers or any billboards? How do you rate the promotion and marketing of the SLPL in Sri Lanka: poor or great? – Ray Silva

It is gathering momentum. The marketing for this event has to be done in between the promotional activities of the WT20, so the market is shared. I think the efforts are good considering the circumstances, but I really can’t say it has been great. If the WT20 was not around, all the air time on radio and TV, together with all other advertising options, could have been filled with SLPL promos, which would have been ideal. In the last couple of days though, it has been full on.

We know that Muttiah Muralitharan cannot fully straighten his arm due to a deformity, so his arm is bent at the elbow from the start of his action to his follow-through. Why then are bowlers like Harbhajan Singh and Saeed Ajmal, who can fully straighten their elbows, allowed to bowl with a bent arm? I don’t think it’s humanly possible for them to keep that bent elbow at the same degree from shoulder level to point of delivery all the time? Allowing this to happen is only making the ICC’s bio-mechanics experts lose credibility. – Ajay

The fact is that no bowler has a straight arm. Bowlers were initially tested because of Murali, but during those tests other bowlers were brought in and tested too. After which it was discovered that there are many others who bend and straighten to a greater degree than Murali. That’s where the allowance was increased. Tests have proved that the likes of Ajmal, Singh etc are all within that new limit.

Who is the best coach you have worked under and why?
– Gehan Fernando

Dav Whatmore. We had a young team under him and life seemed perfect back then. He was not very technically sound but was great at making guys feel wanted. He maintained a wonderful atmosphere around the dressing room. I thought we progressed as a team and as individuals quite a bit during his time. The core of the team that took Sri Lanka through the last decade were put together in that period.

Who should open batting for Sri Lanka in the ICC World Twenty20 2012 in September? – Priyan Balasuriya

That’s an easy one – Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene.

According to news reports, former ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat has been hired for a hefty sum when the cricket board is in a financial crisis. What do you think about this development and why do you think SLC has hired Lorgat? – Amila Jayawardene

I was surprised at this development, and one of the reasons was for the point you made. But, when you do give it some thought, Lorgat is a very experienced administrator. If using him in this short-term role means that SLC can tap into his wealth of knowledge, and it helps SLC get their act together, it could end up being a worthwhile investment. He is independent and does not need this role for personal gain. After all, we have had many administrators who have struggled fulfilling their roles and something out of the box is not a bad idea.

Upul Tharanga is not good enough to handle the opening position because, as you know, this modern-day cricket is not the cricket that we played in the past. If you want to play for your country as a batsman, you should contribute in more than one way – as an all-rounder or a good fielder. If you have no ability to contribute in at least a couple of ways, then you should be as good as Mike Hussey, Gautam Gambhir, Hashim Amla or Jonathan Trott. Tharanga is an average batsman and of late he hasn’t done well. He is not even an aggressive batsman or a good fielder. Don’t you think Mahela Jayawardene should bat at Tharanga’s position and Jeevan Mendis be given a consistent run? If Jayawardene opened the innings in the first ODI against India recently, I think the result would have been different. What do you think about that? If you don’t agree with me, please explain to me what Tharanga’s role is in the team? – Tharaka

Tharanga, as you rightly said, has not performed to the best of his abilities of late. Over the years though, he has been one of our best batsmen. Even though he does not seem to have the best of techniques, he does score runs and that should be the bottom line. Players do go through tough times but you cannot discount him. You do have to pick players who are in-form, and now there is competition for places with Lahiru Thirimanne and Jeevan Mendis starting to contribute regularly. You also cannot keep changing team plans every other day; Jayawardene moving down the order was one such decision. Going into the series, it was fair enough to open with Tharanga. But moving forward, Sri Lanka will have decisions to make. Even Dilshan was quite mediocre in the last series. Therefore, you just cannot clear everyone out. We also need to trust the players to pick up their game and perform. Jayawardene batting down the order has other benefits – he can bat with the younger guys in an effort to build a team for the future. We also have to be careful about making sudden changes, as there is a long-term goal that needs to be achieved.

When Kumar Sangakkara is back, Lahiru Thirimanne should bat at the number-four position instead of Dinesh Chandimal. I feel that he bats more intelligently, and has more potential than Chandimal. It’s unfair that he is batting at number-seven, while Chandimal bats at four and has more time to spend in the middle. Chandimal can hit the ball big; why doesn’t he bat at number-seven and be the finisher until Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara retires? What do you think? – Helitha de Zoysa

Based on present form, that is a fair call. But leading into this series, I think Chandimal had done enough to be ahead of Thirmanne. The last two series have been quiet for Chandimal. Unless you play the younger guys, and give them more exposure, you will never know what they are capable of. The positive for Sri Lanka is that when Sangakkara does come back, there will be a pool of batsmen that the team can pick from. That’s good for competition and it will make players perform to hold their place. The number four spot is looked at as a spot where the younger guy will play with Sangakkara and Jayawardene on either side. Chandimal cannot expect to hold that spot down without making a contribution, and it’s only a matter of time before he comes good. Thirimanne, on the other hand, is doing exactly what any good batsman should do. He is performing in any position and has grabbed the opportunities provided to him. I do think that present form should decide who should bat there. Thirimanne has now put not only Chandimal, but the selectors under pressure too.

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