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SL Cricket in Humpty-Dumpty Condition

May 15, 2017

Rex Clementine:, in The Island, 14 May 2017, with title “The price people pay for their arrogance”

The moment Hitler had France under his control, he had the whole of Western Europe at his beck and call. It gave him a massive adrenaline rush and he thought he could do just about anything. Instead of consolidating in Western Europe, Hitler invaded Russia. That proved to be a fatal mistake. The price people pay for their arrogance!

 Sri Lanka go into Champions Trophy as the worst fielding team in the competition. They have been hard at work in Kandy to lift their fielding standards.Picture credit Sameera Pieiris/ The Papare.com.

In cricket, the West Indies thought that they would continue to produce world class players. Natural talent was enough to dominate world cricket they believed. Australia shook them up by using sports science to good effect. Other teams soon took a leaf out of the Aussies’ book by setting up Centres for Excellence and world class cricket academies. It took a while for the West Indies to realize that the times were fast changing and they needed to embrace technology. Despite the brilliance of Brian Lara, West Indies struggled. Since Lara they are no more world class. No Champions Trophy for them and they might even get kicked out from making it to the 2019 World Cup. The price people pay for their arrogance!

A media release from the International Cricket Council a few days back send chills down the spine. If Bangladesh do well in the ongoing tri-nation tournament in Ireland also involving New Zealand, they will move to number six of the ICC Rankings pushing Sri Lanka to number seven! Only hosts England and the other top seven teams get automatic qualification for the next World Cup in 2019. Sri Lanka are now precariously placed touching the relegation zone and a poor outing in the Champions Trophy could spell disaster. There will be a public outcry if the national cricket team fails to qualify automatically for the World Cup.

There has been intense preparation for Champions Trophy in a bid to address the recent poor performances of the side, but too much has been left to be done way too late. Some of the grey areas of Sri Lankan cricket should have been addressed much earlier. There were warning signs when premier fast bowler Chaminda Vaas issued caution two years ago when he said that our fast bowlers were fat and unfit. Instead of addressing the issue, people were content to shoot the messenger. Vaas in the end had to pay a price as there was a coup against him by the team’s senior bowlers. SLC gave in and Vaas was taken out of national team duty.

In any field of life, if you are unable to embrace change, you will be eventually made null and void. During the last decade, younger cricket playing nations like Bangladesh were busy putting up Centres for Excellence. Bangladesh apparently took SLC’s blueprint and started modernizing their facilities. SLC’s master-plan came to a reality only last week. Instead of investing the money on much needed modern infrastructure, our administrators were busy building up massive stadiums to satisfy the egos of politicians. Today the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium at Sooriyawewa has become a white elephant. The price people pay for their arrogance!

Now there are plans to put up a new stadium at Pollonaruwa. And you obviously know the name of the ground. Maithripala Sirisena Stadium. Dayasiri Jayasekara might as well demand a brand new ground at Kurunegala!

Sri Lanka has been for long giving scant respect for fielding. When media called Sri Lanka the worst fielding team in the world, the players and team management repeatedly told us that it was an unfair assessment. Only when fielding cost us dearly in the recent series against Bangladesh, efforts were made to address the fielding woes. Now they are working overtime to improve fielding. The horse anyway has bolted.

We can confirm that throughout the Bangladesh series, Sri Lanka never used the services of Fielding Coach Nic Pothas. We challenge Sri Lanka Cricket to deny our statement. Cricket Manager Asanka Gurusinha recently admitted that fielding woes needed to be addressed. He even went to the extent to state that sloppy fielders – even if they score enough runs and take enough wickets – could be snubbed from selection. The selectors, however, played by a different set of rules. They selected all the untidy fielders for Champions Trophy. Our stand-in captain Upul Tharanga perhaps is the worst fielder in the world. Lakshan Sandakan and Thisara Perera will be close second and third.

Worse, Chairman of Selectors Sanath Jayasuriya, who himself was an outstanding fielder, went on record saying that not to expect a clean sheet when it comes to fielding. Basically he is telling you to not to expect Sri Lanka to win the Champions Trophy.

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