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Cricket team crisis due to dressing room divisions?

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Hello Friends

The drastic decline in the Sri Lankan cricket teams performance in recent times is a cause for concern and worry among all lovers of the game who root for our Lankan lads.

It can only be cricket that draws a shop-window crowd like this in Colombo, Sri Lanka ~ pic courtesy of: twitter.com/brysonhull

The latest defeat in South Africa has upset many and even made our unflappable cabinet minister Keheliya Rambukwella “feel horrible”.

Avid fans cannot help observing that Sri Lanka was a World Cup finalist and ranked third in Test cricket when Tillekeratne Dilshan took over the captaincy. The visible slide in the team’s fortunes after this “transition”has given rise to much gossip about intra-team splits, conspiracy theories and personality clashes as being the cause of this . The drop in form of former captain Mahela Jayewardene has added grist to the rumour mills.

Veteran Sports Journalist TMK Samat who writes the popular “Samat on Sunday” column for “The Sunday Leader” has touched on these matters in his inimitable style this week.

Sam as he is known was the Sports Editor at “The Island” when I worked there in the eighties of the last century. He then left Sri Lanka for an overseas job and returned after many years to write for the “Leader” under Lasantha Wickrematunge.

TMK Samat is a polished person and a gentleman to his fingertips. Working together with Sam at “The Island” was a pleasure and boon.

As a schoolboy I like many others had been great fans of his. I used to buy the evening observer those days only to read Samat’s writing on the matches played by College. He changed the style and mode of Sports journalism. So it was quite thrilling to be on first name basis with Sam.

I have great pleasure in reproducing TMK Samat’s column “Samat on Sunday”from “The Sunday Leader” of January 15th 2012 on my blog.

Here it is Friends-DBS Jeyaraj

Cricket team crisis due to dressing room divisions

By T.M.K. Samat

Mahela Jayawardene

Mahela Jayawardene’s prolonged failure is a worrying concern, and though it would be wrong to singularly blame him for the country’s fourth straight Test series defeat, the no.4’s sub-par contributions is a significant reason for the continued cataclysm, plunging the team to sixth in the ICC rankings, from third a shade over a year ago.

By any measure, the fall is steep as it is rapid. Admittedly a slide in the post-Muralidaran years was to be expected, but a decline this deep wasn’t quite bargained for. It was hoped that the deficiencies ensuing the champion spinner’s retirement would be minimised by the weight of contributions from the team’s three senior most batsmen – i.e. they would help build the sort of totals that would shelter the team from defeat.

Given the derring-do ways of Tillekeratne Dilshan, the captain, it’s an accepted fact that just as much as he might succeed gloriously; he might just as easily fail abjectly. As ever, he remains an irresistible gamble. Which is to say that more than him, it were the other two seniors, ex-captains Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara who one banked on to rally the batting and take the team to safe ground.

Neither, however, delivered as much as one hoped they would in South Africa ; Jayawardene lesser, aggregating 132 to Sangakkara’s 185, his second Test century making up nearly two-third of the tally.

Thilan Samaraweera - pic courtesy: Reuters

Thilan Samaraweera, incidentally, topped the list with 339, including two hundreds, averaging a shade below 67. But then Samaraweera can’t be bracketed with the ‘reliable’ trio of seniors, given that he was rejected, albeit controversially, for the previous series, against Pakistan . And his inclusion for the South African tour was more accidental than intentional, accompanying the touring party as a precaution against Jayewardene buckling under a suspect knee. But I digress.

Back to Jayawardene: It’s not uncommon for even the world’s best batsman to experience a bad tour, a streak of misfortune which the game’s pundits wave away as an aberration, a part of a batsman’s life.

But in Jayawardene’s case his run of misfortune has been too long for his and his team’s liking. Consider: Over the last twelve Test matches, he has garnered just 559 runs from 23 innings at an average of 24.30 – numbers that are some way adrift of the quantum expected of a batsman with a career average of 50.72 and who is the sole Sri Lankan to earn admission to the World 10,000 Test-run club.

It was also disconcerting that Jayewardene’s big scores over the last 23 innings have been a single century and a half century; both complied in the home series against Australia last May/June. In the three away series: his highest was 49, 39 and 31 against England last May, Pakistan last Sept/Oct and South Africa respectively – a parade of unexceptional scores that no doubt compounded the problems of a team negotiating a difficult transition. The bid to rediscover his deserted form via the ongoing ODI series in South Africa too had an inauspicious beginning, making two off 16 deliveries.

Against that backdrop, it wasn’t surprising that some critics should ask if the 34-year old has outlived his purpose. Of course, the call for his head hasn’t gotten quite as strident as when his form dipped previously, especially early after his appointment, in 1999, as deputy to Sanath Jayasuriya and then in the 2003 World Cup when his tally from some six innings barely managed to surpass single digits. In response to the critics’ castigations, Jayewardene was stripped of his vice captaincy in 2001 and then in the 2003 World Cup, he was left out of at least a game or two.

Time will tell if Jayawardene’s recent patchy form will bring banishment to the bench. His current poor form and the accompanying wretched statistics might prompt a drastic response from the selectors, but then these can’t be the only calculations in determining the fate of a proven accomplished batsman. The first question to ask is: if not Jayewardene, then who? If a long list of worthy alternatives is on the table, then discarding the one-time captain might be considered.

No such candidates exist; the struggles experienced by young bloods Chandimal, Thirimanne and J. K. Silva to get to terms with the exacting demands of Test cricket, now is clearly not the time to even contemplate ditching the coterie of our elders. So rather than suggest eviction of Jayawardene, he needs help and support to overcome what is really a crisis of confidence. Not that the veteran of fifteen years cannot sort his problem by himself, but for heaven’s sake, spare him the irritations of others deciding his time of retirement.

After all this isn’t the first time his batting has hit a patch of turbulence, and each time he has battled out of the troubles to flourish again, gloriously.

As well, it’s not as if Jayawardene was the solitary failure. Bar Samaraweera, none of the seniors contributed with the consistency expected of them, and so it’s fair to say that our batting, as a whole, had been woefully inadequate. So why he’s singled out for criticism provokes suspicion.

Indeed strained relationship between the seniors and the leader was made public by the Sport Minister himself. Gauging the influence of this estrangement on the team’s performances is difficult. But it isn’t wrong to say our cricket is much more capable than what much of the abysmal performances under Dilshan’s leadership might suggest. Thereby might hang a tale.

Tillekeratne Dilshan

The performances have declined progressively. It shouldn’t be forgotten Dilshan inherited a team that was World Cup finalist last April and no.3 in the Test rankings.

Though the losses to England and Australia in both Test and ODI series last year were disappointing, the one-win margin in each of the versions was at least honourably conceded. The margin conceded to Pakistan in the Tests was again by one win, but the ODIs were lost by a whopping, 1 / 4.

The first ever Test win on South African soil, one thought might inspire a bringing together of the team. But the thumping third Test defeat with a day to spare followed by our worst ever one-day defeat in the opening ODI, Wednesday night, suggests disharmony still haunts the dressing room.

As the team approached defeat in the third Test, coincidentally or not, a speculative news item broke out that Jayawardene had privately been spoken to about reassuming captaincy after the current tour, and he had consented – and if that might’ve gone to make Sri Lanka’s worst night of shame, Wednesday, isn’t implausible as it may seem.

But then a team’s innings collapsing within a session of a Test or losing five wickets in the first five overs of an ODI before being destroyed for 43 in 20.1 overs and whose ranking is in rapid decline, all in the space of nine odd months – is that plausible?

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  1. .
    Captaincy is the problem.

    It looks like Dilshan is not part of the ‘team’.

    When Sanga resigned, he mentioned about the age factor and he wanted someone young to takeover.

    Also Dilshan’s behaviour in India is questionable.

    Finally, he was not born as Dilshan.

    By the way, why Srilankan Team is not selected on District basis (same as for University admissions) to give a chance to backward districts?


  2. Thanks DBS for bringing TMK into your blog. It is always nice to be able to discuss and comment on things other than politics/ethnic relations.

    As for our team, Dilshan was never captain material and Kumar should never have given up the captaincy. It is true that Vaas and Murali are gone, but this is essentially the same batting line up that went to World cup finals. One can not imagine how they can be shot out for 43, even by the awesome bowling of South Africans!

    I am glad to hear the rumours of Mahela coming back to be the captain. He has failed in the ercent times, but he has too much class to be discarded. I hope he does stick around till the next WC in 2015. Mathiew probably is the future captain, but he is yet undercooked! I wish there was some way Malinga could be in the test side.

    Sri Lanka’s next stop in Australia, so they better get their act together fast or might as well stay at home.

  3. Dilshan the man with a big ego, can not be a good leader.

    The first sign that he will fail came when the official driver of the SL cricket team retired soon after the world cup. He did complain about Dilshan’s ego.

    It best that Dilshan resign and accept he failed as a captain.

  4. Thank you Mr.Jeyaraj for posting this piece by Mr.TMK Samat.I too was an avid reader of him those days.

    The drastic decline of the team is indeed a matter of grave concern

  5. Dilshan is a guy with Muslim father and Sinhala mother. He changed his name to be seen as Sinhalese. Still it is not working because racism is very much there

  6. Well it is proven that Dilshan cannot lead. he is not a captain. He is very lucky to be playing test cricket. His technique failed miserably in fast wickets and he has a very big ego which will affect this batting …… Opposition teams know that.

    Sanga talk too much these days. His decision to step down as a captain made things worst. He should focus on his batting game to retain number 1 spot. His failure to get out for outside the off stump deliveries are shocking….

    Mahela is out of form. he needs to get the form back before even thinking about captaincy. He should be dropped and let Samaraweera to have that spot until SL harness younger player like chandimal..

    Mathews would not be around as he failed this tour too. His playing techniques are fragile and I think he is body is injury prone. I do not expect Negambo boy to play for SL much longer!!

    I think Samaraweera should be given the Test Captaincy. He showed superb technique and mental toughness.

    Players should not be involved in the SLC politics. Now even tax payers have rescued the SL cricket.

    I am also not sire about the coach. is he right for us? May be it is time to look for a coach outside Australia.

    All the best

  7. It’s refreshing to see DBJ writing something on our beloved past time, now in despair. For starters I do agree with T.M.K’s assessment about the situation with Mahela & other senior player’s form during this time. For me this has a direct effect from the Finals of the WC in India, the fallout of Chief selector, Captain & V.Captain resigning within a span of few days. There are many conspiracy theories to this, such as the wholesale changes made in the morning of the Finals, the body language of our players “during” fielding & if our politicians sold out on our boys. None of us may never find the truth about it, but no matter how you look at it, it’s safe to say our downfall started right after this. Consider the scenarios that followed, specially the IPL drama, when our beloved sports minister tried playing hard ball with BCCI, calling our players home early trying to show some muscle. This led to Malinga quitting tests, and the two former captains staying back to fulfil their contractual obligations to their IPL clubs, which I should add SLC had previously agreed to. On their part the two captains did nothing wrong, ad they are considered 2 of the most genuine, no hanky-panky straight shooters, whose sole target is to win for the country. Their conduct on and off the field over the years is ample evidence of this, along with Kumars scathing speech in England last summer. They are not the kind that can be bought, and would rather resign when other’s cannot be removed from their position for ever. They both left the leadership due to un wanted pressure and interference from the top, this I know for a fact… let;s just say straight from the horses mouth!

    Then it’s safe to say their reluctance to lead created a vacuum in the leadership, which finally went to Dilshan whose character was a question with connections to betting & other disciplinary issues for a while. Yet he was selected, conveniently dropping Samaraweera on the way, who was a more logical candidate for leadership. Thus created the war between the Player agents, who are now positioning themselves to push their own players into the team with the new “chief” selector who is a puppet dancing to the tune of the higher ups. None of these were possible with the previous 2 captains, and players knew they had to perform to their best. The team chemistry was intact, as they believed and played for each other. One of the strongest attributes of a captain is not just to set the field, but also to motivate, lead & communicate with his players. Dilshan as many has found out over the years through his interviews, can hardly express something logical, let along conway it in English to his Australian coach. This has definitely created a rift in the dressing room. Clicks are bound to be made, as players take sides to safeguard their careers. All this happens when there is not clear direction by the LEADER. The past 2 Captains were able to back their players, give confidence for them to perform.

    Confidence as many of us who have played sports know, is one of the most fickle things to a player. You may be the most technically correct, highest scoring, wicket taker.. but the day you lose that confidence, is the start of your lean period. Just look at the once unbeatable Tiger Woods. Similarly our Cricketers have lost their confidence, especially the 2 past captains. They have achieved everything in Cricket, scored runs, lead the team, ICC rankings, and have done everything they can except win a WC. Yes, it comes back to the world cup that slipped through our hands for whatever the reason. What if the loss was something they had no choice of? Wouldn’t it disgusts you enough to quit your post, speak out against your governing body as Kumar did? What motivation and incentive would players like them get to go an perform at their highest level, if the leaders of your governing body has other agendas?

    The rumour is that SLC wants a change in the leadership, and Mahela has reluctantly agreed to take it after SA tour, on his terms (change in selection committee is one floated around). Whether Mahela has the right to demand such a term and receive is unto dispute. But what is not disputable is his ability to lead a team. Yes he has failed in these 2 tours with the bat, but as TMK wrote he did also fail before his captaincy. However some players perform better with responsibility, just like some (Dilshan) cannot handle that added pressure of captaincy as a batsmen. Mahela’s record shows that one of his best batting periods came under his own leadership, including the mammoth 370 against SA. He is someone who can lead from the front, bat with responsibility, bring some sanity & unity to the dressing room. He has his best bud Kumar to support and if SLC has any brains would jump at this slim opportunity to get a former skipper back in the saddle and direct the ship out of stormy waters. He would be the best to groom a young Chandimal as the next Captain for the 2015 WC, as both Mahela & Kumar probably won’t be around to play that. This I am certain of, because knowing the two, and their track record with the captaincy, they would rather leave before being pushed out the door.

  8. R U sure Atha that there is racism in the team? I know, we all are looking for answers for the failiure of the team. Dishan’s name was putforward by none other than Sanga, hence I doubt there is any of those issues. If it was how was Dilshan appointed captain by a team of selectors that are all non muslims!!!!!

    I hope this ugly racism will neve come up in our land.

  9. I don’t think it had anything to if Dilshan was Muslim or not. Who was there to take over the captaincy after Sanga and Mahela quit? It is not obvious that Dilshan even wanted to be the captain and was pushed into the position. I think it was certain that there was political or some other interference to make Sanga, Mahela and the Selection board to quit after the world cup.

    Come on DBS, with your contacts, I am sure you can get to the bottom of this fiasco!

  10. Denagamage has lots of facts. Yes Mahela is a better captain than even Kumar. We should be very happy if Mahela gives his consent to be the captain again. Thilan should have been the deal choice to lead the team after Kumar. But what went wrong is a million dollar question. Not only the captaincy but also was hown the door from the team a couple of games after that. This seems to be a conspiracy.

    Yes the world cup final will be haunting both the teams namely India and Sri Lanka. Both are at the receiving end. Did something happen, No one knows. But the problems have really started from there as far as Sri Lanka is concerned. No proper investigation was conducted. We just took it as another loss of opportunity.

    Angelo as Vice Captain was a good choice, but was it to early for him. Do not think about Chandimal now. Give him time to mature. If Angelo can come out of his injury problems and can demand a place in the side then he could be a leading contender for the captaincy. Remember the combination of Arjuna and Aravinda. Aravinda was a better player but Arjuna was a better reader of the game. In time to come we will have Angelo and Chandimal. Let them develop their future from now onwards. I think Chandimal is a better player but Angelo is a better reader of the game. Let that partnership blossom from now on and take us to the glory days.

  11. The real story is, Sanath Jayasuriya hates Sanggakara becuase he droped him from the world cup.Sanath Jayasuriya, Namal Rajapakse and Dilshan are close friends. Namal Rajapakse, got the president to fire Sangakkara from the captaincy. Now kumar and mahela is not supporting dilshan.

    Bloody politicians!!!

  12. Better appoint Mahela Jayawardane as a captain and make Tilan Samaraweera as a vice captain. When we loosing every one critizing. Do any one knows how many millions of dollars spending for Indian Cricketers. We can see now, how many matches India lost last one year. See now , even in Australia they can’t score 300 runs even in test matches. Number one team now sinking.

  13. For the same reason that the US Olympic team selections do not apply Affirmative Action laws used to increase opportunities for minorities in jobs, education, etc.

  14. I think to recover SL cricker following changes need to be made
    MR : Board President
    BR : Selector
    GR :Captin
    CR : Comentator
    NR : cheerleader

  15. Lankan cricket started sliding after Namal Rajapaksa started interfering with Sanath Jayasuriya grinding his axe

  16. This is not about racism. Its about (a)greed (b) politics (c)Administration
    not in the same order
    Greed – Aging super stars of Sri Lankan Cricketers want to make money in IPL before age catch up with them. I dont blame them. Just watch when IPL season starts Mahela, Sanga and Malinga will fire all guns.

    Politics – The former coach Trevo Bayliss said that he is surprised how the Sri Lankan cricketers can take on so much political interference and still go out and give their 100%
    Even recently couple of politicians wants to give a dress down and lecture the cricketers.Sports doesnt work like that and political inteference only make players more de motivated.
    Selecting Sanath for a farewell retirement last summer was a grave mistake was another political stunt I was at the T20 game when Michael Atherton asked Sanath directly if his selection was political. Sanath answered people are talking without knowing the facts. what facts?
    Administration – In Sri Lankan Cricket Board is full of people who want to swindle the board and who want to be there for their cv no one is interested in cricket
    when there is corruption at the highest level, when there is discrimination even now based on language and religion and region how can any sports team at national level perform
    Look at the picture available at islandcricket where Sanga is sitting down as a school boy in frot of Mahinda and others looking on….after the world cup defeat. who on earth with any sense publish such pictures other than to undermine

  17. Pingback: Cricket team crisis due to dressing room divisions? | SportSquare

  18. Nothing to do with racism,its jsut that Dilshan is not captain material and also a person who changes his name is not worth to be a leader!

    he does seem to have ego problems too

  19. The problems stems out from the top.. I mean, from the Head of the SL Govt.
    How would the players feels if their pays were suspended to build a stadium for the President’s Home town?
    How would the team feel to have a political thug (from Nawalapitiya) to be the sports minister, barking instructions and intimidating the players to perform..?
    Imagine, if you are not paid at your day job for 8 months..? Would you feel like going to work?
    There are lot of parallels between SL political mode and SL cricket mode.. if the “top” shows good leadership in both fronts the nation and the sport we all love will prosper..

    On the other hand India is on the opposite world – over payed, demi-gods getting thrashed in Australia.

    One needs the pride to play for his team… Just look at the Aussies, they value the Baggy Greeen so highly… their captain(and many players) threw away million dollar IPL offers to be part of it…!!

  20. LOL haha this is the best post I have seen and the best solution. Good on you man. I couldnt stop laughing. You are right but you need to give a role for Mrs MR too :). Drinks lady or tea lady ? 🙂

  21. Excellent analysis !!

    Why aren’t the cricket admins not cricket wise/

    When we have political stooges to admin the cricket will never survive.

  22. SL Lover says:
    Mathews would not be around as he failed this tour too. His playing techniques are fragile and I think he is body is injury prone. I do not expect Negambo boy to play for SL much longer!!


    What the hell wrong with Mathews and his origins?

    He got talent and he deserves his due place in the team!!!

  23. Why jump on chandimal just now? Isn’t it too early ?

    Give the guy some time to prove himself. He needs to prove he is a team man.

    Other than that you analysis is good.

  24. Rajash says
    when there is corruption at the highest level, when there is discrimination even now based on language and religion and region how can any sports team at national level perform


    Hmm… Why not make Murali the chief in admin of the Cricket board ???

    He is the most suitable at present.

    Can some one with a backbone clean the cricket board ???

    No more politics please !!

  25. It is an absurd comment. Minorities in Sri Lanka quickly start blaming racism for everything that goes wrong. Muslim players like Jehan Mubarak and Maharoof were persisted with in the national side for many years despite repeated failure and lack of talent. The greatest and most celebrated Sri lankan cricketer of alltime was a tamil called Muralitharan.

  26. When Dilshan is in form he is a good attacking batsman. But is not captain material at all and will never be. He was the last possible choice, but selected to do the job, because he would easily go along with the crooks of Sri Lanka Cricket. The most logical choice for the captaincy is Mahela. He should accept for the post to save the game from total collapse.

  27. Come on all Ye cricket fans who want to see Sri Lanka do well, voice not yor wrath on the lambs sent to the slaughter, but at the pundits who have been told by Anura Tennekoon that the guys need to be given to bat on fast, bouncy wickets and A. T. got as far as getting his view in print in the Daily News about 3 or 4 years ago! SInce then Nada -nothing has been done, but alas it frustrates me because there is a lot that can be done and there is a solution. It just can’t be conveyed to the pundits at the helm because they don’t give ear. The have never heard the terms “Let me bounce it off the wall at you” or “think outside the box”. So until they do, don’t pin it on the batsmen for going out “whoosh” for 43! Reminds me of sitting on the throne withan upset tummy. These SLCricket’s administrators! Grrrr!

  28. Come on all Ye cricket fans who want to see Sri Lanka do well, voice not yor wrath on the lambs sent to the slaughter, but at the pundits who have been told by Anura Tennekoon that the guys need to be given to bat on fast, bouncy wickets and A. T. got as far as getting his view in print in the Daily News about 3 or 4 years ago! SInce then Nada -nothing has been done, but alas it frustrates me because there is a lot that can be done and there is a solution. It just can’t be conveyed to the pundits at the helm because they don’t give ear. The have never heard the terms “Let me bounce it off the wall at you” or “think outside the box”. So until they do, don’t pin it on the batsmen for going out “whoosh” for 43! Reminds me of sitting on the throne withan upset tummy!
    These SLCricket’s administrators! Grrrr!

  29. Fire Dilshan and have Mervin Silva take over the captaincy.There would be absolute unity, a signature of Sinhala patriotism. No district basis though!

  30. jey i wish you and your family a happy pongal and to our regular contributors to this blog.

    Thank you.Wish you the same……….DBSJ

  31. This is all a Obama lead Western conspiracy to bring the great nation Sri Lanka down !!!!!!! Kill cricket, kill Sri Lanka.
    (surprised no one has come up with this line as yet !!!)

  32. Thanks TRN. I agree, Chandimal is way too early… but we have to train someone for the leadership to be taken over in couple of years. Angelo is highly touted, but extremely injury prone, which effects his “all rounder” ability. IF he cannot bowl, his place in the test team simply as a batsmen can also be questioned… (although he did perform well lately along with Thilan). So that’s why I mentioned Chandimal. But you are right, may be we should let him develop first and find someone else… who, other than Angelo is the question!

  33. Thanks Poll Poll… You are right, what many SL fans do not realize is that in the past we have had excellent Captain/V.Captain duos who worked well on and off the field. Usually in other teams V.C is always a threat for the Capt to take over, which creates another issue…i.e India, where the Captains were never really supported. This did not happen with Arjuna/Aravinda or Mahela/Sanga as they backed each other up on and off the field, as they were good friends. This is another thing we are missing right now with the team.

  34. Chandradeva, you are right on couple of points… that Sanath has an ongoing issue with MJ & Kumar for not picking him for the WC. He works behind the scene to bring them down which is another issue I did not mention on my post, simply because some of Sana’s fans hate to hear it. Don’t get me wrong, to me Sanath was the best in the world in his hey day, but he was another cricketer who didn’t know to leave when he is on top… besides he is a politician now! But it’s a fact people refuse to see, and differentiate from his brilliance in batting. You are also correct about Dilshan being close to Namal, and why he got the captaincy. BUT, Kumar was not forced to resign, he simply quit out of disgust. It is a fact I know very well.. They wanted him to continue, but he refused along with Mahela at the time. I would’t say these two are not supporting Dilshan, but there is some rift because I hear player agents are now influencing the selection, through Sana/Namal/Duleep and of course the Captain. I do not think this bodes well with any of the seniors… hence they probably stay away from giving leadership tips etc. But you are right… BLOODY POLITICIANS!!!!

  35. I don’t think racism is an issue here what so ever… thankfully SL cricket had stayed out of such notions, and the best example is the world’s best bowler period, our beloved Murali!!!

  36. I have to say Noel, you raise an excellent point. Something that I had often wondered my self… why both INDIA and SL do not change their strategy and make some grassy bouncy wickets. It’s almost sheer stupidity to not let our bowlers train on them for one things, but also the batsmen get the much needed time facing the short ball. Okay, one can argue that if we created “green tops” as they are called, that we would close the home court advantage. But can we not make at least couple of turfs for our boy to practice, play some games and not to host any visiting overseas teams. I am sure we can find a suitable climate in the hill country to do this. I am sure the AUSIES & others must have some flat track in their part of the world that their guys gets to practice before they come to SL. Is it that hard for our administrators to figure this out or at least listen to some experts like Tennekoon.

    As much as I hate to admit, I think even Kumar & Mahela’s techniques are effected by the flat pitches specially playing the IPL style cricket. The best example of this is Aravinda. Lot of people forget that he was called “mad max”, because he used to go nuts in the middle, play the wrong shot, pull & hook the wrong deliveries and get out specially at the beginning of his career. Then came his COUNTY stint, where he played couple of seasons in England which made him a totally different player. Although he struggled at the beginning in England, he later topped the batting and if I am not mistaken took his team to win as well. In the process he became a better batsmen, someone who knew how to face the “chin music” on green tops. Just imagine how he would have ended up if IPL was there during his time? Probably richer, but with less consistency and legend he created. I think Kumar & Sanga should have opted for sometime to play in a county setting, and foregone the lucrative IPL money. But one cannot blame them also since Cricket is their livelihood and SL board & sponsors pay much less compared to other national sides. So why do the Ausies who also play IPL do better outside of the T20 arena? It’s simply because when they finish the IPL they come back to their countries and play their premier league matches on “green tops”, which gives them time to adjust. Where as our guys come back to the flat pitches which gives you this kinds of results..

    So I agree with Noel, we need to change right from the top. Think ahead and play smart… make some bouncy pitches for our boys and see them reach the top!

  37. I would vote for Angelo !
    He got talent & a team man.
    Injury prone is not a issue but an excuse.
    Arjuna when he was the captain was never fit… he couldn;t even complete the run !!

  38. Mr. or MS.Denagamage-Thank you for your acknowledgement.
    Let me clarify my position and give my logic in point form to be brief.
    1.India and Sri Lanka must retain home ground advantage and not build fast bouncy wickets to play visiting International teams.
    2.Build fast bouncy wickets to practice on.
    3.The concept I have has nothing to do with teaching Sri Lanka’s prominent cricketers other than give them the tools they need to end the splurge of getting out cheaply on fast bouncy tracks.
    4.The concept if implemented correctly will give Sri Lanka the ability to take away the advantage when Sri Lanka meets teams with experience playing in conditions favourable to them.
    5.Sri Lanka’s cricketers are wristy, courages and possess immense talent and ability-the concept I have will simply enhance this natural talent and give them the experience ahead of time and the ability to master batting on fast bouncy wickets with bowler taller than 6′ 4″ tearing down at them.
    6.The concept must be implemented now with time to master and adjust to be ready for the ICC World Cup in 2015.
    7.Finally, the proper planning and implementation will produce a team that will win the 2015. Worl Cup not by propaganda or words, but by pure ability!

    This requires the men at the helm to come up with their own plan or hear out someone who has had it for nearly 12 years with no one at SLC who wanted to hear me out. They will spend handsomely on a foreign coach without innovation, but not listen to what is being offered as a solution with no money required.
    So, there is saddness to see the cricketers being blamed rather than tooling them to face the alien conditions with no chance of adjusting in time! If you understand my plea (I think it is a plea), please don’t lay blame on the players, encourage the persons running the show to listen to the concept, plan and implement as it requires project management.

  39. You have no objection from me about Angelo… but fitness this day and age is an issue, unlike the Arjuna era. Even Ara was not the fastest on the field, which everyone overlooked at the time. Not anymore. What I meant by his injuries was that he came to the team as an all rounder, not just as a specialist batsman. Until this last couple of tests, he did not do well with the bat in tests and if he wasn’t fit to bowl, then his all rounder ability is in question. However I have a feeling he may decide to concentrate more on the batting (which has shown with the scores he put up) and slowly let go off the bowling part, which is where his injury effects. Other than that he does everything well, very intelligent young cricketer, who’ll do well leading a team!

  40. Cricket should not be sponsored by the Sri lankan government. Let the wealthy people of the nation run the colonial cricket.

    The government must use the money for other purposes. Fishing, farming, rehabilitation and other projects need more money and attention. To give employment for 15 people, tax payers not to spend millions!

  41. The Minister for Sports has called on the newly elected Chairman for his strategic report within 7 days. Lets hope that he will use his insight to get results by taking in a wider spectrum rather than doing the good old “same same” when planning for the future and developing new strategies.

    I am glad to know that I have at least one other (Denagamage)who has understood the problem faced by Sri Lanka’s frontline batsmen. Had Sri Lanka been playing in India or Bengladesh there would not have been a splurge of wicket falling cheap because conditions would have been friendly and not hostile. The Sri Lankan cricketers always adjust, but by the time they do, the series is lost and just may be a face saving game is won to keep administrators content if not happy. They must be tooled and the solution is there for those who take heed. – Sincerely, Noel

  42. 7. Should read World not Worl.
    PS: I am quite confident that if what is requred is done right and done soon, we will be ready and with the immense talent and guts our youngmen have they will shock the Aussies on their most favourable wickets-the Gaba and Waca in 2015. The question that will remain until answered is “Will SLC get it right?”. Let’s hope…

  43. I know that Tharanga is batting pretty well at the moment. But honestly, how many of you guys think that Mahela should open in ODIs as he does in T20s? His stats as an opener are unbelievable! In JUST 11 Games he’s opened for Sri Lanka, he has scored 3 hundreds and 2 fifties, and averages 61.80. As a middle order batsmen (#4) he average around 35, and even lower at #5 (his current position). Now, if you look at his T20 stats, he averages 29 at #4, and ever since he started opening as a regular for Sri Lanka in T20s, of the 12 innings he opened, he averages 51.20.
    These are some astonishing stats!

  44. I agree with noel goonesekera that the main problem is in the fast bouncy pitches of australia and south africa.On these pitches you cannot be a front foot player as indians and srilankans are. You have to go on the backfoot and play,and if you do that you should know to read the late swing.

    So how to fix this problem.You can’t change the batting technique that easily after as a schoolboy you have batted on pitches that are tailormade for front foot strokes.My suggestion is to make fifty percent of all pitches whether it is schools or clubs or international stadiums,or practice pitches hard and bouncy.This will make our boys versatile players backfoot as well as front.

    Another problem is we and the indians are always trying to match the non asian boys with our own pacies.That will not work because genetically they are taller and stronger.We have the spinners such as herath, ajantha mendis,suraj randiv,but we only go with one of them and the rest pace.We may have more unknown talent too but they willbe disheartened because how to find a place in the side when you play only one spinner.Those days kaluperuma,DS de silva and ajith desilva,all played together as did bishenbedi,chandresekar,erapalli prassanna and venketaraghavan.Abid ali and eknath solkar used to come into the scene just to use up the new ball for india.we of course had two good pacies kehelgamuwa and opatha,but that was it.This onslaught of spinners from both ends non stop troubled the non asian batsmen,as they spun their web tighter and tighter and got the wicket.It takes longer to get a wicket than a pacie crashing through,but nevertheless the runs are kept down and the game is won anyway.Now after moving towards pace and devaluing spin,both india and srilanka are in all sorts of trouble.Have at least 2 spinners in the side and two pacies.This gives equal weightage for both.

    In otherwords do what you are good at instead of trying to do something in which someone else has a comparative advantage.

  45. This comment about bouncy pitches, i’m not an expert on this area. however from the wee bit I know isn’t the type soil that changes the pitch? The amount of grass too matters.

    The ground in Dambulla was very good for bowlers. what happened to this international stadium? Our cricketers can practice at this ground.

  46. Hi Noel… it’s Mr. and not Ms..lol! Anyway thanks for your kind remarks, and I agree with all your assessments, which shows that you are very knowledgable in Cricket, probably with first hand experience playing it! Cheers!

  47. Shankar, you raise some good points. the only think I kind of do not agree is the comparison between Indian & our SL bowlers, specially physically. Other than Kapil Dev India hasn’t produced any extra ordinary fast bowler, or someone with super pace. I think you may have meant to refer to Pakistani players, who are much taller & physically fit (Pathans lineage). It shows that they have always produced speedy pacies but also bowlers who can swing it well. This is what most of boys need to try and do… learn to swing the ball. Vassi is a prime example of someone who was excellent at this, and at the moment only Kulasekera can really do this. Malinga of course is an exceptional bowler who has the speed, reverse swing, variation and knows how to set up batsmen. If we have bouncy green pitches to practice on I am 100% sure our guys will figure out how to do this… in the process our batsmen will work out that kinks of having to play on the back foot. So some change in our thinking & strategy will do wonders for the future.

  48. Well, since my last post some wheels have started churning back in SL with the selectors being sacked. This was a right move towards fixing the problem, may be even entice Mahela to take up the job. BUT, I wonder if Asantha De Mel is the right person for this position. He has been in SLC before and his track record doesn’t bode well, and is known more of a political pawn. Besides how is he going to work with his batting coach Marvan (who’s rumoured to be the only coach retained) who called him a “JOKER” when he was pushed out of the team. The other rumour is that Duleep would come back as the manager. To me this is just musical chairs with the same actors changing seats. If this happens it could end up being a “from the frying pan, to the fire” kind of move. If I were Mahela, I would think twice before accepting the position under these circumstances, as there won’t be much he could do. We may not lose as bad as we did under Dilshan, but we won’t win & get better either. I do not know what the reason is to drop Tennekoon who is a gentleman, and not a pawn. but if a change is needed why not think of Brendan Kuruppu who did well before.

    Playing the devils advocate here… let’s say that De Mel’s move might work, and given his blown relationship with Marvan I would look into changing the batting coach and bring back Avishka Gunawardene, who I think did a lot with our “A” team development. He was let go for some silly reason like returning to SL during a tour, to get read to go for a coaching clinic in Australia (ironically I believe De Mel was in SLC at the time.. not sure). Whoever we all know that Sanga places him highly for his batting performances and it could do wonders to the team. It will also give more time for Marvan to work with youngsters and get some experience in coaching. He was recruited to the coaching position straight after he retired, and no matter how good a batsmen he is, coaching and conveying the tips to players is a different matter. Just because you were the best batsmen doesn’t make you the best coach, and Avishka is a good example, as he has turned out to be excellent coach having been a decent bat.

    There’s also a rumour that the coach would also be dropped. Although it is unfair to drop Marsh for the failure of the team, it can also be a good thing because our next tour is to Australia, where his son is playing for the opponents. There was a rumour that either during UK or UAE tour, he was a bit more preoccupied with his son’s batting & Australia’s matches. So this could work out best for us. I don’t know much about the new SA coach that apparently Sanath recommended. may be he is good, but the fact that it came from a politicians, who does have a grudge against the 2 senior players & supposedly future skipper, does bring up some question.

    The idea situation would have been for us to have someone like Ara back in the selection team. If not someone like Sidath who is known to be a decent bloke with the well being of the game in his heart. We need to find other former players like Kaluwitarana who can come in and give some new ideas, and put in ned changes. He was someone Thilan recently credited for his training before the SA tour. I am sure there are lot of such talented people who could re-energize the SL cricket, if only the political agenda is not in place. That is something we can only dream of!

  49. Madhawa, you are right, Mahela’s record as an opener is amazing. But I would rather keep Tharanga as a partner for MJ and drop Dilshan down the order. Here’s are my 2 MAIN reasons: First off we will keep the left right combo, which can only help us. Secondly Dilshan flourished when he opened most because his attacking style suited with the NEW ball which is harder and easier to hit (provided no huge swing). The argument before was that when Dilshan is dropped down to say # 4/5/6 the ball is older and he loses that advantage… Well, not anymore as there are 2 NEW balls in ODI now and also batting power plays towards the end. Dilshan could still come in and do his fireworks!

  50. Just a small correction on the above post… I believe I may have mixed up Chandika Hathurusinghe’s name with Avishka Gunawardene. I was referring to our former batting coach who is responsible for so many young batting talent! My bad!

  51. I am no expert either, but I think it all depends on the groundsman and how he’s “asked” to prepare a pitch. yes the soil & weather does help, but I think our SLC management may have pushed the groundsman to prepare wickets that are more suitable for our “so called” spin advantage. But you are right, that and Asgiriya could be perfect to create some bouncy pitches… if only SLC views that our future needs it!

  52. dengamage

    This is what most of boys need to try and do… learn to swing the ball.
    Are you saying that non asians can’t swing the ball? If we can learn it they can learn it too.In the current series hilfenhaus is swinging the ball so much that the indian batsmen are just nicking it or getting LBW.Look at his height and build.He is bowling at least 5-10 kmh faster than the indians and swinging more than even zaheer khan.Whatever we do,they will do better at fast bowling.Only hope is spin for us.We are playing only one spinner,though we have many world class ones,but we have to give them long bowls at least 50 overs an innings to develop their skills and get experience.We are not doing that.After bowling murali till his arms nearly drop off,now we have started on herath.He also would not have got a chance though he is bowling so well unless murali had retired,fortunately for him.Seekuge prassanna also needs long bowls and match practice as the talent is there.

  53. TRN

    I’am also not an expert on how to prepare pitches,but commonsense tells me if hong kong can build an airport from the sea,soil should not be a problem even if we have to import it,to prepare fast bouncy pitches.After all it is not the grounds that you have to prepare,only the pitch which is about 22 feet in lengh and 6 feet at the most in width.As for grass,there is synthetic grass too.In western countries there are lawns with these.Everything is synthetic nowadays.You might get highly excited sqeezing a breast,little realising that you are just squeezing a lump of silicon.

  54. Denagamage

    I doupht whether mahela likes to open.Most batsmen are very fickle about opening.Thilan samaraweera flatly refused to open in tests and got into the bad books of the management.Afridi also refused.Better ask mahela first.He may have opened just as a favour because they did not have anyone at that time.kapugedera maybe could be tried out as a opener.I remember when he opened,he clouted even brett lee for a six with the new ball.Subsequently he never got a chance after that.Our selectors are weird and eccentric.Sometimes you do well and they pretend to have amnesia.The whole bunch should be kicked out and people like micheal tissera,neil chanmugam,bandula warnapura etc,those
    with some commonsense should be brought as selectors.Last world cup final,vaas should definitely have played.The outcome may have been different,because that was one of his favourite grounds.

    I agree with you that tharanga has blossomed into a very good opener and should be retained.In fact i’am surprised that they have not tried him out for the tests,i’am sure he will do well.

  55. dengamage

    [I wonder if Asantha De Mel is the right person for this position.]
    certainly not.An idiot who lost us billions in the petroleum corporation hedging deal.A jack of all trades and master of none.

    As for aravinda,i don’t think he should be brought back.At the last world cup he should have played vass in all the matches.Vaas was doing much better in the domestic tournaments than kulasekera.Is this guy blind or something he could not see those figures.he tries to be too smart,trying to show off his cricketing knowledge,but does not have common sense or a brain.he and ashantha de mel are in same boat,don’t have a brain.World cupsquad should have included suraj randiv,but he was just flown out for the final without any match practice.To justify his non inclusion in the squad aravinda was imparting his great knowlede of cricket with his left arm bowler etc,but flew him out suddenly for the final,bloody eccentric.

  56. yeah Ramesh is right… some great players prefer just to what they are good at and leave it to others to lead a team. Even Aravinda did not go after the captaincy. Actually it’s mark of their greatness, knowing that just because you are great at either bowling or batting, does not transfer it to be a good captain or even a coach. This is something many forget!

  57. About Aravinda, I believe he is NOT the one responsible for the wholesale changes done for the Final. If you read my very first post here, you will note that I mentioned that the situation at the WC final is questionable, and also he resigned along with Kumar & Mahela, which felt more like a statement to me. Yes, you are right Vassi should have been selected for the team from the beginning, but if you remember at the time Sanath was also included in the original selection squad. If he selected Vassi, there was always going to be a question or an opening for Sanath to also be included, at least requested by the top/politicians etc. I think there was pressure to that aspect and I believe it was a tactical move by Ara to not select Vassi for this reason. BUT if you remember he trained him as the first choice for replacement bowler, which he didn’t do with Sanath. He may have expected to get Vassi in before the final, but we were doing so well without him, and probably didn’t want to mess with a winning combination… until of course the final which I strongly believe was forced on him & the captains! Reason as I mentioned we may never know!

  58. Definitely not against Murali. His reputation as a true gentleman has never been questioned. But I think his very talkative, good natured personality could be easily manipulated by the corrupt part of the SLC. Also I highly wonder if he would want it… at least not with the current political pressures & pawns to deal with. Same with Mahela, who has personally said he may not get involved in SL cricket after he retires, simply for this reason. I think Sidath too stays in the background as he know he will have to either play the political game or be kicked out by them. I am sure there are tons of great cricketing brains in SL who do not want to be involved with corruption & politics of SL cricket.

  59. TRN – your remark Hong Kong can build airprts into the sea from sea soil caught my attention. Here is why.

    A Sri Lankan civil engineer was the project manager on the Hing Kong runway into the sea. I knew him as a teenager. He passed his ‘O’level, all 8 subjects offered with Distictions (8D’s) and his ‘A’ Level. 4 subjects with ‘A’s and lectured after the 1st year of University. He was grabbed by Japan, and he is now fully international working on major project as and when he is needed. I stay in touch with him.

  60. Hi Denagamage,
    I am sorry to have not been able to know your gender through your name,which I assumed to be a surname. I did not think it was right to presume, because had I been wrong you may have felt offended by my being presumtuous. Thank you for enlightening me.
    I did play U14, U16, 2nd XI, & 1st XI, but my school cricket was cut short by a drunken coach asking my father for money. My father gave him hell, and the coach told me that I’ll never play again! He booted me from the team.
    A decade went by before I played cricket again in the U.A.E. Having been a founding member of a good team, I was a team man who did my part, but my team had frontline players who were ahead of me in position to bat and bowl. I made up the 11 and batted at #8 and was called upon to bowl on occassion, as the team had 4 seamers and 2 high quality spinners. However, when I strode with a few overs left I scored swiftly and when called to bowl I broke up partnerships.
    My team would come to the semi-finals lose or to the final and lose when a win should have been the result. I saw this occur 3 years in a row. That’s when I started thinking cricket. I narrowed down the opposition to the 2 teams that would beat us and did an analysis of every game and gathered some statistical data. It showed me the difference in batting and bowling between them and us. I knew then that we had to be innovative and up our game. I made a pitch to my skipper who was surrounded by 5 “senior” players who would have their own inner circle, and unfortunately my concept was not taken seriously.
    I then decided do it myself, although I wanted the entire pool to embrace the idea. Well, 30 days later my skipper sauntered over to me after I had torn into our frontline bowlers and asked me to tell him how I lifted mt game. I did, and in the next few days concept was adopted for all and we won the premier league finals in ’83, ’84 and ’85! The other side even imported 1st class “pool” players from Pakistan to boost their strength in ’84 & ’85 and we still won. I was a member of the team in all 3 years. I, ’86 I was dropped and I moved into the 2nd string and batted at the fall of the 1st wicket and had a blast! I enjoyed every moment. I also captained the 2nd string team. The 1st string team had younger new blood and all really good players, but the powers decided to change the concept I introduced and brought their own slant into it. What they forgot was that the quality diminished, and the othersides adopted the concept once they found out what made us a winning combination for 3 consecutive years. From then on I have paid close attention to our national side play and started to observe their strengths and weaknesses. I saw the problem they faced on fast bouncy wickets around 2001 and thought on how we can be innovative and overcome. I got the concept and tried to pass it along and wrote to many who I thought had Sri Lanka Cricket’s best interest at heart. I asked that they communicate in private, but the many did not. So more than a decade went by and I saw us crumble on certain fast bouncy wickets. I have great confidence that if our players are given the tooling they need, comine their talent with their courage and determination (seen in S.A. 4th and 5th ODI) they will shock the rest of the world by winning the 50 over World Cup 2015 downunder! To get there the innovations are needed, but I can only hope that the new men in SLC have them in their insights. Take care and keep well. Do keep encouraging our team, but don’t expect too much on this tour as they will be troubled by Australia at Brisbane and
    Perth. They will hold their own in Sydney & Melbourne, but I am unfamiliar with Tasmania and Adelaide wickets. If they are not as fast and bouncy we will be fine. Best Wishes to you and all the genuine cricket fans. Thank you Mr. D B S Jeyaraj for the many interesting topics you bring to your column and for opening it for dialogue.

  61. Now// this is the problem succumb to politics ah?

    The cricketing brains of SL should come together in good faith to uplift the game above corruption & politics.

    What have they got to lose . Sidath, Madugalle, Aravinda, Murali, Vass…. List is long.

    If we want our country to progress we should get rid of the corrupt politics. How can that be done by being mere spectators ?

    Kumar came out boldly and took a stand against corruption. I admire him for doing so. Then why aren’t the other giants rallying around him to take forward the mission?

  62. Sorry for the delay replying to yours… been busy a bit. What I meant to say was the bouncy wickets require different set of skills to bowl. One has to hit the deck hard (like Dilhara does, but with better control) and not the skidding type we currently bowl which the opposition has no problem facing. Our cricketers are the most naturally talented in the world. All they need is the right conditions to blossom like a bouncy green top wickets to practice and both our batsmen & bowlers will benefit immensely. As you can see we improved a lot towards the end of SA tour as we got used to the conditions and players were able to adjust accordingly. This is what we need to give them at home, before leaving on tours.

  63. Thanks Noel.. interesting to note that we both have similar stories with cricket, especially at the early stages in school. I do know first hand how favouritism & influence work, as I have been at the other end of it. But it did not discourage me, and like have continued with cricket throughout my life. Also noted your other post about your engineer friend who was involved in the Hong Kong Air Port. Unfortunately this kind of brain drain happens in every field, including cricket where some of best minds are not used. Just remembered one instance that directly connects to your green top, bouncy wicket. I won’t mention names but I am sure you might know who I am referring to. When Khettarama was built, the curator/adviser for the pitch was a former all Ceylon cricketer, one of the first to play in England. I was told one of his ideas were to create such a pitch, with pace & bounce. Apparently the then SLC brains have had other ideas, and he was promptly removed, and another wicket was prepared, that resulted in one of the slowest, dead wickets to play cricket. Since then it was re-laid in recent times, along with the re-naming it as RPS, but this is just one instance we had the opportunity, and people who thought ahead towards the future, but was stopped by others who were short sighted. So I am not surprised at all that in 2001 your advice was also shelved the same way… it’s sad, but that’s the reality in SL cricket!

    Now that Mahela has taken the reigns, and Charith as the manager & Ford as a coach… I hope SL will find some stability where youngsters can improve and take over from the seniors within an year or so. I am hoping Mahela would find his form, and if not he would stick to his word at the press conference, that he should first be in form to be selected for the team, and not because of his position as the Captain. In the past he has been a man of his word, and I don’t expect him to do anything different this time either. We may not win the triangular series, but a good showing, winning a few encounters, and may be reaching the final would do wonders for the team confidence!

    Cheers & good luck to you & other fans of SL cricket on this forum, & a big thanks to DBSJ for his work!

  64. Noel Goonesekera says:

    The Minister for Sports has called on the newly elected Chairman for his strategic report within 7 days. Lets hope that he will use his insight to get results by taking in a wider spectrum rather than doing the good old “same same” when planning for the future and developing new strategies.

    You really think that this minister is capable of even reading this report?

    Just tell me what are his qualifications to make strategic planning for the future of cricket/sports of SL?

    If the minister & his uneducated, inexperienced and corrupt stooges keep away from our national sports, the experts can work out strategic plan.

    Only if only we could get rid of this ‘pea brained’ politicos from the helm of administration we could have made longer strides.

  65. Hi Denagamage,
    I agree with your view. I have confidence that Mahela will find his form. His pie charted stats with percentage on how he had got out was interesting to review. If SLC adopts the real time simulation in training he will reduce the being caught percentage, and may also reduce the being bowled and being LBW. He most certainly will reduce the being caught. Whether they will is left to be seen.

    I too wish them well and a good showing they will give. They are a gritty bunch.

    I would like to stay in touch with you Please email noel@35walmer.com to stay in touch. Thanks.-Noel

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