Hathurusinghe’s task for Sri Lanka revival is compelling

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By Trevine, Trevine is a Roar Pro

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    Chandika Hathurusinghe came as a ‘Messiah’ that would deliver redemption for Sri Lanka Cricket.

    However, his initial foray with a listless team devoid of motivation has reminded Sri Lanka’s cricket fans worldwide that it will take time and patience to turn things around for the once-feared nation.

    Proof of how bad the team has slumped to is in the evidence that former minnows and whipping boys of the game such as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are now looking at the former ‘kings’ of the limited over format with callous disdain as they push them to the verge of elimination in a one-day tri-series in Bangladesh.

    If this tournament was a test of who the new cellar dwellers of the game are, Sri Lanka have by now shown the world a worrying sign that they are incapable of beating anyone on a regular basis. Even Afghanistan may be relishing the opportunity of adding more pain to their battered and bruised reputation.

    Hathurusinghe has, perhaps reluctantly, accepted his role as head coach of a nation renowned for its internal political meddling which has an impact on team selection and the best combinations. It is believed that he has demanded a free hand and no interference with his responsibilities. He has identified key areas where the team has issues and if allowed, may in time be able to reverse some of the frailties that has affected team morale.

    The former Bangladesh coach – who has gained tremendous respect worldwide for what he brings to the game as a coach – has painful memories of his past with Sri Lanka Cricket where as an assistant he was sacked for unknown reasons and spurred on to prove his detractors wrong. He has done this in no uncertain terms taking once minnows Bangladesh to being one of the most feared opponents in the game.

    As Sri Lankan fans vent their spleens in disgust at the team’s current trend, they will do well to remember that many of the greater nations who have played this great game have been through similar stints in the past and have risen from adversity.

    Sri Lanka is certainly not lacking in talent by any stretch of the imagination. Where they are letting themselves down is in their execution which lacks consistency particularly their batting which is the current talking point.

    Seasoned campaigners such as Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera and to an extent former skipper Anglo Matthews have failed to make that next step as successors to Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillekeratne Dilshan who carried Sri Lanka’s batting fortunes for decades until retirement.

    Sri Lankan playersNuwan Kulasekara (left) and Dinesh Chandimal celebrate (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    Inconsistency from the named incumbents is the main reason for Sri Lanka’s pathetic plight. In the one-day squad, only Matthews and Upul Tharanga have been the mainstays in their batting apart from emerging players such as Niroshan Dickwella and Dhananjaya De Silva. Chandimal, and Thisara Perera who promised much as future stars of world cricket have been sadly disappointing in this respect.

    What is clear is that their bowling is as toothless as an aged Lion, and it being the symbol of their nation, queries lie around the talent scouting and coaching of the available talent. There is also the question of whether the best bowers are in the current squad with some outstanding emerging talent being shuttled in and out of the team.

    Another reason for the underperforming Lankans lies in the constant team changes which has definitely impacted on the mindset of the players who are pressured to perform for fear of being discarded if they do not deliver. This is a psychological drawback to young minds and proper counselling channels within the team administration is key to addressing these issues.

    If the gap in the game between the best and the rest is any indication, India’s current flogging by South Africa and England’s hammering by Australia in the Tests are clear indicators of how bad Sri Lanka are after their demolition by the Indians at home and away recently.

    Patience, experience and a sensible game plan by the new coaching staff need to be backed up by execution, and to achieve this the new men at the helm will have their work cut out toinstilconfidence and proper work ethic in the inexperienced line-up as they attempt to claw their way back to where they were in the Sangakkara, Jayawardena, Jayasuriya, Dilshan, Vaas and Muralitharan era.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • January 21st 2018 @ 9:24am
      Paul said | January 21st 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

      Hathurusinghe “has taken once minnows Bangladesh to be one of the most feared opponents in the game”. I agree they have a couple of world class players in their side and, at home, are not easy to beat but you’re pushing a long bow if you think the top sides “fear” them. Have respect – for sure, but fear…….

      As an outsider with no inside knowledge, there are three things that Sri Lanka needs to do. The first is to acknowledge they are no longer a top Test, ODI or T20 side – for the tie being. This will come as a blow because they have been steadily improving since coming into the top tier of cricket, and this is the first time they have slid backwards. This happens to all Test playing nations but it’s the first time it’s happened in Sri Lanka, so is hard to take.

      The second thing they need to do is simple – decide how they want to move forward and stick to the plan. Again, the author has pointed out the many changes made to players, coaches, etc, none of which will help produce a stable, winning side. If I was in charge, I’d go back to developing a strong ODI side, which is how Sri Lanka rose through the ranks over the past 25 years. Once this side is settled, it will win games because there is plenty of talent in Sri Lanka.

      The final thing they need to do is lower expectations, at least for the time being. Identify the sides you should beat and win these games. Try and play as many games at home as you can against quality opposition. Avoid Test matches, where possible, against the stronger nations away from home ( playing India in India might be good for the revenus but right now, the side will get a hiding).

      Above all, develop the next crop of Jayawardenas, Vaas, etc, by not throwing them in at the deep end. Sri Lankan cricket will come good, it will just take patience. Hopefully, the powers that be over there will have enough of that.

      • January 21st 2018 @ 8:32pm
        Trevine said | January 21st 2018 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

        Hey Paul with respect to your cricketing knowledge, there are certain aspects of Sri Lanka cricket that are not your field of understanding or expertise. Bangladesh may not be feared as you make out. Give them decent exposure in Australia, England and South Africa and you will be surprised at how much they have developed as a force. Because of their former status as minnows the so called top sides deny them of an equal opportunity not proving themselves at the highest level. As for Sri Lanka, yes, I agree they need time to regroup after the loss of their superstars of the past. But this is the least of their worries due to other internal issues that continue to undermine their progress.

    • January 21st 2018 @ 7:37pm
      DavSA said | January 21st 2018 @ 7:37pm | ! Report

      Keeping a cricket nation strong does not start with the national team. That side is an outcome of structures , coaching and development . England , Australia and South Africa in particular have got it spot on . India and Pakistan by sheer weight of numbers can find good cricketers . Imagine if India had the structures from junior level that say South Africa has what they can produce. I can only talk from an SA perspective but 20 years ago Dr Ali Bacher in particular together with Steve Tshwete and Kaya Majola recognized this and began these processes . Only Ali is still alive but our cricketing community is deeply indebted to them. By the way I follow zimbabwe cricket as a close neighbour with interest and they are fast becoming a very decent side.

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      January 21st 2018 @ 10:26pm
      Rafiqul Ameer said | January 21st 2018 @ 10:26pm | ! Report

      They seemed to have recovered well today. looks like they are heading for a comfortable victory against Zim . They should try to improve their net run rate situation which might become vital later on.

    • January 21st 2018 @ 10:43pm
      DavSA said | January 21st 2018 @ 10:43pm | ! Report

      Zimbabwe are benefiting from a co-operative relationship with SA Cricket , a body which understands 3rd World conditions better than any . They are a work in progress and If I had to pin my colours to a mast I will predict that outside of the traditional tier 1 cricketing nations they have a far better chance of stepping up to the next level than teams the likes of Ireland , The Netherlands etc will ever have and imo will soon , say next 2 years be challenging Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for elite honours. If I am correct this will be fantastic for regional cricket in Southern Africa , African cricket in general and I might add world cricket as a whole. Australia will be playing a once off warm up game in Zimbabwe prior to the SA series. Hold onto your hats.

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        January 21st 2018 @ 11:08pm
        Rafiqul Ameer said | January 21st 2018 @ 11:08pm | ! Report

        Really good to know that there is so much cooperation is going on between SA and Zim cricket. Ban cricket got big help from it’s neighbors India, Pak and SL in the developing stages. Interestingly, the biggest help came from the Lankan cricketers who played club cricket regularly and helped in improving the playing standards here and also helped in developing professional culture among Bangladeshi cricketers.

        • January 22nd 2018 @ 12:46am
          DavSA said | January 22nd 2018 @ 12:46am | ! Report

          For what it is worth Rafiqul I through cricket got involved years ago with a strong cricketing family on the South Coast of Natal . The matriarch of the family was a terrific club cricketer and only Apartheid denied him higher honours . In my conversations with him he revealed that his family prior to enforced slave removal to SA were Sri Lankan . What makes it even more interesting is that he belongs to the same close fraternity as Hashim Amla .

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