A late spell from Wahab Riaz couldn’t stop Afghanistan from a surprising win in their World Cup warm-up match.
A once proud cricketing nation, Sri Lanka have fallen into a deep abyss and appear powerless to claw their way back from their pathetic plight as the world watches and wonders what has struck them down.
Less than a year ago the rebuilding process appeared to be on course under the watchful eye of South African Graham Ford as the young and inexperienced Sri Lankans, without retired stars Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas and a few others, took on the might of then number one Test team Australia and comprehensively thrashed them 3-0 at home to signal the changing of the guard.
The excitement that was derived from that success was short-lived, however, as Sri Lanka then made a morass of mistakes, appointing a performance manager who apparently interfered with Ford’s coaching style, leaving the South African with no recourse other than to chuck it in and return to his homeland. The result has since been horrendous, to say the least, as the Sri Lankans were held by Bangladesh at home in all three formats and were then beaten in a one-day series by bottom-rung Zimbabwe at home and nearly lost the solitary Test too.
Skipper Angelo Matthews was then made a scapegoat after the Zimbabwean tragedy, and he resigned in disgust at the pressure heaped on him by those responsible for handling cricket affairs distancing themselves from him and the team because of the loss.
This was followed by the ultimate embarrassment when number one seed India toured thereafter and absolutely reduced Sri Lanka cricket to a shambles. Adding insult to injury, some former Indian greats, such as the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, took pot shots at the struggling nation by saying that an Indian provincial side could easily thrash a team like Sri Lanka.
What ails Sri Lanka cricket mystifies their die-hard fans worldwide, but it is clear to see a tunnel-visioned administration appears set to reduce this once talented nation to the depths of despair and ultimate decimation.
It is definitely time for a complete revamp of Sri Lanka’s cricket administration if the game is to prosper once more, although the task of getting at its deepest roots would be challenging.
In fairness, there is plenty of emerging talent at the moment, with the likes of Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya De Silva, Asela Gunerarne, Laksahan Sandakan, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera and a few others showing the hallmarks of greatness for the future, but to play with a team of emerging stars and no direction is certainly not the recipe for success.
If the alarm bells are not sounding loudly in this cricket-mad nation at the moment, they may as well bury their heads in the sand, because it’s time for sanity to prevail and the powers that be to stem the country’s embarrassment, which they and their countless fans have to endure.