There’s been a lot of debate about how India will go into the World Cup, but it’s the nation’s bench strength rather than their playing XI that is prompting these uncertain questions.
Sr Lankan cricket slid into the murky depths of despair after a disastrous Indian invasion that reduced them to a less-than-amateur opposition. The ensuing mental scarring will undoubtedly remain with them for a long, long time.
Thrashed in all formats of the game by a relentless opposition, Sri Lanka’s administration will have a lot of explaining to do to the team’s adoring fans, who are disgusted with the shortsightedness of their planning to fill in the gaps of the retiring superstars, which has left the team with a yawning gap that will take a lot of filling.
Adding to their woes is the departure of South African coach Graham Ford, who was forced to abandon a team he was carefully nurturing into a respectful opposition with the available talent due to meddling by a manager appointed by the cricket board whose only credentials was being a hero in a world cup-winning team more than two decades ago but who had no accomplished coaching skills.
Now, like a ship without a rudder, the team lurches from one thrashing to another. Even minnows such as Afghanistan and Ireland, the latter now being coached by Ford, look capable of beating them if they were to cross paths.
A closer analysis will reveal that there is no lack of talent, just bad management of the available talent, mainly due to the consistent chopping and changing of the team which cannot achieve cohesiveness as a result.
They had a knowledgeable manager in Charith Senanayake, who had fewer credentials in a winning Sri Lankan team but did possess excellent cricketing acumen during his tenure. But politics decreed that these were not the required credentials for the job. The current set up comprises mostly political appointments.
After the Indian debacle, the selection committee has tendered their resignation, leaving the team in more turmoil. But the winds of change may in some ways be a miracle of sorts which may bring in people who have the game and its future at heart.
Playing in home conditions, Sri Lanka had no answer to the Indian onslaught, outplayed in every department of the game. The fact that they struggled to make runs in familiar conditions while the Indians thrived on the toothless Sri Lankan attack and offered almost no resistance in the three formats speaks volumes for the lack of mental preparation and obvious distraction from matters unrelated to cricket.
Upwards and onwards is the only avenue left to Sri Lanka, who by their lack of application will now have to battle the minnows as they seek qualification to the upcoming world cup in 2019.