Too many cooks spoil the broth for Sri Lanka

After Australia's 2004 tour of the island, the then captain Hashan Tillakaratne was forced to step down; will Tillakaratne Dilshan suffer the same fate after this Australian tour?

By Ranjan Paranavithana

Tillakaratne DilshanSeptember 11, 2011 (Island cricket): There is no doubt the Australian cricket team on tour in Sri Lanka is the weakest one we have seen for some time. This side lacks the bowlers in the caliber of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, and batsmen like Adam Gilchrist and Mathew Hayden. Out of the present lot, only Ponting and Clarke are capable batsmen against spinners.

Their Test squad included two rookie spinners Nathan Lyon and Michael Beer. The latter is yet to play in the series. But Lyon, a Brisbane groundsman, has already played in two matches, and made a huge impression. At Galle, he exposed Sri Lanka’s vulnerability against spin. He snapped Kumar Sangakkara with his very first ball and hasn’t looked back since. Lyon grabbed five and restricted Sri Lanka to 103 in the first innings.

That was the main reason for Sri Lanka’s loss at Galle. A further 100 runs in the first innings would have made the difference for Sri Lanka. Our batsmen are responsible for Sri Lanka’s undoing, they gifted their wickets to Lyon. At a time when Lyon was going great guns, Sri Lanka’s offie Suraj Randiv, who was hailed as the next best thing after Muttiah Muralitharan, struggled on a spin-friendly wicket.

The Galle wicket was a challenge for batsmen, as puffs of dust were visible on the first day itself. Although Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews learnt the art of scoring runs on that wicket in the second innings, it came too late. Before them, Mike Hussey and Clarke showed everyone how to score runs, and put the match beyond Sri Lanka’s reach.

The selectors too contributed to the loss. They kept away Ajantha Mendis, who had already started troubling the Aussies during the T20 series. Not playing the mystery spinner was a big blunder. Another blunder of our think-tank was seen in the preparation of wickets. They advocated for slow wickets to nullify the threat of Australian batsmen. But they failed to note that Sri Lanka lacked a bowler like Muralitharan who could bowl out the opposition batsmen twice. A 50-50 wicket would have more suited the Sri Lankans, who could have gone on to win both the ODI and Test series.

The Lankan batsmen love a wicket where the ball comes to the bat nicely, and even our bowlers do well on such wickets. That’s how we won the ODI series in Australia.

Some argue that Angelo Mathews should be the next captain. But as the vice captain of the team, he should first prove that he is a responsible batsman. In the first innings at Galle, he played a rash shot against Lyon and got out. The same mistake was seen even during the ODI series as well. In the second innings, however, he played a responsible innings.

At Pallekele, during the second Test,  he got a half century, but soon after sacrificed his wicket. Mathews could have done well to add at least 50 more runs with the last two batsmen. He even evaded the media who had wanted to talk to him on the first day. It’s clear that there is a lot more for him to learn, if he wants to captain the country one day.

Thilan Samaraweera too has failed to show any consistency. Since the tour of England, in eight innings, he has scored only one half century.

The last time Australia toured Sri Lanka, Hashan Tillakaratne captained the country. But as a batsman, he had to do the bulk of scoring, as other seniors failed to deliver the goods - Sri Lanka lost all three matches. That too after gaining advantage in all three first innings. The seniors in the team then didn’t help Hashan with their inconsistent batting. This scenario can be seen even now as Dilshan captains the team. At the end of that series, Hashan came close to resigning from captaincy; will Dilshan suffer the same fate?

The Australians seem to have got everything right when it comes to taking decisions. They have a handful of people to do so. But for Sri Lanka, there seem to be many hands. We see, the selection committee, coaches and their assistants all having a hand in selections and preparation for matches. One cannot but think about the saying that too many cooks spoil the broth.

So, to raise the head again, the team spirit should be brought back, unnecessary people who influence team decisions should be removed, and the captain and the coach should be given freedom to act.

Ranjan Paranavithana is the coach of Baduraliya Cricket Club and the former sports editor of the Lakbima newspaper in Sri Lanka.

© Ranjan Paranavithana


Anonymous's picture

Still there is a question why sri lankan cricket dropped chandimal, atapattu thinks he chandimal has a issue in his stance,but he scored runs than most of the batters with that and those batsmen in the team according to him got a right stance keep failing in every match,,, there is no clear policy in selecting players and i dont see a bright sri lankan cricket future,,if selectors act like this. sanga,mahela,thilan,dilshan they all will retire at the same time and in that day sri lankan cricket will be the weakest team in the world,even weaker than bangaladesh..

Anonymous's picture

Why make a big deal of "Cricket"? Its only a game and should be played for enjoyment. A loss here and a win there should be part
of the agenda. Are we all loosing the plot?

picodef's picture
Member since:
15 April 2010
Last activity:
3 years 3 weeks

Well,if there is a technical fault with his stance, Chandimal will need to correct it before getting in to Test cricket..Suresh Raina & Virat Kohli have both excelled in the shorter formats of cricket,yet have failed miserably in the longer format..even Yuvraj Singh has struggled in the longer format..having said that,yes selectors do need to think of replacements for the Senior top order we have..otherwise, we might end up just like West Indies..

dinushajm's picture
Member since:
12 September 2011
Last activity:
6 years 6 weeks

I agree with Mr. Ranjan,

This Cricket board and the unprofessional officials together with craps like Rathnayake who is not even good for school team coach brought this team in to a worse situation as 1999,

This team is completely in disorder at first, Dilshan [my close friend] is not a personality who can lead the team of Sri Lanka at this stage,

Sri Lanka should lead by Sangakara and deputy Angelo is the right selection,

Test team should include Upul Tharanga to open with Paranawithana,

Vass should play in the team for another year or two in professional opinion together with Malainga, Lakmal or Kulasekara,

Even Arjuna made a wrong move in politics he is the right candidate with Aravinda, Mahanama, Atapathu to give coaching experience in reality,

We should not seek foreigners as coaches when we have world class players who brought the Cricket in to Sri Lankan's spirits. the above mention players played with all countries and they are filled with many professional experiences than those lousy coaches come to enjoy and copy our people skills,

Look what Tom Moody did in reality, man has been the coach of all these players and he knows how to tackle the players in their weak points and Australia team from no where in terms of performance and experience rapped up the whole tournament very easily up to date,

Moreover who ever play these matches having many experiences from under 13 to 19 team of school,Club, first class international matches and finally the professional Cricket matches which are played in official format under ICC,

Players should focus in professionalism and the country rather their pay check get in to the bank accounts,

Those who took the role of preparing grounds and wickets are the top class freaks in Sri Lanka,

As we are not knowing this subject we should consult Australian or English professionals who can help in long term basis how to maintain grounds and the wickets for the all formats of the game,

For any concern you can write back to me with regard the above statement,

Wish all Sri Lankan's success,

Anonymous's picture

Evene the Australian are without so many good talemnted players like before still sri lanka is loosing every match. I think Dil;shan is not ready to lead sri lanka, still we need leader like sanga until mathews get bit experience. Rumesh can't be a coach for even one day are you jorking there are lots of talented players sri lanks had in the past, think about why we got a big name for cricket because of the world cup 1996. So still we have the players who played in 1996 it is not very long ago. Please do not mix up with politics to cricket. This is why we have problems.

Ryan's picture
Member since:
20 November 2008
Last activity:
21 weeks 14 hours

Great points in this article.

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