Limited overs specialists struggling in the most familiar formats

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Sri Lanka have always been considered a very good limited Overs team and an average Test side. This had to do with the types of unorthodox players produced by SL over years. Whether it be Sanath , Murali , Malinga , Ajantha Mendis or Dilshan , all were players who had huge impact in the game due to their uniqueness.. But these types of players are not made, they are not coached to play the way they did by anyone... They just spring out of nowhere and its lucky if one can have them. Nobody can wait for such players to come and turn the tide over.. We have to get used to not having them...

But recent results clearly show that suddenly, within a matter of months the balance has shifted.. Sl don't seem to be such a good limited Overs side at all and their test performances have been considerably better.. What has happened?? Is it because of the retirements of many important players?? Possible but highly unlikely.. The problem is not so simple... It has to do a lot with the evolution of cricket... SL , one of the most innovative cricketing nation is guilty of being too old fashioned... Similarities drawn between the England team of past and SL's current limited Overs team are not baseless.. Fortunately for England, they have identified and rectified their problem.. They have realized that "class" is not everything... They have realized that "technique" or "playing according to the book" is not so important as supposed... They have realized "impact runs" win more matches than "big runs"... Overall, they have adapted to today's style of limited Overs cricket perfectly...

SL has to learn from these.. Their current brand of playing is fit for tests (and we saw that in England where they batted for 30+ overs with just one or two wicket down but with an horrible run rate) and it would not be surprising if they turn out to be a top test side.. But the current style will NOT suite limited Overs at all.. That's because the game has become more based on runs... We see scores of 350+ regularly.. Scoring a 50 off 25 balls is not a "Big deal" anymore... Players have become more stronger, more powerful, more aggressive and more entertaining .. At the same time we see SL playing the brand of cricket played ages ago.. ..  Slow scorers like Thirimanne in the team for years purely because of "technique".. Aggressive batsmen like Chandimal and mathews forced to play the "anchor" role.. Opening batsmen like kusal perera batting at 7.. Players like Thisara perera, a bowling allrounder relied to be the big hitter...

Clearly there's a serious problem!! Today, a limited Overs team cannot afford to have even one slow scoring batsmen.. Even technically sound batsmen playing the anchor role (Like Root,Williamson,Smith,Amla,Kohli,etc) are expected to score quickly... Also, teams have realized that blind sloggers are not the way to go... Power hitters today have a reasonably good technique behind them ( ex; players like Finch , Buttler , Miller, Corey Anderson, AB Devilliers ,etc)... SL depends on players like thisara perera and seekuge prasanna to do this job.. Seriously a sad joke!! We have to fill the limited Overs side with players who can shift gears and accelerate INSTANTLY and also to play a responsible innings (not slow) backed by solid technique when wickets fall.. Players who can hit any part of the ground without trying anything silly... That's why players like Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardene, Danushka gunethileke, Chamara Kapugedara,Kusal Janith (who are now on and off the team) should be trusted more to play limited Overs .. They have the technique to bat in partnerships... They have the talent to hit the ball cleanly.. They have the ability to accelerate quickly..

Overall, they are the type of players limited Overs cricket beckons.. We can afford to not have players like Chandimal for limited Overs.. There's a reason why Team England decided to drop players like Ian Bell and Cook and bring in players like hales , Roy, Stokes ,etc... It's about time things changed.. Hence, going for "Impact" players over "reliable" players is the way to go.. The team should be prepared to chase any target.. The team should have the ability to score 350+ (or 200+ for t20s) at least once in 5 matches..

The game has changed...Players have changed.. We have to change... No more proven failures.. No more "Mr Elegant s' "... No more "Mr Solid Blockers' ".. Its time for " Mr Matchwinners' ".. Time for "Mr Awesome s' ".. Time for "Mr 360s' ".. Time to wake up...

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N.M.M's picture
Member since:
8 May 2016
Last activity:
16 weeks 6 days

By the way, Im not a Chandimal later at all!! His innings were invaluable across all formats.. This is just a novel approach (which I believe is the correct one).. I just think They have forced Chandimal to bat unlike the way he usually does.. I don't like the idea of "anchors" to be honest...

Sunny's picture

I think every team needs an anchor. You have Hashim Amla for SA (and how many 350+ scores have they made while he was batting?), Joe Root for England, Kane Williamson for NZ and so on. We can complain all we want but our biggest problem is our running.
The biggest change in England's "ODI revolution" was that they were looking to turn singles into 2s and steals singles. We don't do that, we hit a ball to a man on the boundary and jog a single when we could sprint back for two or even three. If we do that everyone can bat at a higher strike rate. I saw Dhananjaya running those twos in the second T20 and that bodes well for the future. We need more of that.

Also, put KJP back at the top to bat with Dhananjaya. Kusal Mendis could be moved down to 4 wth Chandi at 3 because Chandimal's play style is probably better suited for 3 now and Mendis has made a habit of nicking outside off.

And please, no more Thisara or Prasanna. They have one stroke (Thisara showed a decent range of shots in the first ODI but he still failed with the bat), and that's the swipe to cow corner. Players like Shanaka, Siriwardena, Gunathilake and Kapugedara (not the biggest fan, but even I'll admit it) can hit cleanly and have a good range of shots. Shanaka is probably the best hitter in the country and he has two T20 centuries to show for it (and one with 16 sixes).

And we shouldn't copy England with the idea of having a deep batting order- we need at least 3 proper bowlers. Having 3 or 4 "allrounders" (not part-timers, I mean the idea that these guys can bowl a full quota of overs) is not going to help us. 4 bowlers and we can get a few overs from Dhananjaya, Shanaka, Siriwardena and Mathews to fill that fifth bowler slot.

N.M.M's picture
Member since:
8 May 2016
Last activity:
16 weeks 6 days

@sunny I agree but what I don't agree is to make a player play in a way he is not used to... Amla , Williamson, Root are all anchors but THAT is the way they naturally play... They don't make a special effort to bat for long.. That's their style of batting and still they manage to score very quickly... I see someone like Dananjaya Desilva as such a player as well.. He is a natural anchor type player.. My problem is don't force roles down players throats!! They are in the team because of the way they usually play the game.. I don't like the Idea of Matthews being an anchor at all!! Whenever he goes into "anchor" mode, he struggles.. He is best when he is natural(i.e attacking)... Important to identify each players role in the team... Seniority doesn't mean u have to change your style to bat long...
Look at the NZ or ENG teams... Brendon Macullum was the most senior player in the side but did he ever play the "anchor" role??? Does Eoin Morgan play the anchor role?? From the time they came in, root and Williamson have been playing those roles , not because they were forced into, but because that's the way they play!! The playing mentality should be to enjoy the game and let each player play his own way...

(Last edited by N.M.M on September 15, 2016 - 02:28)
AR's picture

100% agree N.M.M.... feel too sad about our Administrators, I think they have no time even to think these aspects other than earning some money or reputation through their selection policy

Sunny's picture

@N.M.M I do agree that it does feel like Chandimal is being forced to not play his natural game. It served him well early on then they tried to make him more technically correct and ruined his careers for a while. I'd like to see that Chandimal again to be honest, and hopefully he can keep scoring runs consistently.

Ranendra 's picture

It's a great article. Pretty perfect judgment except few things. Specially about chandimal. He isn't slow batsman. His innings against aus in the last world cup prove his ability to score quickly. He needs to improve his fitness though. He seems to struggle after scoring fifty. To me srilanka's real problem is their bowling at the moment. No match winner in the bowling department. They should find some one like malinga or Vass in the pace department and some one like Murali (not easy to get) or atleast heath. My suggestion they can try with Sandakan, vendersey. I don't know what happened to Ajantha Mendis. He has a fantastic limited overs record. Srilankan always great limited overs team because of their unorthodox great bowlers. Which they are missing at the moment. That's scoring three hundred in 40 over they lost to England. This creates extra pressure on that young batting lineup. In pace bowling they need fit pressed. Lukmol, prodip not bad either. They need pace of chamira. I don't know whether they have any good domestic fast bowlers. It batting sirewardne and sanaka should get chance ahead of sekughe and kapugedara or even Tissara. Tissara can only get chance if he can improve his bowling. He showed promise in his bowling in the initial stage of his career.

Onlinepoet2000's picture
Member since:
19 December 2013
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1 year 42 weeks

Interesting read, and I couldn't help smiling after reading your last line.

I think our success in the LOI formats had a lot to do with the players we had and also the way we played our cricket. It won't be an exaggeration to say we revolutionised ODI batting in 1996. Sanath led the way with scintillating knocks at the top and he was followed by fine batsmen like Marvan, Aravinda, Arjuna and then later Sanga and Mahela.

As for our bowlers we had Murali and Malinga to leave the opposition floundering. In addition, steady bowlers like Vaas, Zoysa (anyone remember him?) and Kulasekara brought some control to our bowling line up. We were also blessed with batsmen who could bowl. Sanath, Aravinda and Dilshan all fell into this category.

Not all these players played at the same time but when the core of our LOI team was built on such fine players winning was something we did regularly.

Anyway, I highly doubt we would develop a world-beating Test team and flop in the limited over formats. We just don't have the world class players required to be a world beating Test side.

I also think you're confusing T20s with 50 over games. Although the gap has closed in the last few years there are still considerable differences between the formats. You need to have reasonably good technique in order to succeed in 50 over games. As a bowler, you can't be bowling filth for your allotted 10 overs hoping someone would make a mistake and you get a bucketload of wickets. This can happen in T20s but not in ODIs. In a slap bang 50 over game where both teams have posted 350+ perhaps, but you still have games where the winning score is only 250 and you need to get the basics right to win.

Of the current players Amla, De Villiers, Kohli, Root and Angelo Mathews have managed to marry tight technique with fast scoring, something not everyone can do.

As silly as it may sound we need more players like Angelo Mathews and Chandimal. Expecting a Kusal Perera or Kapugedara to fill in the ranks is asking for trouble.

N.M.M's picture
Member since:
8 May 2016
Last activity:
16 weeks 6 days

True, we need players who have managed "to marry technique with fast scoring" but chandimal , Matthews ,Danananjaya& Mendis seems pretty much enough... We do need those players who give the extra edge.. Don't want to rely on someone like prasanna or thisara too much... Im talking about big hitter who have solid technique, not sloggers .. Players like "Finch, Warner, Miller, Buttler, Stokes , etc... We may not have that calibre but how to judge without backing new players?? And people get upset whenever kapugedara is mentioned, just forget his past and judge him after his comeback.... He has been very good since then.. By the way, ODI cricket has changed A LOT... Mark my words, big hitting is gonna be a huge part of CT17... England seems to have adopted the idea that cricket is all about big scores.. The LOI pitches are pretty docile..

(Last edited by N.M.M on September 17, 2016 - 15:37)
Stormy's picture
Member since:
15 January 2011
Last activity:
2 days 1 hour

Absolutely hit the nail on the head - we are playing outdated cricket (trying to do the wrong thing right). We need to change tactics for the new way of limited overs cricket (trying to do the right thing right!). There is too much said about Chandi but the real issue is we don't have a proper opening combo which is forcing Chandi(and Anji) to play a repairing or holding role. I also believe we can only play ONE Chandi like player so if Chandi plays, then guys like Thiri and Tharanga simply don't.

The article only focused on the batting which can be sorted I believe but the real issue is the bowling. As we just found out, even on spinning home tracks, the Aussies rain past us 4-1. If your bowling attack cannot win at home then you have real issues. Our past success in 50 and t20 cricket has been largely due to a solid bowling attack with variety and penetration which we no longer have which is a major problem. We were the masters of variety and mystery but now we don't even have a front line reliable limited overs spinner!

N.M.M's picture
Member since:
8 May 2016
Last activity:
16 weeks 6 days

@stormy agree that bowling is the bigger problem... thats evident.. But its a problem that's gonna take lot of addressing cuz we have to still select a settled bowling line up... This article is more based on batting because we HAVE the right players playing but still underperform due to wrong tactics and mindset.. Its a problem which can and should be addressed immediately..
Also, there's no doubt about chandimals skills or dedication.. He is not the problem, the problem is the role he is FORCED to play... Let him play the way he wants...

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