The anchor role

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For some reason, sl cricket have always messed up the understanding of "anchor role" in the team.. For starters, Sangakkara was ordered to play the anchor role earlier in his career, meaning he was asked to hold his wicket intact until the end of the innings without bothering about the scoring rate. This seemed a good ploy and sl did not suffer from this as there were other prolific strokemakers in the team, who kept the runrate under control.

But arguably, this did not bring out the best in Sangakkara during that period. He freely admits that he was told to play his natural game after 2009, and apparently was a different and much more fluent player. His average kickstarted and he became a matchwinner, all the while the aim was to score runs, not to block all balls.

Similarly, after Sangakkara , sl repeated their mistakes.. Anchor role was given to players who "held their wicket" without bothering about scoring rate. This time, it didn't work anymore because the impact players like sanath,dilshan, mahela,etc who scored rapidly were not there anymore to hide the scoring rate of the anchor. Hence, sl started losing matches even after having good solid foundation. Sometimes they were even forced to send up players like seekuge prasanna in at 4 to up the run rate.

This clearly is an issue. Even when Chandimal got 6 consecutive 50s, sl still were not in a position to win. Whereas if we take a look at the most successful anchors in world cricket currently, they are not players who just "keep their wicket intact". In fact, they are the players who score easily at all periods. Amla,Smith,Root,Williamson,kohli,Du plessis,etc are some examples.

Hence its clear that anchor roles doesn't mean deadbatting balls, it means scoring runs easily with minimal risk and not resorting to overaggressive approaches at the initial stages of the innings, but having the ability to change gears whenever needed. Hence, sl needs such a player to play the anchor role.

By some good fortune, the ideal one for anchor role have been found in the form of Asela Gunaratne. He bats sensibly, doesn't seem impatient or easily disturbed, handles pressure amazingly well, rotates the strike with ease, has boundary options all around the ground and can change gears at any time.. Besides, his bowling is an enormous plus point as well.. Hence, we don't need to look far for an ideal anchor alongside Angelo Mathews. Asela Gunaratne is the man!!


Futurevc's picture

Dude let him play where he comfortable with.. Asela has not faced any quality attack yet.. Zim WI and second third string SA and AUSTRALIA... real deal is the champion trophy

RM 's picture

You cant say it s a second string attack in SA ODI's . Check this

It is the same bowlers they used against us. If Steyn and Morkel is injured these bowlers are the next set of bowlers. You cant simply undermine them by saying third string attack.

N.M.M's picture
Member since:
8 May 2016
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1 hour 18 min

These r the bowlers that even ipl is paying a lot over their own bowlers like ishant sharma..

Andrew Silva's picture
Member since:
15 February 2015
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10 weeks 1 day

NMM You have brought up a very good point. In fact Upul Tharanga is the the best proven player we have, who can do the anchor role. He used to do that quite successfully in Odis over 8 years & certainly mix aggression with caution as needed. He is capable of reading the game well and act according to the demanding situation putting up big scores. Upul is the best guy (with experience & proven ability) in the current team for the job & he should resume his anchoring role.

But, lately he seems to have switched to concentrate on aggression only, risking his wicket too early, as seen in SA Odi series where he knocked his 14th ton @ 132 SR . That was Tharanga's career best SR seen in his 44x 50+ scores (his previous best was 113 SR).

Just look at his 14x 100+ scores as OPENER.

14 ings- 1628 runs -162.80 Average - 90.44 SR

105 - 95.45 SR v Bangladesh - Colombo
103 - 82.40 SR v New Zealand - Christchurch
120 - 76.92 SR v England - Lord's
109 - 106.86 SR v England -Leeds
105 - 81.39 SR v Bangladesh -Mohali
110 - 84.61 SR v Zimbabwe - Ahmedabad
118 - 92.18 SR v India - Kolkata
118*- 93.65 SR v Bangladesh -Dhaka
101*- 70.62 SR v West Indies - Colombo (SSC)
133 - 94.32 SR v Zimbabwe - Pallekele
102* - 83.60 SR v England - Colombo (RPS)
111 - 79.85 SR v Australia - Hambantota
174* - 109.43 SR v India - Kingston
119 - 132.22 SR v South Africa - Cape Town

They are all 80 or above SR, except in 2 matches vs Eng (77SR) & WI (71SR). But both matches were easily won by SL shows his approach as opener in those situations were right. Overall 163 average shows how big the 100+ contributions were.

Similarly, Tharanga's 44 x 50+ innings overall average 102 @ 83 SR.

44 innings - 3583 runs - 102.37 Av - 83.03 SR - 14 x100+/ 30 x 50+

Out of those 44 Odis, 30 of them were won by SL and only 14 were lost. Here are the overall figures of Tharanga's 50+ scores, In those14 matches lost by SL:

14 innings - 1,045 runs - 119 HS - 80.38 Average - 86.72 SR.!

Upul averaged 80 @ 87SR in those lost 14 matches clearly shows that he had done his part & losses were most likely due to failure of others to capitalize on that initiative.

The latest being the 4th odi in recent SA series, where Opener Tharanga scored majestic 119 runs @ 132 SR in SA conditions, to give the best possible initiative to reach the massive target of 368 (putting 100 from 9 overs & 139 from 16 ovs with ND for the 1st wicket & another 64 runs 2nd wkt stand with KM) to get the score to 216 in 29th over when he got out (putting SL 40 runs ahead of SA at that stage with similar number of wickets remaining).

Tharanga's lateest 100+ in SA came with his career best Strike Rate 132. Over aggression in initial stage takes his anchoring possibility away due to involved risk factor. Therefore, Upul's role should be reverted to well judged anchoring (to build long stands with others all along the inning) & Niroshan can become the initial aggressor (as Dilshan) at top in odis. After all Tharanga has the world records in odis for highest number of 200+ stands & highest 1st wkt stand to date.

(Last edited by Andrew Silva on February 24, 2017 - 12:33)
Kap's picture
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25 February 2017
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43 weeks 5 days

Sri Lanka XI for the 1st Test againist Bangeldesh
1.Ron Chandraguptha
2.Sadeera Samarawickrama
3.Sandun Weerakkody
4.Kusal Mendis
5.Upul Tharanga
6.Asela Gunaratne/Dhananjaya de Silva
7.Niroshan Dickwella
8.Dilruwan Perera
9.Rangana Herath
10.Nuwan Pradeep
11.Vimukthi Perera/Suranga Lakmal/Lahiru Kumara

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