The solution to Sri Lanka's ODI woes could be a simple one

By Gavin Van Hoff | September 20, 2018

Sri Lanka Cricket

Much has been written about Sri Lanka's poor ODI form this week after Afghanistan knocked the five-time champs out of the Asia Cup, with Sri Lankan scribes calling for the sacking of players and coaching staff.

Rex Clementine, the sports editor of the Sri Lankan newspaper The Island, appeared so shaken up, and perhaps in a state of great confusion by the early Asia Cup exit, even called for the axing of Upul Tharanga, who happens to be Sri Lanka's only successful batsman of late — Tharanga is one of only three players in the world to score over 1000 ODI runs in 2017.

"The Fielding Coach Manoj Abeywickrama has to be sacked," Clementine wrote in his column. "Rumesh Ratnayake the Fast Bowling Coach and Piyal Wijetunga, the Spin Bowling Coach also need to go."

Clementine called for changes to captaincy too, in addition to replacing the batting coach, however, he and other pundits don't address the issue of inconsistent selections and the damaging tinkering to the top-order batting.

This batting line-up could not go past 200 runs in their defeats to Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the Asia Cup, and being unable to field a consistent top order match after match, series after series, does not allow batsmen to develop a strategy and settle into their roles in the side.

[ Also read: Murali slams Sri Lanka selectors and politicians for 'destroying' cricket ]

While many a former player has been critical of the selectors, it's Kumar Sangakkara's comments on-air during the loss to Afghanistan that should resonate: the batting great could not understand why Kusal Mendis, who had been batting at three and four, was promoted to open the batting.

Sangakkara also highlighted the need for the selectors to settle on Sri Lanka's top four batting positions, instead of making changes as often as they have.

Sri Lanka have rifled through players and trialled numerous combinations but have failed to pick 11 players and stick with them. Perhaps they could give this a try immediately, as the 2019 World Cup countdown has already begun.

© Island Cricket


cricexp's picture
Member since:
14 March 2015
Last activity:
4 hours 17 min

Rex is absolutely right with his stats. This is his last 21 international records(2017 Dec to to-date)
12 ODIs played,No hundreds, only one half century scored, highest score is 56, SR is 75. Average of the lord Tharanga is 27.

9 T20s played, No hundreds no fifties and the average is 23.

so 12 ODIs and 9 T20s = 21 international matches.

VajiraSL's picture

Cricexp you have selectively cherrypicked the stats. Why only from Dec 2017? So it is convenient to your argument?

Rex is a joke. Nobody takes Rex seriously!

naseer's picture

kusal perera and upul tharanga should open and kusal mendis should bat at 3... angelo mathews or dinesh chandimal at 4 and dhananjaya de silva at 5 or 6 and you can adjust and play around with the middle and low order batting but leave top order alone!!!

cricexp's picture
Member since:
14 March 2015
Last activity:
4 hours 17 min

Dude- Its not me it was in the Rex article, what he says was Tharanga's last 21 international innings has only 1 half century which is true. Forget about 2017 if you take the stats starting from 2018 it is even worse. We expect lot more than a 34 year old most senior specialised batsmen who cannot ball nor field. Tharanga will be 38 by the next world cup and he will be retired by then, so if he do not continuously perform or win matches for us he should give his place to a youngster so at least he will perform in 2023. Tharanga has only one MOM for last 3 years where Kusal Mendis has 3 Kusal Perera has 2 Danushka Gunathilaka has 2 (within just 30 ODIs). I don't mind Tharanga being selected if he can win us few matches. But he is not. We do not have time to cuddle with this old lad.

Anonymous's picture

Finally a balanced and objective view. Thanks!

kalu5678's picture
Member since:
21 January 2009
Last activity:
3 weeks 4 days

Fielding and fitness are the principal key ingredients to success. Fielding rubs on each other to up to the others, the bowlers can bowl to a better plan, rewarded more and challenges batsman to be better, run between wickets better. DG and ND are 2 who are dynamic in field and behind wk. They should be in the team.

Can't even have a single person who we have to hide in the field or who run poorly. Will upset the rhythm.

So name those who are slow in the field and those who can't convert 1 to 2 or 2 to 3. These are your biggest problems. However important they are they can't be in the team.

So let's start naming names

Anonymous's picture

Why OLD cricketers like Mathews, Malinga and now Dilshan want to be in it? They want to go to ENGLAND in 2019. They will say playing for Sri Lanka is the highest honor. Do not believe them . It is COMPLETE BS. These guys want to take their families to England and enjoy. Who does not want Business Class travel, star hotels and other perks? These are what most our cricketers are after. I am sure you remember Sanath coming home several times during tours when he was the chief selector.

Recently, I was lucky to get an upgrade to Business class. I did not feel the 14-hour flight. I slept like a baby. The seat slides into a bed. The meals were great.

I heard that Malinga takes his parents on tours. Mathews may like to take his baby along with his wife. Dilshan, same crap. Why can't they do these off season? I am sure that they have enough money to do so. But, they want to FREELOAD. Cheap!

I think that a cricketer who takes his family members can not FOCUS 100% on cricket. Once the focus goes, fielding practice, running between the wickets and other basics take a back seat and what happens on the field is not pretty.

Mathews should be dropped on fitness. The guy is always worried about his leg while running. I am sure that this problem caused the two run outs during the Asia Cup. Despite this obvious fitness problem with Mathews, I am surprised that Sangakkara is promoting his friend Mathews.

In addition, I believe that Mathews is Sumathipala's Man. Sri Lanka lose, Sumathipala wins. I am sure you know what I mean. To get rid of Mathew, Labrooy, another Sumathie's man, should be removed. As far as Labrooy is there as the chief selector, Sri Lanka is bound to lose lot of matches.

Malinga is not fit at all. His fielding is pathetic. We don't want him. SLC have failed . SLC management has not yet groomed a young fast bowler to replace Malinga. It is high time to do so.

I feel that the intention of some of our cricketers to play for Sri Lanka is to:
1) Have a nice annual income thru a contract
2) Get a T20 contract like IPL.

I think winning a match for Sri Lanka as a team, is not a priority for some of our players. They play to make sure their places are secured for the future matches. How many times have we seen players getting out after a 40 or 50 without converting it to a big score.

Bad intentions, bad results!

Anonymous's picture

Look at Sangakkara in the picture. I did not know he has taken up WELDING.

Jagath Perera's picture
Member since:
7 April 2010
Last activity:
2 weeks 5 days

What silly ideas Rex has! We won't have any players or coaches left if we keep sacking everyone after losing matches.

Liyum's picture
Member since:
24 June 2018
Last activity:
4 hours 33 min

Cricexp: currently the hot subject is odi cricket and aren't we all talking about odis here? Asia cup is an international tournament played for 50 overs (Odis) and what's the point of considering t20 or test stats to letdown a player who has far better averages than the rest of SL batters even in this tournament?

Tharanga is still only 33 yrs. why u always add a year to his age? I know u hate Upul, but SL cannot afford to discard the best performed odi front order batter we had for over 2 yrs fighting a lone battle, especially at 33 yrs. He is the fittest batter in the side and at least4 more yrs left in him.

The simple truth u miss here is a single batter or bowler cannot salvage a team's gradual downfall due to various other reasons, including non performing batting unit, since cricket is a team sport. No matter how experienced he is and how hard he tried, the outcome cannot be changed without the support of others. This is a fact, even proved during Sanga, MJ, Dilly days. Didn't we see an early exit from last WC at QF stage, despite Sanga & dilly's career best efforts. That wasn't good enough for a side who came to the finals in both previous world cups.

(Last edited by Liyum on September 20, 2018 - 10:16)

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