The Sri Lankan cricket team appears to be on a never-ending search for replacements for icons like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
It’s fair to say that Sri Lanka has been claiming that they are still reeling from huge retirements and are in a ‘transition’ phase for far too long. They’ve had plenty of time to recover from those losses, assemble a new team, and provide enough experience to the young players. Instead, sloppy tactics and careless administrations have conspired to produce Sri Lanka one of the least competitive Test-playing nations in recent memory.
Nothing illustrates this better than the fact that since the 2015 ODI World Cup, no team has given out more debuts than Sri Lanka. The Lankans have been haphazardly selecting and dropping players, with no regard for the principle of team-building. Captains are appointed and then requested to resign at a moment’s notice. If changing players and captains wasn’t enough, the coach’s role is also constantly shifting.
Most of the difficulties, one assumes, have something to do with the Sri Lankan sports minister’s growing prominence.
The teenagers are plainly inexperienced, but they’ve chosen to ignore older players like Angelo Dinesh Chandimal and Lasith Malinga, despite the fact that the T20 World Cup is only a few months away.
In the recently finished limited-overs series against England, Sri Lanka lost five of the six matches across T20I and ODI formats as a result of such poor decision-making. The sixth game was not rained out, hence they did not lose it.
T20Is: 3-0— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) July 4, 2021
An unbeaten start to England's white-ball summer as Sri Lanka go home winless 🏴🏆 pic.twitter.com/q77t4Vjnkz
The Sri Lankans appeared to have a slim chance of winning any of the games on the tour. To make matters worse, three of their players were detected breaking the bio-bubble built for the series, pushing the boundaries of what can be characterized as ‘chaotic.’ Kushal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, and Danushka Gunathilaka have been temporarily barred from participating in the tournament. If a five-member committee investigating the case finds them guilty, they might face a minimum one-year ban.
When you add in the minor matter of a contract disagreement between the board and the players, the word ‘chaotic’ doesn’t even come close to describing the state of Sri Lankan cricket.
What does the future hold for Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka will next face India in a three-ODI and three T20I limited-overs series.
Sri Lanka has a few things to be optimistic about heading into the home series. There’s every reason to assume that, if given enough time, Tom Moody, the director of cricket, and Mickey Arthur, the head coach, will be able to instill the necessary discipline in the team.
As previously said, there has been an influx of young players, and based on the coach’s comments, they will be well supported. Of course, given that we’re discussing Sri Lankan cricket, this opinion might change at any time, but for the time being, it’s good to know.
While their batting was poor, their bowling versus England gave Sri Lankan fans a ray of optimism. If they wish to compete, Dushmantha Chameera, the right-arm fast bowler, will have to stay fit and shoulder a major share of the responsibility with the ball. Binura Fernando, with his left-arm angle and extra bounce, has also been impressive. Wanindu Hasaranga, the leg spinner, has often been the sole threat to the opposition’s batting order, but he appears to be getting more support now.
Mickey Arthur has pushed the players to improve their fitness and fielding, as predicted, and the results are starting to show. They may not have instantly become one of the top fielding corps in the world, but they’re showing indications of improvement. Another plus is the presence of all-rounders like Dasun Shanaka and Hasaranga, who should bring much-needed balance to the team.
Sri Lanka need to find ways to develop their young batsmen quickly and keep their bowlers fit. Otherwise, frighteningly so, we may not have seen the worst of Sri Lanka’s fortunes.