22 November, 2019

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Our Lamentable World Cup Performance

By Sanjeewa Jayaweera

Sanjeewa Jayaweera

The Report card will show, we won 3, lost 4 with 2 matches abandoned due to rain. Die-hard supporters of a team being thrashed regularly both at home and abroad might call it a reasonable performance. Sri Lanka lost 24 out of the last 28 matches leading up to the world cup. 

All our world cup losses were by significant margins. We lost to New Zealand by 10 wickets with 34 overs to spare. The Australians beat us by 87 runs, South Africa beat us by 9 wickets with 12 overs to spare, and India prevailed by 7 wickets. In terms of ODI cricket, these are all comprehensive losses. No one could argue if one was to say, we were ”thrashed’.

It all points to the need for a critical analysis of the selector’s decisions and player’s performance. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) should undertake such an exercise post haste if the rot is to be halted. If not, our performance in 2023 would be no better or even worse.

In my considered opinion, only Sri Lanka and South Africa have regressed since the last world cup in 2015. The transformation of England to a large extent and India to some extent since should bring hope to both SLC and our cricketers. It could give hope we may just be able to turn things around if all concerned are prepared to make some hard and unpopular decisions.

There is much evidence of dysfunction at SLC since the last world cup. 57 players have represented Sri Lanka in the previous four years besides eight ODI captains since 2015. Dimuth Karunaratne, selected as captain and player for the world cup, had not played a single ODI match for Sri Lanka since the last world cup series. Dhananjaya de Silva, a young batsman, has batted in all positions from number one to number nine in his 33 match ODI career. He played primarily as a spin blower in the 2019 world cup. 

I believe it is obvious. Cricket in this country has been administered in the last four years by SLC in the same manner, President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe have governed the country since 2015.

After our initial losses, I read that Kumar Sangakkara, the legendary Sri Lankan cricketer had stated, our players lacked “situational awareness.” I believe Sanga was being typically diplomatic. 

To put it more bluntly, many of our players played with a lack of basic intelligence. The words “stupid” and “idiotic” can easily be fitted in without causing much offense to the players. For a country that has produced exceptionally gifted and intelligent cricketers of the caliber of Aravinda, Arjuna, Murali, Sanath, Vass, Dilshan, Mahela, Sanga, and Malinga, it is astonishing that cricketing talent and commonsense is currently in such short supply.  

There is no doubt, the men entrusted with the responsibility of administering cricketing matters in the country, namely SLC and the Selectors panels have performed way below acceptable standards. They need to be held accountable for the current pathetic state of affairs. 

The cricketers, too, cannot be totally absolved. I say this because, since 1996, when we won the world cup, various individuals of questionable ethics and motives have got themselves elected to SLC. The exceptions were the likes of Michael Tissera, Sidath Wettimuny, and Rienize Wijeytilleke. However, despite the shenanigans of those elected, the individual brilliance of the players mentioned earlier ensured, Sri Lankan cricket competed at the highest level with distinction.  Therefore, the present-day players cannot entirely hide behind the dysfunctional SLC and Selection Panels for their poor performance.

In my view, the differing fortunes of Thisara Perera and Virat Kohli since the 2011 world cup final is a clear example of the malaise that impacts our cricketers. The batting performance of Thisara against Zaheer Khan in the last over of our innings when he scored over 15 runs was an indication of his talent as an explosive batsman. 

Kohli in 2011 was a promising batsman. In the intervening eight years, he has developed into a great batsman scoring centuries at will against all teams.  Kohli has also turned into an excellent captain, playing with great passion and pride and now a cricketing statesman. He requested the Indian spectators to applaud the efforts of Steve Smith and David Warner as opposed to booing them. 

When one looks at Kholi, you see a supremely fit individual without an ounce of fat who can run as many singles, twos, and threes in scoring countless centuries. That type of fitness is achieved as a result of dedication and discipline from training routine to diet. When you look at Thisara, you see an individual with excess weight, without any semblance of being an athlete and with a muddled brain, whether it be in batting or bowling.

Lasith Malinga’s midriff, as observed on TV, indicates severe neglect in the physical fitness department. A much higher level of physical fitness is required from players participating in prestigious tournaments such as the world cup. 

Malinga’s position of Sri Lanka’s best bowler by far is a clear indication of the lack of bowling talent.

It is also maddening to see promising batsmen as Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis and Dhanajaya de Silva struggling to fulfill the early promise they displayed. It is expected that players improve with experience, but it seems to be not the case when it comes to our players.  

Having said that, both Sanga and Mahela have articulated that the absence of security of tenure in the team after a few poor performances tend to impact these players negatively. The selectors need to take full responsibility for this state of affairs. 

It is astonishing Jeevan Mendis, and Milinda Siriwardena were selected for the world cup. The Chairman of Selectors needs to explain the criteria applied in choosing these two players.

Mahela, Sanga, and Murali have clearly stated, the resurgence of Sri Lankan cricket should commence by limiting the number of teams competing at the highest level in domestic cricket. Ideally, a pool of around 90 of our best cricketers comprising of about six teams competing in the first-class level would be sensible. It would ensure, runs scored, and wickets taken are of some value. 

Such a sensible idea could be implemented only if powers behind the scene would be willing to forgo their personal ambitions. They must give up their agendas of winning facile elections and to indefinitely occupy SLC positions in favor of the overall interest of Sri Lanka cricket.

My initial reaction would be, “pigs would fly before that.” The cricketing intelligence and good ethics of former players like Mahela, Sanga, Murali, Roshan Mahanama, et al. need to be inducted to SLC and Selectors and the current lot be sent on compulsory retirement permanently.

The question is whether we have people with the necessary backbone and integrity to undertake such an overhaul?

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Latest comments

  • 6
    0

    What we see now is the result of years of political patronage, interference, and downright incompetence. When you have the ‘minister of cricket’ deciding who plays and who stays at home, you have reached the bottom of a very deep murky pit. The senior domestic cricket is nearly non-existent. A makeshift sop to critics. The nonsense that exists where the Board is controlled by a bookie-puppet-master remains a ICC headache. The blackest joke is that if you search the SriLankaCricket website and look for the Premier League Tournament – Points Table, the response is
    Premier League Tournament – Points Table
    Attention: The internal data of table “7” is corrupted!
    Attention: The internal data of table “8” is corrupted!

    Says it all!

    • 5
      1

      The best measure to turn Sri Lanka Cricket around is to appoint Skandakumar as the president of the board. He is due to return to the country after completing his term as the HC in Australia. He is of high integrity, has administrative experience as past chairmen of George Stuarts, has knowledge of the game having played it at high level for university and Tamil Union and has expertise on pitches having been the ground secretary of Tamil Union, also knows the board matters having been a past secretary. Now that a Sinhalese has been appointed as MCC president transcending ethnic divide, why cannot a Tamil be appointed as president of Sri Lanka Cricket, which position has eluded a Tamil in the past, unless Sri Lanka wants to continue discriminatory policy rather than meritocracy. The onus on this lies on Sangakkara who himself was a beneficiary of non racism who should campaign for this.

      • 2
        1

        I would agree that Mr. Skandakumar would make an excellent President of SLC precisely due to the various attributes of his character and experience that Dr. Sankaralingam has highlighted. I see no reason as to why his ethnicity should be an impediment. The greatest Sri Lankan cricketer is Murali who is a Tamil. We need to prevail on the ICC to allow SLC to be be comprised of unelected members. Presently the BCCI is being run by a panel appointed by the Supreme Court of India and it seems the ICC has no issue!.

        • 1
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          sanjeeva

          ” I see no reason as to why his ethnicity should be an impediment. “

          As a hindu i wish modi also had the same mentality as you.He is taking the country in the same direction as the sinhala bhuddhists did here.See what happened to mohamed shami,the best bowler of the tournament in the limited time he was given to show his prowess.This kind of cheap mentality finally results in shooting yourself in the foot.I too hope skanda takes over our cricket.

      • 0
        1

        Case in Point

        Good Dr dont make this a race issue. As proof of success dont relate to the race I will mention the name of the man who was at the helm when Sri Lanka won the cup Anna Punchiheva. He was never called Sinhalese, Tamil, or Muslim SLC President he was simply President of SLC.
        Don’t be so patronizing and get on to rarefied air to suggest survival of Sri Lankan cricket going to depend on one race of people.
        With all the talent, money and superstars what happen to India & Australia. It is very possible HC Skandakumar with his monumental abilities get snapped by Australia or India, two supper powers of world cricket.

        • 1
          0

          There is no race issue in my suggestion. I have only recommended a person on the basis of meritocracy. When MCC appointed Sangakkara as president it was told in the press that a non white has been appointed president. So why are you trying to find fault when someone says that a non Sinhalese to be appointed as president of SL cricket purely on merit. When you say that non white person was not appointed president of MCC for so long because of white racism, does that rule not apply to Sri Lanka that a non Sinhalese has not been appointed as president of SL cricket because of prevailing racism. When there were several able Tamils who could have been the head of SL cricket, by not appointing any one of them for that post since independence, proves the presence of racism.

    • 3
      0

      Cricket is symbolic of backward Sri Lanka. Cricket is a worthless sport. The great nations of the world : USA, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and China don’t play Cricket because its dumb. If SL is to rise as an nation – we need to demonstrate our powers via Football, Rugby, Hockey and Vollyeball. These sports require real masculinity. Fattys like Ranatunga, Mathews and Malinga represent the general male population of SL :spineless Losers.

  • 3
    1

    There is a ray of hope, that is if ICC suspends the whole administration and SL cricket body as they did recently with Zimbabwe for corruption and mismanagement. SL was one time champion, three times finalist, two tome 20/20 finalist, beat South Africa at home, beat Pakistan and England in test away, has now reached such a sorry state. The decline started during Rajapksas time and they never recovered. Very soon they will hit bottom just like our country. Remember Upul got suspended because of Dr. Whites treatment, dragged Sanath, Dilshan and Murali into their dirty politics, appointed turncoat Dayasiri as minister who Malinga aptly called as monkey for which he was forced to apologize, harassed Malinga throughout his carrier for not towing their line, Sanga had warned this outcome years ago in his MCC speech for which he was served show case notice, Thilanga a known rogue politician has through out his career negatively influenced SL cricket and continues to do so, brought Sanath has replacement in eleventh hour of a world cup final, used political influence to bring kids of politicians (dirty Rambuke) and others the list goes on and on.I may not be accurate with numbers of SL performance but regardless facts cannot be hidden

  • 1
    0

    I am surprised SL still managed to come 6th instead of last. All credit goes to cricketers who gave their best for the country, against all political adversities. . Prior to world cup SL board requested Sanga and Mahela to be mentors which they rightly refused. They knew , SL board was looking for scapegoats and not mentors.

  • 2
    0

    Besides corruption and incompetence there are several other things wrong with our cricket system.
    1. I think the quality of our school cricket has fallen. Most of our good players were spotted from a young age and groomed to become who they became. But from the on going it is clear that no new talents are emerging. Hence the need to recycle the same thrash over and over.
    2. We are about the only major cricketing country without a proper international league. Our best players go and play abroad and end up providing experience to players overseas, while our players are limited to local knowledge.
    3. I think its a question of money or rather the lack of it. Sponsorship too is very poor. If you observe, most local sponsors have withdrawn. Likes of Dialog, Dilma, Mobitel etc have disappeared. Either the economics of sponsorship advertising is unprofitable or the sponsorship money goes into pockets, maybe they know something we don’t.
    4. Other countries are refining and perfecting their game daily by introducing new ideas and techniques while we hold on to a false pride and refuse to change. This is not limited to cricket. Most things in Sri lanka are anchored firmly while the rest of the world is on a roll.
    Change is consciously or subconsciously opposed vehemently.
    I think we should just look for another game to dominate in. Like carrom or draughts. Cricket is too competitive these days.

  • 0
    0

    Why Cricket needs a minister to supervise. Minister earns much needed cash for his political campaign. So, he is not at fault. In other countries it is a business.
    Besides, ICC – england must have been a corrupt entity. IT looks so many things went wrong there.

  • 6
    0

    when thilaga sumathipala the bukki king runs the show. what do u expect. we have enough match fixers. Now the bukki is backing gnansaraya to ruin the country.

  • 2
    0

    “It is astonishing Jeevan Mendis, and Milinda Siriwardena were selected for the world cup. The Chairman of Selectors needs to explain the criteria applied in choosing these two players.”

    he does not need to give an explanation.just sack the bugger.

  • 0
    0

    there were only 2 players who did well in this world cup.One is avishka fernando and the other is malinga.Avishka will be a good prospect in the future while malinga of course gave his farewell.

  • 0
    0

    Sanjeewa Jayaweera knows that {“Our Lamentable World Cup Performance”} has more to it.
    ‘Our Cricket’ peaked at one stage when politicians noted the untapped resource ‘Our Players’.
    The temptation to exploit the ‘Cricket Labour’ led to politicisation of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). The SLC Council got infiltrated by carpet-baggers.
    SLC is in the radar of International Cricket Council (ICC). Remember last week or so ICC nudged SLC not allow a onetime great getting near any of the players.
    Has the ‘Politically Correct Sinhalisation’ been detrimental?

  • 1
    0

    Sri Lanka Cricket started going down the pallan the day that Bellige Putha Mahinda Rajapaksa stole six [6] billion from the SLC kitty in 2011. He says he spent two billion in the construction of Suriyawewa park where only one or two matches are played an year. The main culprit who supported him was Sanjaya Ranatunga., brother of Arjuna, with side support from D S De Silva. What a disgrace. He didn’t allow the audit by Auditor General. When C B Ratnayake was appointed Minister of Sports, he opened his mouth to say that SLC is the 2nd most corrupt institution in the country. The next day he was removed as Minister of Sports. That tells how much MARA robbed. If that money was there SLC could have trained another 200 cricketers for the future after Sanga, Sanath, Mahela and Dilshan retired. The BP should be castrated..

  • 0
    0

    At the Cricket World Cup 2015, England could not even make the quarter-finals. Four years later, England is in the finals and looking good to lift the Cup at Lord’s on Sunday. It has been a remarkable turn-around. But that did not just happen. It is the coming to fruition of soundly conceived plans initiated soon after the last World Cup, and properly managed and diligently pursued. This is in stark contrast to what SL Cricket has been about in the interim. What we have had is, in one word, chaos. It is almost as if SL Cricket was keen to validate Murphy’s Law that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Among other things, coaches, selectors and captains have been come and gone, players have been picked and dropped, while the powers that be have seemingly been groping with neither direction nor purpose. It is stating the obvious to say that changes are necessary. In this regard, the Minister of Sport is reported as saying several changes of personnel are contemplated. But merely replacing the old set with a new lot won’t of itself achieve much. What is necessary is to firstly take a long, hard and objective review of where we are currently at, identify the areas that need attention and then set in place proper arrangements to address them. BTW, when the last Australian Ashes team visiting England lost badly, Rod Marsh who was the chairman of selectors, promptly handed in his resignation. I wonder if Mr De Mel knows.

  • 0
    0

    we must ask the monks to run cricket. like they run the temples. abusing all small monks with there balls. investigate 600-1500 rapes of children in temples. police don’t take statements from kids.

  • 0
    0

    Punnananda appeared before Colombo Magistrates Court on 18 March 2011 after admitting he had sexually abused five underage novice Buddhist monks under his care.[1][2] Two of Punnananda’s alleged victims gave evidence to the magistrate who has ordered the police to produce the other three alleged victims before the court. The magistrate also ordered the police to investigate whether other underage novice monks were abused in the Budhhist temple where Punnananda is the chief incumbent. Punnananda is on bail
    1000 of children sexually abused by monks. stop

  • 0
    0

    i just had a look at the statistics of our previous players to see whether we have currently the talent to match them.These are for the ODI only
    1.sangakkara -av 41.96 strike rate 78.88.Mathews av 41.97 SR 83.So sanga is replaced by mathews .
    2.jayasuriya av 32.51 SR 91.25.Upul tharanga av 33.85 SR 76.So sanath replaced by upul.Of course sanath’s explosive batting cannot be replaced,but he did not stay there long enough just like upul.
    3.jayawardena av 33.SR 78.67 chandimal av 32.42 SR 74.both averages are same.Though chandimal should increase his scoring rate a bit,he can replace jayawardena.
    4.dilshan av 39.27 SR 86.23.avishka fernando world cup 2019 av-50.75 WC SR 105.72.Certainly a guy with talent who can replace dilshan.
    5.Aravinda av.34.90 SR 81.thirimanne-av 35.20 SR 72.30.Thirimanne has a long way to go to catch up with aravinda’s quick strike rate,but at least he can match his average.
    6.attapattu av 37.57 SR 67.72 dimuth karunaratne WC 2019 av 37.SR 71.38.can replace atapattu.
    7.ranatunge av 35.84 SR 77.90 dickwella av 32.72 SR 93.56 If dickwella can be coached to do a trade off by reducing his strike rate and increasing his average by staying longer at the crease,then he can replace ranatunge.If he can’t do that then he should be dropped as happened at this WC.

    so it looks like the highest seven scoring batsmen we have had can be replaced with our current cricketers.So it is not the lack of talent in the batting that is the problem i think.I was a bit worried that we had run out of batting talent as happened to the windies at one time,but that does not seem to be the case.someone has to nurture and coach the batting with a long term purpose in mind and get rid of any technical defects,but more importantly concentrate on mental aspects.

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