Sri Lanka has not been the team that it used to be a couple of years ago. The retirement of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan has put the team in a transition as younger players seem to be taking too long to fill the huge void left by the trio.
Their seven-wicket win over India at The Oval was termed as a ‘surprise’ win. Going into the match, they were simply thought to be incapable of beating the Indian side altogether. They turned the tide in their favour eventually. But, the pre-match assumption, however, tells the story about how their reputation has dwindled in recent times.
Kumar Sangakkara, who was in the commentary box during the game, opined that replacements for the likes of Mahela and Dilshan haven’t arrived yet.
“The search has probably gone too long,” Sangakkara told Michael Atherton post-Sri Lanka’s seven-wicket win over India at the Oval on Thursday (June 8). “We have had two and a half years of it now, looking for replacements for Dilshan, Mahela.”
In the past, Sri Lanka has been lucky enough to have great batsmen in their side. Starting from the likes of Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, Sanath Jayasuriya to Marvan Atapattu, these names were the behemoths of Sri Lankan cricket. Later, as these men began fading, the likes of Jayawardena, Sangakkara and Dilshan emerged to take over the baton and continue the legacy. However, Lankan cricket has simply been unlucky afterwards.
Sanga pointed the case of Dinesh Chandimal, who walked into the team just at the right time, grew quickly before getting lost somewhere. The once talented name now has to fight for his place in the side.
With 12 international hundreds under his belt, Chandimal was expected to carry forward a proud lineage of great batsmen produced by the island nation, but he ended being case of poorly managed players.
“One of the accusations directed at the management and the team has been that they haven’t groomed anyone to fill those voids,” he said. “But I think the one man that was identified very early was Dinesh Chandimal, who performed excellently in South Africa, then in England, in Australia. He’s actually had a period where he has been identified as the best young player and was appointed captain probably a bit too soon. Then he was dropped from captaincy, dropped from the team, so he has never had a consistent run in the position that he was identified for.
“I don’t think the environment he’s played in has been very good for his confidence. Every time he takes the field, it’s almost as if he’s playing for his place, for survival, and that’s not a good place for a young player to be.”
Sanga wants’s SLC to go the ECB way. England has been by far the most improved ODI team in the past couple of years. All thanks to the sweeping changes which were brought into action. He feels Sri Lanka Cricket take some huge decisions.
“I think there are a few sides around the world that made tough decisions, tough changes,” said Sangakkara. “England, after the last World Cup, made some tough changes to the One-Day set up, like the appointment of Andrew Strauss as director of cricket, new coaching staff, that has paid dividends.