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Back-up team for cricket has paid rich dividends

CRICKET: A back-up team or a ‘A’ team for cricket really had the attention of SLC over the last three or four years and that has contributed immensely to the development of the bench strength of SLC in virtually in all aspects. The policy has been to have players being developed for virtually every position that is available in the national team. And additionally, a lot of emphasis is paid to Under 19 cricket and I feel Sri Lanka’s future is assured for many years to come.

These satisfying sentiments were expressed by former Sri Lanka opening bastman and wicket-keeper and present selector and Sri Lanka ‘A’ team Manager Ranjit Fernando in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer.

Fernando, who was a member of the Sri Lanka team at the inaugural 1975 Cricket World Cup staged in England prior to the country gaining full-member status in the ICC, believes that the combination could be an ideal one with the World Cup within sight. Incidentally, Fernando, a reputed commentator, along with D.S. de Silva, Anura Tennekoon in their hey days were up against the thunderbolts of Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thompson, Andy Roberts, Vanburn Holder, Bernard Julien etc.

Present chairman of Selectors Aravinda de Silva who played a pivotal role in the 1996 World Cup, too, will be an asset in moulding the team into a champion outfit.

There is a steady influx of very talented players coming through the ranks with the current ‘A’ team being involved in it. ‘I find there is a lot of talent and the intention of the selectors have been to try and give as many players the opportunities.

The primary goal is of course to succeed and win, but also at the same time we have to try and expose as many players as possible rather than just keep confined to a small group. By having many talented players, we then have many players to choose from.

We now have more than just one or two players who are in contention almost for every position in the national team. We then have a ‘pool’ to keep in mind so that if exergencies occur, we are able to fill the gaps,” said Fernando who is also a national selector.

He rated the cricket coaching structure in the country as a very good one and believed they should strive to be the best in the world. To reach the top the players must aim high, or otherwise they are not going to get close to it. We have been very fortunate that the ‘A’ team and the Under 19 team have been handled by competent coaches over the years.

Like in any situation there are areas that need improvement, we need to identify them and work hard and go forward.

There are areas like more communication needed with players to know where each one of them stand. It is also necessary to identify what improvements can be done to them. We need to spend a lot of time in listening to their problems to find out as to why they cannot achieve their goals.

Fernando also stressed the need of indigenous coaches at the top. He said that he is not certain or familiar as to what is really happening at the national level to say at what stage it should be done. It is unfair to make any suggestions at all and said all what he could say is that Sri Lanka are progressing.

Before long we should have our home grown coaches looking after our national team. The most important thing are the players themselves and they should have faith in coaches and trust in their ability.

In the past there was a feeling that we needed a foreign coach and this was somewhat of a fashion, but, this is slowly dying and a coach should be got - a very good one at that because the players will know whether they are gaining anything from him.

Referring to the player/coach link, Fernando said that all top players at a certain stage in their career have gone through various coaches. They start with their junior coaches and even parents who would have coached them the rudiments at the initial stages.

All these coaches have made some contribution and I wouldn’t want to say someone hasn’t been done. Fernando said that he had worked with the present ‘A’ team coach Romesh Kaluvitharana and he has done a lot.

All the players who had moved up to the national team, players like Chamara Silva, Jeevan Mendis are players who have gained much from the coach. I don’t think one particular person can be singled out to say that he has done something, and any coach would also accept that fact.

 

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