Radical action needed to prepare for T20 WC | Sunday Observer

Radical action needed to prepare for T20 WC

When this columnist was in school eons ago and captained his school team there was one instance where the team performed disastrously.

As we returned to the pavilion our coach Bertie Wijesinha virtually thrashed the writer, with a verbal barrage and nearly physically. Many in the team were dropped never to return and others were sent for ‘rehab’ while still others were detained in “jail!

That was the last time we performed the way we did. In those days my peers as captains in other schools were Lareef Idroos (STCML), Michael Dias (Royal), Priya Perera (SJC), Charlie Joseph (SACK), Premasiri Athukorale (SPC), Jayawickrema Perera (Nalanda), Kingsley Fernando (St. Sebs, Moratuwa), Anilal Wickremasinghe (SACW), R.S. Jayetilleke (St. Anne’s Kurunegala) and Irwin Fernando, Sister Schools.

The coaches were unforgiving. This played into club cricket as well and into the highest levels where this columnist was privileged to play. Excuses were not tolerated.

These reminiscences came to mind as our Lankan cricketers who toured India for a three match T/20 series came back in shame being convincingly thrashed by the hosts 2-0 with rain preventing play in the first game thus saving them from further humiliation.

They deserve the type of unforgiving treatment that we in our days had to suffer. And the time has indeed come for some drastic action to be taken.

It’s a challenge to the new head coach and his support staff to enforce the needed rigor and discipline to get our players from the skipper down to take the game seriously or face “jail time”.

If radical measures are not taken we might as well kiss goodbye to our main target, the World Cup T/20 tournament to be held in Australia later in the year. If the manner in which they performed in India is an indication, then it won’t be wrong to say that they will be just making up the numbers and being ‘also played’.

Head coach and his support staff will have to work from out of their skins to turn the poorly performing cricketers into a force to be reckoned with by getting them to play as a team, because cricket is a team game and there’s no room for individual play.

Saying that the cricketers are talented would serve no purpose if they are unable to perform and perform consistently taking the cue and performing like the Indians do.

Of interest to Sri Lanka was to see the return of all rounder and former captain Angelo Mathews. Mathews was surprisingly benched for the first two games and given a go in the final game. He looks fit like in his early days after recovering from injury that plagued him and it was pleasing to see him bowl again.

Bowling his once famous and wicket taking cutters and opening the bowling, he would have had a wicket that of the hard hitting Shikar Dhawan who mistimed a pull to mid wicket, but Dhasun Shanaka made a valiant effort to grab the catch but it eluded him.

When Mathews took strike he showed that the thirst for runs was still there as he hit the bowlers for boundaries. But chasing a massive Indian score of 202 to win, he had to take the risks and was out trying to maintain the required run rate. Mathews proved that he is a must in the squad and the selectors need not debate on him in the future.

And now to the all important captaincy and Lasith Malinga who has that crown on his head. He is mainly a bowler and when opening the bowling he is expected to get an early wicket or wickets to put his team on top and the batting side in worry.

In the two games he went wicket less conceding over 40 runs in the four overs with no wicket to show. For a bowler of his calibre it was a poor return.. But he has it in him to bounce back.

The question now being asked is whether the captaincy is effecting his performing. As for us, yes. We say this because it is not easy for a captain who is a bowler and who is the main wicket taking weapon to be a good and winning captain. He is lacking in confidence at the moment.

By saying this we are certainly not trying to be unkind to him. He has been a world class bowler getting hat-tricks and four wickets in four balls which no other bowler has done in all forms of cricket and steered the country to many victories. His above mentioned efforts will never be equalled or surpassed.

There have been allegations about his captaincy like favouring some players and that he lacks the all important ability to get the team to perform as one attack force.

True he won the 2014 T/20 World Cup in Bangladesh as captain. Since then being allowed to lead in this format his form and record as a winning skipper has not been encouraging or outstanding.

After the Indian tour he is on record saying he would quit if the selectors don’t want him. But we hope that would not be the case and that the Head Coach and Chief Selector will speak to him and tell him where he is going wrong and allow him to lead the World Cup T/20 team.

Cricket crazy Sri Lankan fans want the team to win. Nothing short of victory would quench their thirst. There’s enough time to get the squad back to winning ways.

[email protected]