Butter-fingered Sri Lankans in worst World Cup show | Sunday Observer

Butter-fingered Sri Lankans in worst World Cup show

9 February, 2020
Hashan Tillekaratne
Hashan Tillekaratne

Sri Lanka’s Under-19 cricketers entered the World Cup brimming with confidence on the back of a Tri-Series win in the Caribbean but the outcome turned upside-down hitting an all-time low show in the global showpiece.

Their coach Hashan Tillekaratne reflecting in retrospect labelled “below-par fielding” as the villain for the team’s worst show in World Cups.

“You must have seen, our fielding was below-par. That was one of the reasons, we couldn’t go for the first four. This has been happening for the past year or so. We have been discussing it and unfortunately our players couldn’t cope up with it.

“We missed so many opportunities, specially, against India where we gave around 25 runs on the field. Against New Zealand we missed two run-outs and a catch off a batsman, who got 80. So, that has been our downfall,” Tillekaratne told the Sunday Observer.

Asked in apropos to his prediction of wicket spinning, Tillekaratne said: “It did spin and there were quite a few opportunities. But, we couldn’t capitalise on it.”

Though Sri Lanka reached the Plate final for ousted teams, the players got a taste of their own medicine being battered, bruised and beaten by England whom they beat in the final at the Tri-series in the West Indies last December. Sri Lanka beat lowly rated Japan and Nigeria and lost to India and New Zealand in the group stage.

“I was very confident. Even prior to going for the World Cup, I wanted to finish in the top four. Preparation was very good. Unfortunately, our performance was below-par. We didn’t tap our potential. Expectations were very high. But, I’m very sad and disappointed about the result,” regretted Tillekaratne.

Coach and member of the 1996 World Cup winning team analysing the team’s output said that in the beginning they were enjoying themselves. However, it is during the Bangladesh tour that they were struck with the fear of failure.

“When we were in Bangladesh, the World Cup was two two-months away. They were playing for places and not giving the best. Actually, we had a discussion with the players. Performance-wise they were very inconsistent. But, there were quite a few individual performances, we can be happy about. Generally, I’m not happy about the contributions,” he said of the boys’ mind-set.

Looking ahead Tillekaratne disclosed they will be reviewing the performances.

“We need to get together as a support staff and we need to review where we went wrong and what are the positives and negatives and move forward.”

“I’m hoping to give a report to Sri Lanka Cricket, a presentation to the relevant people and we take it from there,” said Tillekaratne.

Commenting on the future he said: “I watched quite a few games in the North and East. There were quite a few talented guys. There was this guy from Jaffna Central College called Viyaskanth who played two matches. We trained him and he was very good. Unfortunately, he could not live up to the expectations.

“We still keep trying and we have to widen the game and give them facilities, so we’ll get more players coming from the North- East.”

It was during his time as a selector along with Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) initiated turf wicket at St. Patrick’s College, Jaffna, that turned out to be of very good initiative.

“Give them more fair opportunities. If we have this system for the next five-years, I believe that we can produce so many good cricketers from the North- East. I think a player from Jaffna played for Sri Lanka after 50 years. We have made the initiative and need to carry that forward,” Tillekaratne said.