Sri Lankan test team can’t even survive the five days of cricket, let alone winning it. This is not an overnight change though. It all started back in the early 2010s. Since then, Sri Lankan cricket is touching the lows every day. Probably, it has reached the bottom, and possibly at its last to survive Sri Lanka cricket.
The span of 1996 to 2011 is considered as the golden period of Sri Lankan cricket. Sri Lanka played three world cup finals in that period. Even after those 15 years, the country produced many good players, who dominated the ICC rankings. In those 15 years, the squad’s fitness levels were quite high. Every member of the team could play 5-6 months of non-stop cricket without too many issues. However, the situation has changed even there.
However, the tables have now turned. There is no one in the top 10. Multiple players failed the fitness test after playing just a single match – against England. Unfortunately, a player was reported to have an alleged sexual relationship with the support staff. And there were other few consuming alcohols during the match days.
Account of Former Players
In the recent past, many former players have spoken about the team culture, which we’ve highlighted here.
According to Sri Lanka’s first test captain Mr. Bandula Warnapura, there is a major problem in the team management. Earlier, there was a unique culture in the SLC, which also created a better team culture. From the School cricket level, there was a system and structure to develop players for the international level. Now the system has collapsed. There is no such structure to identify and protect young talents.
As per Arjuna Ranatunga – the 1996 world cup winning Captain – SLC management and players are running after money instead of country pride. He suggested a pay cut if the team performs poorly, and encouragement for better performances.
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Former swashbuckling opener Sanath Jayasuriya talked about the lack of teamwork in the national team. According to him, there’s a clear lack of coordination between players and management. More or less, all players are trying to play for their own spot, instead of country and team. He also spoke about how the team selection is being influenced by certain player managers, instead of a performance-based selection. Because of these reasons, Sri Lankan cricket is missing out on many promising young talents.
Former cricketer and the under 19 coach, Avishka Gunawardana talked about the lack of focus on the school level and domestic tournaments. He mentioned that to be a primary reason for Sri Lanka’s ability to produce talented players at the highest level.
Many past cricketers believe that doubling up the first-class clubs – 28 from 14 – is yet another primary reason for the ever-decreasing quality. Unfortunately, some clubs neither have their own ground, nor a permanent team squad. Those clubs have been formed only to help to vote for certain members in the management.
At the moment, nearly 500 players of various talent levels are competing in first-class cricket. So, the quantity is killing the quality. Subsequently, the talent reaching the top-level isn’t as polished as it shall be.
Lack of Sri Lankan A Tours
In the past 2 years, there has been only one “A” tour for the Sri Lankan team. Subsequently, the chances of scouting the new talent at the international level are far and few.
At this juncture, Sri Lankan cricket is looking down the barrel. This is a crucial time to make major changes at the management level and reorganize the domestic structure, in order to resurrect Sri Lankan cricket.