Roshan Abeysinghe analyses the decisions taken by Sri Lanka in the selection process
An analytical mind isn’t required to understand and find answers to what went wrong in England and Wales, although it would be better to rephrase the question and ask: ‘What went right?’
The recent tour will go down in history as the worst by a Sri Lankan cricket team – provided of course, that our cricket doesn’t go any lower than it has.
For starters, if one expected Sri Lanka to defeat the world’s number one white ball team, he or she is living on another planet. Besides, the new selectors did shift policy and identified younger cricketers to give them the experience they need albeit at a price that runs the risk of defeat.
Obviously, analysing the outcome of such a decision or policy is bound to take time since plenty of repair work is needed in the process. And only time will tell whether the right course of action has been taken or blending experience with younger players would have been the better option.
It is the hope of all Sri Lankan cricket lovers that the answer will be a positive one at the end of the day.
My biggest issue is not with Sri Lanka losing to England since that was an expected outcome.
Instead, it is about the humiliation that the team suffered. That is painful to say the least and the manner in which the batsmen squandered their scalps was an indication of a lack of commitment or capacity, or game sense. Or could it have been a combination of the three?
How else can one explain why the batsmen came to be repeatedly dismissed in a similar manner during the series – i.e. the short ball, and set or senior batsmen getting out or not carrying their form from one game to the next. And how about falling into a trap when the script was clear?
I’m not sure whether any coach can rectify such errors as they should be considered as being basic – and a professional cricketer should deal with these issues when planning his game. That was found wanting more than ever and it played a big part in Sri Lanka’s batting debacle.
If there was the thinnest of silver linings in one of the darkest clouds that hovered over Sri Lankan cricket in England and Wales, it has to be the encouragement shown in the fielding and bowling departments.
As a fielding unit, the team in the past wasn’t sharp and never looked totally agile. So despite all the bad publicity, the team’s fielding effort has to be commended – and even though it didn’t set the world on fire, there were a few who could hold their heads up when it came to the bowling effort too.
Dushmantha Chameera stands head and shoulders above the rest while young Binura Fernando (who was back after a long break) showed plenty of hope – dismissing Jonny Bairstow in consecutive games by good bowling is an indication of his potential.
Wanindu Hasaranga is obviously the next name on the bowling list; it’s a pleasure to see a rare star emerging for Sri Lanka – especially considering how he batted too.
So the big decision now has to be about the way forward – i.e. whether to continue with the current crop in the hope of gaining experience (and with it, good performances) or change course.
The Indian series will naturally add even more pressure on the selectors to make that call as it’s a must win for Sri Lanka. Let’s hope that wisdom and knowledge in the decision-making process will prevail.