Sri Lanka’s fielding has continued to be a cause for concern over the past couple of years and despite putting on one of their better fielding efforts during the past two days, the errors made have still been costly.
This was brought to forefront of our minds once again last evening when Dilruwan Perera, fielding at Gully, put down a relatively straightforward chance off the bat of Soumya Sarkar in the 3rd over of the Bangladeshi innings. Nearly 15 overs later, Sarkar’s partner Tamim Iqbal was put down by wicket keeper Niroshan Dickwella, this time off the bowling of Perera. Both proved to be costly misses as the pair put on 100 plus runs for the 1st wicket, giving Bangladesh as good a start as they could have hoped for.
Speaking at the press briefing at the end of the 3rd day’s play Coach Graham Ford said, “If we had got the two openers out pretty early on, there would have been a totally different amount of pressure in the dressing room across the way there. But you know the ifs and buts in cricket, one inch made a big difference in Kusal Mendis’ innings. We can’t really look back too much we’ve got to keep looking forward and looking to try and raise our standards as much as possible.”
Sri Lanka went to put down one more chance in that innings, with Asela Gunaratne dropping Mehedi Hasan when he was on 11. Once again it was a costly miss as the partnership which stood at 19 when the opportunity was given, swelled to a frustrating 106 before Sri Lanka were finally able to make the breakthrough.
What’s important to note is that the catches and in fact the mis-fields are not necessarily coming from one group of players, be it the older ones, or the slower ones or the generally ‘unathletic’ ones; sometimes it is even those who are generally considered good fielders, as in case of Gunaratne. One of the reasons for this is perhaps the positions in which these players field and Ford seemed to echoed that idea. “Some of the boys are more natural than others as fielders and with a fairly new side and with one or two very new players to the side, finding fielding positions and making sure you’ve got guys in the right positions is also a bit of a challenge at this point.”
Although it is somewhat unreasonable to expect a perfect fielding performance every time the team steps on to the field, the Sri Lankan players and Coaches will no doubt be aware of the fact that fielding remains as perhaps their weakest facet of the game and if Sri Lanka are to progress on the world stage, they will have to get their act together.
Speaking on this, Ford went on to say, “You want to try and have a clean sheet every time you go out there. There were a couple of chances that we missed out on, not that easy though, they were fairly tough but if you want to be a top side in world cricket you need to try and take as many of those as you can.”