A few remedial measures moving forward after World Cup debacle

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Sri Lanka were knocked out of the World Cup with three games to spare and any chance of the team having a graceful exit from the sport’s showpiece event faded away after their embarrassing defeat in Bombay by the hosts.

It is true that not many had expected a team that had featured in the qualifying round of the World Cup to reach the semis but the batting debacle in Bombay was a disgrace and an eye opener.

Often it has been said that the skill levels of Sri Lankan players aren’t all that great and while there is a point there, these are professional players, whom you expect to sort out their game.

The humiliating defeat in Bombay has asked many questions and left with few answers. A revamp of the system is called for but we have been doing that since 2015 and only have become the laughing stock trying change pillows for headaches.

If skill levels are bad there are various layers to address the issue. The foremost of them is to ensure that we have a proper High Performance structure where players can work on their game.

Then, obviously, domestic cricket needs to be made competitive and over the years we have tinkered with the system without providing proper solutions. The other important aspect that needs to be addressed is regular opportunities to the under-19 side, development squad and the ‘A’ team.  It is players coming through these teams who are eventually going to represent the country.

Having a High Performance Programme is not going to solve all the problems but RPS where the High Performance Center is based need to be equipped with a swimming pool and an indoor net facility and it’s hugely disappointing that after all these years we have neither of those.

The HPC also needs to have qualified coaches who can plan and execute how players can be prepared for the demands of international cricket in the modern day.

Injury management is a key area that needs to be looked at and the system that we have in place and the persons looking after it have failed in their duties. Lessons should have been learned after last year’s debacle in Australia but we let grass grow under our feet and have lost key players for an event as big as the World Cup.

It is indeed a mystery as to how the authorities have failed to address injury woes to key fast bowlers like Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera. There is something drastically wrong for in other parts of the world fast bowlers aren’t so frequently injured.

The silver lining amidst this debacle is the way the young Dilshan Madushanka has performed accounting for some big wickets swinging the ball to deadly effect and using variations quite smartly in his later spells. There is a need to look after him so that he can go onto achieve greater things over the years.

Despite the horror performance against India some batters like Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama have fared reasonably well although there are a few glitches in their games like their defence as high quality fast bowling by the Indians exposed.

Selections is another area that needs to be addressed handing the job to competent individuals.

Making half a dozen seniors ineligible for the white ball format is debatable but more importantly when you look at the squad you realize that it is not a balanced one.

Sri Lanka struggled to replace one of the out of form middle order batters and with a proper batsman and eventually Dhananjaya de Silva was replaced by an all-rounder.

The selectors’ policy of depending on too many all-rounders, who can neither earn a spot in the team for their bowling nor for batting was recipe for disaster.

Warning signs had been there before that it will come to backfire but they were ignored and some harsh lessons had been learnt. We do not possess high quality all-rounders of the caliber of a Marco Jansen or Hardik Pandya and in desperation to try and find one we had been making too many experiments.

The other issue that needs to be addressed is the quality of wickets that we play both our domestic and international cricket. This has been an issue that even players have voiced concerns over the years.

On rank turners, we might be able to record a series win against Australia as it happened last year or beat other formidable opponents like South Africa and Pakistan, but on good wickets our players are badly exposed.

It’s a pity that we weren’t able to produce decent wickets for even a local tournament like the LPL.

There are whole lot of things that need to be addressed if we are to make progress in the sport and unless the authorities bite the bullet and take these harsh decisions, we are in for more humiliation.