The arrival of new Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha will certainly usher in a new era for cricket in Sri Lanka. One of Hathurusingha’s strengths as a coach is that he is very methodical and pays attention to the details.
Prior to the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales, Sri Lanka will play around 30 ODIs and 12 T-20 Internationals. The announcement of a pool of 23 players ahead of next month’s ODI series in Bangladesh gives you an indication what’s behind Hathurusingha’s elusive mind.
For the last few months, Sri Lanka’s batting woes have been highlighted but on the current tour to India, the batsmen have shown signs of coming out of the slump. If the bowlers had managed to keep India’s total in the region of 220 in Indore during the second T-20 International, Kusal Perera perhaps could have pulled off a stunner.
Sri Lanka’s bowling lacks penetration. Apart from bowling out the strong Indian side in helpful conditions in Dharamsala, the bowlers have struggled in the remainder of the series in the shorter formats of the game.
Among the 23 players announced in the squad, there is this little heard 22-year-old Shehan Madhusanka. Don’t be surprised if he is picked in the eventual squad of 15 players. Madhusanka hails from down south and regularly clocks 140kmph. He featured during the recent T-10 League in UAE and troubled some big names in the sport although his returns weren’t that great. The wiry Madhusanka is also a top class fielder and Hathurusingha sees him as a star in the making although these are early days for him.
Like how he unearthed Mustafizur Rahman out of obscurity, Shehan Madhusanka could go on to have a big impact by the time the World Cup comes.
The inclusion of two wrist spinners in the pool is an indication that Sri Lanka are looking to go the way India went. When Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were overlooked for shorter formats of the game, it came as a surprise to many as both players are ranked high in Tests and contribute significantly with the bat. Jadeja also is India’s best fielder.
However, what Ravi Shastri has opted for is wicket taking options and both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have given that option. They have been a thorn in the Sri Lankan flesh in the ongoing series.
That is exactly the role Hathurusingha is expecting from Jeffrey Vandersay and Lakshan Sandakan. A wrist spinner may cost you 70 runs, but he will get you three wickets, something that has been lacking in Sri Lankan bowling armoury these days.
Vandersay was one of Sri Lanka’s stand out performers during the World T-20 last year and there was big hope on him. However, he picked up an injury while attempting a return catch during training and his progress has been hampered since then. The 27-year-old has had a few disciplinary issues since then and didn’t feature in the ODI series against India.
Leg-spin is one of the most difficult arts and you need characters to practice that difficult skill and the sooner Sri Lanka get Vandersay back to the fold the better it will be.
Read More : Genuine all-rounders, the need of the hour
There is also a sigh of relief as Kusal Mendis has found his way back into the pool after some decent performances in domestic cricket. Sadeera Samarawickrama, although didn’t score some big runs during the tour of India, his work ethic is such that it is just a matter of time until he makes a big impact. He is going to give Sri Lankan fans much joy in years to come.
The decision to have all 23 players shortlisted for the Bangladesh tour available for training as one group having been exempted from domestic cricket gives Hathurusingha an opportunity to work with the players closely and decide on the ones who will form the nucleus of the side looking at the bigger picture in 2019.
You will also see him extensively using a Perth based psychologist to work with the team. Already the team’s Test players who have worked with him have been forwarded a questionnaire containing 40 questions on different subjects of the day to day life. The players have to answer these questions and they will be then forwarded to the psychologist to assess the mindset of each player.
The novel coaching methods that Hathurusingha has brought in augurs well for Sri Lankan cricket. This year has been an extremely tough one for the national cricket team as the team hit new lows. There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel as Hathurusingha has brought in fresh thinking and exciting times are ahead for the team.