After a year of disappointments, heart aches and endless pain for Sri Lanka Cricket in 2017, the year of 2018 can be looked upon as the dawn of a new era for the island nation.
Sri Lanka lost 40 matches across all formats in 57 games, winning only 14 games under 7 captains in 2017.
Can Sri Lanka change their fortunes in 2018? Under a new head coach, Chandika Hathurusingha, expect a positive batting lineup, a penetrative bowling attack and a solid fielding unit but most importantly a winning team in Tests, ODIs and T20Is.
Sri Lanka have had a pretty abysmal 2017 on the cricket field. The team’s record this year across formats is in fact one of the worst records for a Test playing…
Sri Lanka is most certain of playing at least 45-50 matches in 2018 and for the islanders to have at least a win percentage of 50%, they need a settled leadership and a consistent selection policy right throughout the calendar year.
They must stick to a settled leader in 2018 if they are to taste any success. Dinesh Chandimal has done a commendable job since being named as the Test skipper and do not be surprised if he takes over as the ODI captain as well. He has not been in good touch in limited-overs cricket lately but with the new head coach keen on improving his ODI game, expect a free-flowing Chandimal in ODI cricket.
According to reliable sources, there is a huge possibility of having two captains for Sri Lanka going forward under the tutelage of Hathurusingha, one Captain in Tests and ODIs and another in T20Is which would be a better option now. With the next T20 World Cup to be played in 2020, either Thisara Perera or someone like Kusal Janith Perera should be given the reins of shaping up a potent T20I team from 2018 itself.
Sri Lanka’s inconsistent selection has had a “big effect” on their disappointing state of affairs, especially in ODIs. Plenty of chopping and changing has not helped at all but with head coach Hathurusingha having a say on selection even though its unofficially, there could be only about 25-30 players in action in coloured clothing for Sri Lanka in 2018.
There are plenty of confirmed and tentative inbound and outbound tours for Sri Lanka Cricket in 2018 which could determine the impact of Hathurusingha, Sri Lanka’s last hope of regaining lost pride.
Sri Lanka’s first assignment in 2018 will be a full tour to Bangladesh to play a tri-nation ODI series which involves Zimbabwe, later two Tests and two T20Is against the hosts. This will also mark the start of ‘Hathurusingha’ era who has already done the ground work as the new national head coach, having started training with a preliminary squad of 23 to get Sri Lanka off to a winning start in 2018.It can be perceived as relatively ‘mild’ testing ground for the smarting Sri Lankan team to wet their feet in.
The lions will play in their own backyard in 2018 for the first time in March in a T20I tournament against India and Bangladesh. This is a brainchild of current SLC chief Thilanga Sumathipala to mark the 70th Independence of Sri Lanka as well as the 70th anniversary of Sri Lanka Cricket. Once again a good phase for re-building with home advantage for the islanders.
Sri Lanka tour of West Indies
After a decade-long gap, the Windies are set to host Sri Lanka for a three-match Test series in June in 2018. The Sri Lankans will travel to Caribbean Islands in the latter part of May and will return home in the end of June. The West Indies hob-knobbing with Sri Lanka at the bottom of the rankings in most formats, it will be an excellent test for Sri Lanka before taking on any big guns head on.
South Africa tour of Sri Lanka
Right after the Windies trip, Sri Lanka will take on the high-riding Proteas at home in July/August which will be an acid test. The final itinerary has not yet been confirmed but according to the ICC future-tours program, Sri Lanka will host only three Test matches but there is a likelihood of sneaking in a couple of ODIs as well.
The iconic Asia Cup will be an interesting tournament in 2018 as all the sub-continent teams will look to bask in the glory of becoming the champions of Asia. The tournament is scheduled to take place in September 2018 but the rising political tensions between India and Pakistan could force the tournament out of India.
England tour of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s final home assignment for 2018 will be against the Englishmen who will arrive in October for a full tour of three Tests, five ODIs and a single T20Is. The schedule is tentative but this will no doubt test both the teams.
Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand
Sri Lanka will cap off 2018 with a visit to New Zealand for a full tour with two Tests, three ODIs and one T20I and with the 2019 World Cup to be held in England, by the time the Kiwi series ends, the rejuvenated team will give a clear indication of their chances of making an impact in the next ICC event.
“Give us some time and we will start delivering. Doesn’t mean that we are going to beat everybody. But we will play that attractive cricket that people would like to see.” Hathurusingha recently said and all of Sri Lanka will cling onto that hope, promised in 2018.