Cricket issues should be discussed deeply
As Sri Lanka endures the challenge of the Test match posed by Zimbabwe after the forgettable One Day series, it's important and imperative to understand as to what was the cause of Sri Lanka's defeat in the ODI series. Has Sri Lanka cricket declined beyond redemption, or is there any other factor that has caused this current predicament, should be discussed and debated in a wider forum?
If one was to be brutally honest about the ground reality, then it has to be accepted that Sri Lanka cricket has had a gradual decline.
With the retirements of the legendary Sangakkara, Jayawardane and Dilshan and with the younger players groomed to take their places not meeting the specialized standards, obviously the Sri Lankan cricketing authorities had a massive challenge to face. Had some of these players matured and kicked on, Sri Lanka by now would have had perfect replacements for the said trio and would have been dominating the rest of the world.
In reality, there is still only one player of class in the batting who is tried and tested - and that is Mathews. The rest have shown glimpses without being the real thing, which is the biggest issue facing Sri Lanka cricket.
Why players of the calibre of Lahiru Thirimanne, Ashan Priyanjan and a few other names haven't achieved greatness despite so much of promise is something that has to be investigated. Especially in the case of Thirimanne, who none other than Kumara Sangakkara singled out for greatness is the biggest mystery. This is true when one considers his achievements in the Asia Cup, the World Cup etc. before he appears to have faded away. From a Sri Lankan cricket point of view, sooner such players' remerge is better for the game in the country
As for the ODI series against the eleventh ranked team in the world and the defeat, I honestly don't want to think it was caused due to a decline in standard, though it should be clearly stated that fielding and bowling in particular left much to be desired. Sri Lanka as a team still has enough talent to compete. The case of Wanidu Hasaranga is a clear example and a case in point. Where did he come from? Obviously from the system and graduated. He wasn't alone either.
Lahiru Kumara is making strides and Asitha Fernando, who was blooded in the 4th ODI and discarded, too, is from the system. I wonder when Sri Lanka last had three players from the U-19 coming through in a short span since possibly the days of Mahela Jayawardane and Kumara Sangakkara? Even in that case it was just the two of them.
Then having the likes of Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilake, Lakshan Sandakan, Amila Aponso, Akila Dhananjaya to name a few, confirms the wealth of talent that cricket in Sri Lanka has at its disposal. I am sure the list can be much longer. So what is the issue then for Sri Lanka to lose? Why are they struggling when put to the test?
Again this is another area that needs examination to understand it. Otherwise how can Sri Lanka field as much as close to forty players in the last two years?
My view on the Zimbabwe series is that the visitors played better and executed their plans far more effectively than the hosts. So, all credit is due to them for a magnificent effort.
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