After Sri Lanka won the plum of cricket the ICC World Cup in 1996, we became known as a country to the entire world. Since we had performed admirably both in ODI’s and Tests. Our cricketers had broken many world records in both formats.
However, our standard of cricket in all formats have since diminished in the current decade. To date we are at an alarmingly low decline. Emphasis is now made for our chances at the ongoing South African tour, the ICC World Cup to be held in England and Wales in June 2019 in lest than100 days’ time, then the T 20 WC in 2020 in Australia. In parallel to the performances of the rest of the teams our chances are very bleak which is proved beyond doubt matching with the ODI rankings. We may probably need to play in a qualifying round before playing in the tournament proper. However, as underdogs all ardent cricket admirers would keep fingers crossed with buoyancy for us to perform laudably to reinstate pride.
In the recent past Sri Lanka has performed in a dismal manner in all formats. This calamity warrants an immediate diagnosis. The composition of teams in the shorter formats is vital to rebuild lost pride. During the current past there had been drastic changes made abruptly in the cricketing structure, regarding coaches, supporting staff, selectors, changes in captaincy, players, then the emphasis on match fixing allegations probed by the ICC. The latter is of great concern of breaching the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption code. A former skipper when charged with two counts had said he had always acted with integrity and transparency. However, the former skipper and national team selector is accused of failing to cooperate with the ICC anti-corruption unit of the cricket’s world governing body. The former skipper is indicted trying to conceal, tamper or obliterate evidence crucial to the probe. This has caused a lot of speculation among the cricket loving public domestically and internationally. All these above factors combined may have been the root cause for the recent debacles.
However, in the amid of the above we are compelled to prepare ourselves for the ICC shorter format World Cups. It need to be emphasized that we have more chances in the ICC T 20 World Cup which also consists of all twelve ICC full members and four other associate members chosen for the T20 World Cup qualifier. It is ascertained that we would not be automatically absorbed into the next edition of the T20 World Cup but will have to be qualified. It is pertinent to reveal that the ICC T20 tournament commenced its first edition in year 2007 was held every two years. Sri Lanka had been runners up in year 2012 in the 4th edition while were champions in the 5th edition hosted by Bangladesh in year 2014.
In the shorter formats more particularly in the recent 50 over format our batsmen had failed to bat through the entire quota of overs. This was to some extent in the T 20 format also. In the last T 20 concluded recently against NZ we lost with three overs remaining. The obvious reason was that our tail was too long which could not wag but succumbing easily without resilience. In the 3rd ODI against NZ our last four wickets fell without adding a single run. New strategies need to be adopted in the composition of the team for shorter formats. The selectors should focus on bowlers who could contain the batsmen who also could bat. In the only NZ T 20 encounter there were three pacemen chosen who were not good batsmen at all. The selectors could have dispensed with two pacemen, replaced with two allrounders to make our tail short. When there are top order batsmen who could bowl spin even a specialist spinner could have been dispensed with. The composition of the team should be in the forefront in the psyches of the selectors, if we are to make any impact to be a power to be reckoned with in the shorter formats. The SLC should arrange a series of shorter format matches between the possible and probable before the ideal squad is named.
Sunil Thenabadu@hotmail.com.........in Brisbane