Saturday, 7 January 2012

Sri Lanka, what must thou do now?

2-1, the result of their latest test series against South Africa, 1-0 against Pakistan,  1-0 against England and 1-0 against Australia, 11 test matches this year, losing 5 and winning just one.  Sri Lanka is hardly the team they were when Muttiah Muralitharan was there, now they seem to be going downhill.  Dilshan and his men have a lot of questions to answer, a lot of improvement to do if they want to regain their status as one of the best test teams . They have even gone down one place in the ICC test rankings from number 5 to 6.
 Yet, when you look at the Sri Lankan line-ups throughout 2011 and the series in South Africa, names such as Sangakarra, Jayawardena and Dilshan make you think that this team surely has some of the best players, their bowlers too such as Welegedera, Fernando and Herath make you believe that this really is a good line-up, but why do they keep failing again and again?
Dilshan has to go, its as simple as that. He doesn’t have good tactics, has bad judgment and has failed to be an impact player like expected. He takes decisions which turn out not to be too smart later on, a  simple example would be the latest test match between sri lanka and south Africa which they lost by 10 wickets, Dilshan won the toss and chose to bowl first. That was a huge mistake because it resulted in South Africa putting up a huge total of 580-4 on the board. Dilshan has been highly criticized because of this decision, and he well deserves to be. Cape Town was a good batting pitch, batting paradise more like it, had Sri Lanka batted they may have put up a huge first innings total and put pressure on the opposition, just like the second test in Durban.
 I bet if Dilshan didn’t have Mahela and Kumar to go to for advice and help at times and even during matches, the team would be in an even worse position now. Dilshan isn’t a good captain, its as simple as that. It would be great for Sri Lanka if Mahela or Kumar, anyone of them took over the captaincy again, if asked to do so, I’m not sure if they would accept or not. Which is why then Matthews comes in mind, he is a good cricketer no doubt, but still a bit young I think. I see Dinesh Chandimal as a future captain.
Sri Lanka has really good batsmen in my opinion, each of them. But they have had a huge tendency to collapse recently, considering that they have been bowled out for less then 200 in 7 innings in 2011, and not too forget being bowled out for 82 against England in Cardiff. Their batting line up has become really fragile recently, three-four batsmen would build up partnerships and get the team out of hot waters, one or two heroes, but the problem is, their batting line up has not been scoring runs as a team, collectively. If one person makes a 100, other two people will get out in very low scores. The big three, Dilshan, Kumar and Mahela have hardly fired together. Dilshan has just been throwing his wicket away, as an opener its his job to stick in there, and as captain that adds more responsibility, but he has shown to have very poor temperament. He has to work on his batting, and perhaps change his technique if he wants to be a successful test batsman. Sangakarra, he has been really good, very consistent, no doubt Sri Lankas best batsman in 2011. I have no complaints against him, he should keep up his performance.
Now mahela, oh mahela! WHERE HAVE YOU GONE?  He has been completely out of form in tests, he has hardly contributed to the Sri Lankan scores which is not at all what is expected from a key class player like him. Here are his scores in test innings in 2011: 4, 15, 49, 25, 4, 6, 11, 105, 4, 51, 51, 28, 4, 6, 5, 39, 20, 30, 15, 31, 14, 20, 1. Lets be honest, only a few of these scores are of note. He may be a big player, but if he keeps performing like this, Sri Lanka will have to make a decision on him, which is why he must find form quick, return to his old batting self. I, personally, am a huge fan of him, and these scores have really disappointed me.
 If these three main batsmen fire together, then their batting will really be dominating. Then theres, Samaraweera, he may be old, but is a really good batsmen. One of the few who actually provided resistance from Sri Lankas side in South Africa, the Sri Lankan cricket board made a mistake in dropping him for their series against Pakistan, so once again poor decisions affected them.
 The Sri Lankan bowlers aren’t bad, they’re pretty good infarct. Herath is one of the best spinners in international cricket nowadays; Suraj Randiv can be lethal too. Their fast bowlers such as Fernando, Welegedera, Perera and Shaminda Erenga aren’t as terrible as their figures suggest. In my opinion Sri Lanka actually has some good bowlers, but not to the class of Murali and Malinga of course. These bowlers have been hurt due to poor fielding and a lot of dropped chances, such as in the recent Cape Town test, Jacques Kallis was dropped before he had even reached 50, the damage he did later was huge. Basically, their bowlers have not been too well supported, and they suffer because of the absence of a leader. They have no one to look upon to, to provide them inspiration.
 The bowlers have also suffered due to poor decisions by their current captain. They have failed to bowl out their opposition a lot of times in 2011, but I firmly believe that its not poor bowling which is the reason for this. Sri Lanka have to improve their fielding and catching, bowlers and captain need to learn how to apply pressure on the other team so that after they get a breakthrough, they can sniff a few more chances.
They haven’t been doing a very good job I believe, they have taken some poor decisions which have affected the team. Such as the axing of Samaraweera for the Pakistan tests, the logic behind it was stupid considering how Sri Lanka needed gritty and experienced batsmen to counter our teams superb bowling and also to play according to the tough UAE conditions.  The Sri Lanka cricket board will have to take some tough, but important decisions ahead if they want Sri Lanka cricket to improve and not keep going downhill, to restore its prestige.
They should have stripped Dilshan of his captaincy after the tests against Pakistan, but they stuck with him and the results still haven’t been good. If they still stick with him as captain, then it’ll be easy to say who’s to blame for these poor results.
The Sri Lankan selectors made a mistake
in dropping him for the Pakistan test series. 
What I fear, for Sri Lanka cricket, is that Mahela, Dilshan, Kumar and Thilan all are in their 30’s and don’t have many playing years ahead of them. So, does Sri Lanka have replacements for these class players? Do they have youngsters who are capable to fill their shoes? Look what has happened after Murali retired, the aftermath could be worse when these four retire. Sri Lanka must groom batsmen to replace these guys, otherwise the future seems grim.
All the best to Sri Lanka for their future tests, this is a testing period for them, lets hope they can come out of it strongly by performing as a team, at least for their fans who are slowly losing heart.


  1. Im your biggest fan in the wholewide world. May God give more power to your pen.
    You need to talk to me :). Lots to share with you so that your knowledge about the game you so dearly love increases.
    Get in touch.
    Ps: I love this Mashallah.
    Mohammad Bilal Munir

  2. Thank you so much (:
    Do you have a twitter? i'd love to get in touch.

  3. Oh my gosh its you, i have heard so much about you! Would definitely love to get in touch!

  4. Good Read Zobia !
    First of all Tim Holt showed me your blog :-)
    And I'm a Sri Lankan.

    On article, you have made few good points. Yes, captaincy is a problem. But at that time Sri Lanka didn't had much options when Mahela & Sanga refusing to captain the side. So can't blame Dilshan for that. He did his best.
    Most probably there will be a change in the captaincy after this South Africa tour.

    As you said we should groom young batsmen from now. There are many talented youngsters at the moment. Dinesh Chandimal, Bhanuka Rajapaksha, Dimuth Karunarathna, Lahiru Thirimanne, etc. In fact these are the best bunch of young batsmen we produced in recent 10 years. All of them are under 23. I personally believe some of these can achieve much much greater levels than Sanga & Mahela.

    Unfortunately to groom youngsters, we have to drop 1 or 2 veterans (Sanga, Mahela, Thilan, Dilshan). Considering the current form, obvious choice should be Mahela and/or Dilshan.

    Well done Zobia ! I'm now following you on twitter ;-)

  5. Enjoyed reading this very much Zobia.

    Personally, I dont think the SL bowling attack is quite as strong/blameless as you make them..

    Maybe a top quality bowling coach a.k.a. someone like David Saker would help them towards a consistency which they are currently lacking.

    So good to see such an insightful article from someone so young.


    Danny Brown