Though it was psychologically encouraging, the win against the West Indies could not be taken as the yardstick of balance in international cricketing strength, according to SLC’s Interim Coach Jerome Jayaratne.
“In reality the West Indies combination was not the best on paper and we always were a notch ahead of the opposition. At the same time, though we played the series on home conditions the wickets were not out and out turners and even the match-winning effort of Herath came through his own ingenuity rather than help from the wicket,” Jayaratne stated.
“The only difference was the slowness of the wickets. So, when we take our next challenge – the New Zealand tour into consideration -- even the West Indies pace attack could not be taken as a precursor. At the same time unlike the Windies, New Zealand fast bowlers would be more in line and they would be sticklers for accuracy. All in all it would take a beating to come on par with Kiwi proposition.”
Jayaratne sees the lack of a solid first class tournament as the reason for the slump in standards.
Generally in a real professional international cricket outfit like what is present in other countries such as Australia, England, New Zealand or even India, the general facilities for a first class outfit are multifaceted.
For instance he said, in a county outfit in England, they are equipped with the same facilities as an international outfit, so the adjustment from first class cricket to international cricket is fluid.
“What happens in Sri Lanka is different. There is a huge gap between club cricket and international cricket. As a result the real graduation of a cricketer begins only after he is selected to one of the coaching entities run by the system. Then the process delays by a few years at least. This is a huge drawback to our cricket,” he said.
Jayaratne reiterated that in spite of winning the last series, the team has its own vulnerable slots.
He said: “We still feel that the two openers’ berths are under scrutiny. Out of the two Dimuth Karunaratne had a few good knocks while Kaushal Silva lagged behind during the past few outings.
“We still do not know who will man the vital number three slot in the Test outfit, though both Lahiru Thirimanne and Kusal Mendis were tried out.
“Dinesh Chandimal has come out and played few good knocks. He has to be more consistent in that position to be considered as a permanent link. At the same time, Chandimal and Thirimanne are two experienced campaigners. Generally in the first five batsmen should be able to score a century as a habit.”
By far the only batsman with any consistency is skipper Angelo Mathews who is slotted at number six in the ICC rankings.
Jayaratne also feels that at number seven the talents of Kusal Janith Perera are somewhat underused.
He feels that Kusal Janith has the temperament and the ability to fit the bill of a top order batsman.
But it is he who will have to make that change.
He says he will have to play a few more mature innings and the slot would be there for his asking.
In bowling, during the Kiwi tour the accent would be in seam bowling.
Dhammika Prasad is developing to be a reliable new ball operator, but, a lot would be expected from him for this tour.
Along with Prasad, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera may fit as the other seamers while left arm seamer Vishwa Fernando who bowled quite impressively during the New Zealand ‘A’ tour will be in the eyes of the national selectors.
In the Test leg, Rangana Herath will be the pivot in the spin department and there would be another spin operator, with Siriwardena playing the slot of left arm spinner cum number six bat, if things go as planned.