Cup - ideal test to judge our strength - Mohan de Silva
By Bernie Wijesekera
"Sri Lanka cricket must build a strong
outfit for the World Cup - 2007.A balanced team. A blend of youth
and experience. The forthcoming Asia Cup to be staged here, next
month will be an ideal barometer to judge our standards" said
the President of Sri Lanka Cricket, Mohan de Silva in an interview
with The Sunday Times.
Silva made these comments to a question posed to him with regard
to the preparation for the next World Cup to be staged in the Caribbean
(W. Indies - 2007).
With India and Pakistan grooming young blood with an eye for the
future, what have Sri Lanka cricket administrators and the selectors
done to overcome, with some of the seniors apparently losing their
vim and vigour, with years rolling by?
A: Our cupboards are empty with regard to talented players
to take over. Mahela Jayawardena and Marvan Atapattu, failed during
the last World Cup in 2003 held in South Africa. Some of the seniors
have not shown consistency. But there was no one with potential
to replace them.
What's the remedy?
A: We must focus much attention to give that much-needed
exposure to the young prospects to indulge in competitive cricket
regularly at home and away against international 'A' teams of equal
strength. They should be on the wings to be drafted at short notice
to the national team. To achieve this objective the S.L.C. has invested
much on the 'A' team.
took over office in 2003, when the administration was found wanting.
Quick to move in and arrange reciprocal 'A' team tours against S.Africa,
Zimbabwe, India and New Zealand. The likes of Ian Daniel, Rangana
Herath, Tilina Kandambi were among the members of the team. But
we are not happy with the results. However, it takes time. One can't
be performing miracles overnight.
Anything to do with the varying playing conditions whilst playing
away from home?
A. Excuses are not the panacea for the ills. They must
adjust themselves and possess mental toughness. Apparently teams
making tours to the sub-continent have to play on dust bowls. They
have adjusted themselves admirably. Good example - the Indian team
playing in Australia playing on fast bouncy pitches came on top.
The experienced Lankan batsmen will have to adjust their techniques
and do likewise.
They are all professionals at present times and play a professional
game de Silva said.
The young players need regular exposure in competitive cricket at
international level - 'One Swallow does not make a Summer'?
A. You are right. We have made a close scrutiny and have
studied the process and have taken corrective steps.
What's your next 'A' team tour?
A. A tour to England.
It's heartening to see Mike Tissera has been harnessed to cricket
management to handle the 'A' team. Soft-spoken Tissera has the acumen
to uplift the game among the youngsters.
A. Tissera is the ideal person to handle a young team.
The S.L.C. made the correct choice. Like a horse to the course.
He has the correct credentials to handle the 'A' team and build
it for the future betterment of the game. He's on a six-month contract.
The youngsters have much to learn from him on and off the field.
Time that we forget petty issues. Forget the past. All must join
hands and work for the right reasons. Put the country before self.
There is much talk about Stan Nell's appointment as 'A' Team coach?
A. He has been contracted for two years. Stan has all the
ingredients to be a competent coach. Has been the head coach for
the Victoria Cricket Centre, and to the Monash University. He has
prepared and delivered coaching programmes - including budget on
a yearly basis. Also served as head coach for Hawthorn and Monash
University and has administrative skills, too. The S.L.C. wants
to enhance the scope of the local Academy by infusing modern techniques
to and methods pertaining to present-day International cricket.
Look at cricket Australia - their base is sound - with an administration
totally committed. The Commonwealth Bank Cricket Academy, in Adelaide,
is run by men that matter. Their 'A' team forms the nucleus. It's
oozing with talent. Could walk into the national team at any given
time. Talented Michael Clarke was one of them who was here in the
last Aussie tour.
Mike and Stan could be an ideal combination?
A. Yes. Stan, serving from the base and Tissera moving
the ball for the youngsters and for Sri Lanka cricket to enjoy a
The S.L.C. has not put old wine in a new bottle, but new wine in
an old bottle?
The recent tour to Zimbabwe there were records aplenty to be etched
in the Record Books (The Wisden)?
A. No doubt it was a great achievement. But apparently
against a mediocre team. With all these personal efforts, Sri Lanka
is still placed seventh in the Test Table. The players and the administrators
must make a concerted effort to put other issues to the backyard
to uplift the game where Lankan cricket reached the Everest after
winning the W.C. in 1996. The best advertisement after orange pekoe
Don't you think it should have been better, the Lankan team in the
recent tour of Zimbabwe gave playing opportunities to the youngsters
in the side against the beleaguered Zimbabwe side?
A. Totally agree with you. The tour management should have
rested some of the seniors in the team for the Second test and played
the likes of Ian Daniel, Kandambi instead. Individual records don't
serve the team's cause for the future. In the end records are forgotten,
but the team's success that matters to uplift the country's image
said, de Silva.
Any comments about the composition of the selection panel?
A. Yes, a panel of five could have been appropriate. The
likes of Madurusinghe and Don Arunasiri have been included to oversee
the provinces and spot talented players and give them the adequate
opportunities to compete at the top level. There are two sides in
a coin. Let's leave it there.
What have you got to say about the SLC finances. There is much talk
floating around that there is a financial crisis. Any comments?
A. You are right. At this juncture, we are faced with a
crisis. Mainly due to over capitalisation and Sri Lanka cricket
not being able to secure appropriate commercial values mainly due
to the instability in the administration. Also due to adverse media
publicity which has tarnished cricketing image locally and internationally.
However we are slowly, but surely rebuilding our image that, too
with a proper re-structuring programme. Within a couple of weeks
could come out of the crisis. We are confident of the future.
Why only two test matches and a solitary side game for the coming
tour to Australia?
A. Australia has a tight schedule. This is the only period
that they could accommodate us. The fixtures were planned well ahead.
No ad-hoc decisions. No one could be blamed. The one-dayers have
already been played in the year 2002 December to year 2003 January.
This was done purely to overcome Sri Lanka's financial difficulties.
Instead of three one-dayers - eight matches - four each against
Australia and England - in the VB series. The SLC is grateful to
What have you got say about the ongoing Muralitheran's 'doosra'
delivery which has stirred a hornet's nest?
A. We need the support of all Sri Lankans. SLC is part
of the ICC and has to respect and abide by its decision. But strongly
urge them to review the current levels and think rationally considering
the principles of natural justice in their decision-making process.
Decide a permanent solution and close its chapter once and for all.
Murali has suffered immensely as a result. 'Justice delayed, Justice
denied' said Mohan de Silva.