No. 2 slot at stake

Sri Lanka will play only five Tests till next World Cup
By S.R. Pathiravithana

Sri Lanka cricket is looking very seriously to add some more Test matches outside their FTP (Future Tours Programme) up to the next World Cup in 2011. In spite of being ranked second in the World rankings at present Sri Lanka currently has only five Tests from now on leading to the World Cup which is scheduled to be played in the Indian sub-continent.

There will be only few occasions of this nature in Test cricket for Sri Lanka till the next World Cup with only five matches lined up. (Pic by Sanka Vidanagama)

According to the ICC's Future Tours Programme, Sri Lanka is scheduled to play only five Tests between now and May 2011. That is three against India in the November-December tour of 2009 and two against the West Indies at home in November-December 2010. However Sri Lanka’s Test ranking competitors – South Africa and India has lined up a huge itinerary during the same time-frame:

South Africa has four Tests against England at home in November 2009, three in India in February 2010, followed by four in the West Indies in May-June, three against Pakistan, and three more when they host India in late 2010-early 2011 making it a total of 17 Test matches.

India, just behind Sri Lanka on the table, at third place has the home series against Sri Lanka three Tests in November-December, two Tests against Bangladesh in January 2010, three against South Africa beginning February 2010, three when they host New Zealand in late 2010, and then three Tests on their return trip to South Africa in December 2010.

Then just following the 2011 World Cup India will travel to the West Indies for a 4 Test rubber in April 2011 making it a total of 18 Tests. When we inquired from the secretary of SLC Nishantha Ranatunga he said: “We are fully aware of this situation and we are in the process of looking for some consolation. We are trying to add even two or three more Test matches to the present five. However to get even one game the rest of the countries must be free in their FTP.

Gavin Fingelson will have a short stint with SLC where he will look into the fielding aspects.

We already have spoken to New Zealand, Australia and India – the three countries who have some respite from some Test matches to fill the void, but, those are still on the drawing-board stages. At the same time we will be receptive to any other Test playing nation who could find the time to spare. However most of these countries that do have breaks in their international calendar generally want their key players to be involved in their domestic tournaments.

Then the SLC secretary who has just returned from the ICC FTP meeting came up with some encouraging news too. He said that in the 2012-2020 FTP Sri Lanka had managed to clinch a full calendar with several meetings against Australia, England, South Africa and the West Indies besides the Asian circuit. He then added that he cannot divulge more details because the ICC has not officially made them public.

However the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) - the players' lobby group - has rejected the draft of the post-2012 Future Tours Programme (FTP) that was approved in principle by the governing body's executive board, the game's apex decision-making body.

Meanwhile in a bid to address the fielding aspect of Sri Lanka Cricket which was of much concern during the just concluded Champions Trophy tournament in South Africa SLC has sought the assistance of New South Wales fielding coach Gavin Fingelson to work with the local cricketers from the 19th to the 23rd of October.

During his stay Fingelson will work with the National Team, coaches of tier ‘A’ and ‘B’ clubs, the A team, the development squad the under 19 team and the Cricket academy. The preparations proper for the Indian Tour will begin on the 15th of October.

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