There was a fresh breath of air on Thursday when the newly formed Sanath Jayasuriya and Co came up with their new lineup of players who are supposed to take the game into the future. Why I used the word supposed is that under the previous viewpoint both Mathews and Chandimal were somewhat fall guys, [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Mission possible – 2013 version


There was a fresh breath of air on Thursday when the newly formed Sanath Jayasuriya and Co came up with their new lineup of players who are supposed to take the game into the future. Why I used the word supposed is that under the previous viewpoint both Mathews and Chandimal were somewhat fall guys, always having to look over their shoulders. 

Now the new selection committee has come out and taken some bold decisions without upsetting the applecart so heavily.
The onus is now on the younger brood to take up the challenge and add value to the status quo. This column always has adopted the line that if the team is not performing to expectations with the aging lot, changes should be effected with an eye to the future and that too should be done with a lot of wisdom.

When handing over the responsibility to the younger clan and take them up the order, there should be some faces who feel the hit up the line. Now it is Thilan Samaraweera and Prasanna Jayawardena — in the twilight end of their international careers — who have faced the brunt of the change. Yet, we suppose, with them in the line-up, one cannot keep a batsman in the calibre of Thilan Samaraweera who has a 48 runs per innings average to sulk in the dressing room while a ‘podian’ like Chandimal bats in his place at a Test match. Samaraweera’s irony was his wretched stay at the popping crease Down Under and that gave the present selectors the guts to make the move. It’s the same with Prasanna Jayawardena. Still he maybe the best stumper in the system, but if players like Kusal Janith Perera are not given the break in time we may be breeding frustration among the ranks.

It is none other than Sanath Jayasuriya who knows what happens when a player gets too stale in his position. Even a world renowned player can convert himself into a ‘Silva’ next door.

We see at least 99% of the new choices in the Emerging Squad to face the visiting Bangladesh team in the three-day game in Matara is futuristic and it is high time that someone looked through the local talent earnestly. Talking of the one percent in an atmosphere of our nature there should be even an inch left for the devour of the political greed.

There was a time that the second string local line-up read the same list of names even though they were proven failures. Names like Chamara Kapugedera, Chamara Silva and Jehan Mubarak almost never missed the eye of the selectors, but this time there is a marked change. Names like Angelo Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Ashan Priyanjan, Vishva Perera and even P.H.T. Kaushal who bagged a basketful of wickets in the Premier League tournament last week are now under the microscope at least. I am sure now the system will get its larder bigger than what it used to be.

The new stars of Lankan cricket in motion

At the same time the cricket board elections are also hotting up. What we learn is that once again there is likely to be a three-cornered tussle with former presidents polishing their claws and getting ready for the fight.

The grapevine says former SLC Presidents – Jayantha Dharmadasa, Thilanga Sumathipala and Arjuna Ranatunga — have been invited by the stake holders to carry their cross. Yet, Dharmadasa and Sumathipala have not made any public statements, but there was a sharp but short quip by Ranatunga in our sister Sinhala Daily “Ada”. He said it was the onus of the Minister of Sports to conduct a fair election and if the minister could vouch that it would be so he would not mind making it to the contest.

He also added that during the last cricket board elections there were certain pressures brought on and now those incidents are common knowledge.

He stated that he still was toying with the idea of contesting, because he had doubts about his freedom to carry on with his action plan if he was elected and added that he would also have to get rid of some of the rogue elements within the SLC. Ranatunga also queried whether there would be pressure brought on him if he tried to rid of these elements.

Finally he also queried the wisdom of making all these far reaching changes in the system with only a month to go for the elections. He was of the view that all these policy decisions should have been left for the incoming committee to scrutinise.

Nevertheless Ranatunga’s statement shows that he is keen on having a go at cricket’s chair at the helm and is watching every movement that the incumbent lot is making.

However let’s hope even this time we could see a straight battle of cricket’s wits taking place and the ultimate winner would be the game itself and not some puppeteer who has a string on every living thing within our shores.

Now moving onto the SLC machinery, we come back to the changes that are being effected within the system.

The move to shift former Sri Lanka captain and the incumbent batting coach Marvan Atapattu to the assistant coach’s position is commendable.

The Sunday Musings always has been of the view that a Lankan would understand the Lankan cricketers better and could communicate with the brood better than a coach from overseas. With the modern day openings, there is wherewithal that even a Lankan could go abroad and learn the latest coaching techniques. Yet, when a Lankan is there at the helm it would be easier to translate those techniques to the Lankan cricketers who now mostly hail from outstations.

The recent upsurge of young cricketers in their batting techniques and their fearlessness to face the best of the pace attacks in Australia prove that Atapattu has managed his part of the job effectively.

Explaining the plan behind this move, Sri Lanka Cricket Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said: “We are promoting Atapattu with an eye for the future. We are seriously looking at him taking over as the main coach on a future date, with Vaas assisting him.”
The SLC secretary added, “Once the nitty-gritty’s on Vaas is over he will take over as the fast bowling coach with Murali looking after the spinners. The incumbent fast bowling Coach Champaka Ramanayake will go back into the system and along with Anusha Samaranayake to look after the rest of the fast bowlers.”

Nishantha Ranatunga also added that they were impressed with Vaas’s view that a coach need not be present at every overseas trip.
He said Vaas had pointed out that to be an effective coach, one must keep working with the rest of the fast bowling contingent.
Vaas had proposed that the fast bowlers should go abroad on rotational basis so that all the coaches would be on hands-on position at any given time.

In the midst it is interesting to note the huge bidding wars that are going for the TV rights and the sponsorship rights of the Lankan cricketers and cricket. It is also learned that a portion of the sponsorship deal would work towards the women’s team too.
In whichever way, the Lankan cricket which was in the financial doldrums is now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel or a little more. No wonder now there is a bidding war brewing for the ‘big chair’ too.

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