Sometime back we were known as a cricket crazy nation, and some of us had become cricket fanatics but this fanaticism for cricket is now hitting an all time low. Sri Lankan cricket was on the decline. As it happens in product lifecycles, Sri Lankan cricket too reached its saturation point and has recently reached [...]


Lifecycle of Sri Lankan cricket and the concept of Product Lifecycle


Sometime back we were known as a cricket crazy nation, and some of us had become cricket fanatics but this fanaticism for cricket is now hitting an all time low. Sri Lankan cricket was on the decline. As it happens in product lifecycles, Sri Lankan cricket too reached its saturation point and has recently reached the stage of decline. The product – ‘cricket’ went through all four stages of its lifecycle from development (introduction) stage to growth stage then to the maturity stage and it has now reached the declining stage.

With the formation of Colombo Cricket Club in 1832, Ceylonese were handed over another gift by their colonial masters – ‘the game of cricket’. The locals gradually mastered this game, they learned the art of playing, mastered its customs, learned the laws of cricket, followed the culture and the traditions associated with it and lifted the spirit of the game. No sooner, the countrymen too became obsessed with the game, and also became knowledgeable of nitty-gritty of cricket.

The obsession was such that some became fanatics of the game. The game became an important part of social life. The noble sport evolved over the last two centuries, moved across oceans to all corners of the globe. Cricket is now played in all continents. Cricket is a popular sport now.

Various stages of it’s life cycles that Sri Lankan cricket went through since the introduction of this gentlemen’s game by the colonial masters, are similar to a life cycle of a product in a changing market environment. The performance of Sri Lankan cricket up until 2015 was remarkable. Generally a product goes through four stages in its lifecycle in a changing market before it hits the declining stage. Sri Lanka cricket too passed the four stages of its product life cycle, the introductory, the growth, the maturity and the declining.

Introductory Stage

Cricket was introduced to this beautiful Island in the 1800s. The first official cricket club was the Colombo Cricket Club which was formed in 1832. The first national cricket team was formed in 1880s. The club tournaments were introduced much later in the 1920s or 1930s. Sri Lanka was then called Ceylon and the national team was called Combined Ceylon or All Ceylon. England and Australia frequented to play matches when en route to other destinations in the subcontinent or to their respective countries. The calibre of players and the kind of cricket played by Ceylonese among other criteria could have been definite considerations for Ceylon to be granted Associate Membership of ICC in 1965. Ceylon cricket was now moving to the next stage of the lifecycle.

Growth Stage

From1960s to 1990s cricket was growing and Sri Lankan team became a force to be reckoned with. They made a mark in International Cricket when they beat India (a full member of ICC) at a World Cup encounter in 1979. Sri Lanka was ranked fifth in this World Cup tournament. It was a remarkable achievement for an ICC Associate Member. During this period especially from the 1970s players from various schools throughout the Island joined the national side.

It was a sign of Sri Lankan cricket coming of age. During this period, school cricket was at its best. Some schoolboys even represented leading clubs in premier cricket tournaments, while playing for their school teams. Sri Lanka had the honour of producing the first schoolboy (Anura Ranasinghe from Nalanda College) to play in a World Cup tournament. Inter-club competitions drew large crowds. Cricketers became house hold names. This was a logarithmic growth.

Maturity Stage

Sri Lankan cricket reached its maturity when they beat New Zealand at Napier in 1995, which became their first overseas Test victory. The Sri Lankan cricket team reached its prime when they won the World Cup at Gaddafi Stadium Pakistan in 1996 beating the mighty Australians. Since then the team has been consistently winning a host of matches home and away. The new players who joined the team were found to be equally competent as the seniors.

During this period Sri Lankans were propelling the ranking charts. Period between, 1995 to 2015 can be called the golden Era of Sri Lankan Cricket. During this stage Sri Lankan cricket reached great heights, winning the World Cup, twice becoming runners-up in World Cup competitions, winning the T20 World Championship and twice being the runners-up.

Declining Stage

The decline started since 2016. Three senior players of international repute retired in quick successions. Retirement of these greats saw Sri Lanka entering the declining phase of its product lifecycle. Much was expected from the new players who replaced them but were found wanting. There had been a constant turnover of players due to selection blunders. The team performance was inconsistent. At times it hit the rock bottom. Sometimes the attitudes espoused by the players were not acceptable to the cricketing public. Sporadic victories were recorded on some tours, yet it was not good enough. It was a steady downfall for Sri Lanka cricket. The recently concluded South African tour saw Sri Lanka cricket hitting a new low. West Indies and Australian cricket teams had similar declines. When a team reaches its maturity stage complacency sets in. It is similar to a product in the maturity stage of its lifecycle.

Is there a way of regaining the lost prestige? Yes Sri Lankan cricket can regain its past glory. Supporters of Sri Lankan cricket are sure that they will be able to witness a repeat of good of the hey days from 1990s to 2015.


How can a team be rebuilt after periods of obscurity? Different strategies need to be adopted to re-develop a market for a product in a declining stage? Same can be applied to cricket too. First the transformation from a losing mentality to winning mentality should take place immediately. The specific issues that should be addressed will have to be identified. Selections will have to go on a different direction focusing on team building for the future? Sri Lankans are traditionally a resilient lot Cricketers can be resilient too.

Can the Sri Lankan cricket team replicate the success of 1996, 2007 and 2011 teams in this World Cup? A complete out-of-the-box thinking to revamp Sri Lankan cricket is needed at this hour. With only three or four world class players, it is difficult to reach the status of 1996, 2007 and 2011 teams. If it happens it can be a miracle. Yes, miracles too can happen.

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