Sri Lanka in Australia, 2012-13 December 9, 2012

Ford warning over ageing Sri Lanka stars


The Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford has warned that the team needs to start producing cricketers capable of replacing the star names in the side otherwise they will struggle to compete at international level.

Ford's assessment comes in the wake of captain Mahela Jayawardene stating that he would reassess his future after the current tour of Australia. Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera, who form the core of the team's batting, are all in their mid-thirties and the team needs to guard against being hit by mass retirements.

"What is really important for Sri Lanka cricket now is be aware that some of these players - superstars who have done great service to the game - are not going to be around for that much longer and an emerging player program of real intensity needs to be put in place urgently," Ford said. "We need to start producing some more superstars and we need it to happen pretty quickly. That I see as a very important part, as to the future for Sri Lanka."

Ford praised the role played by the senior figures in the dressing room at setting an example for the younger players coming into the game. He has tried to instil the notion of personal responsibility within the team and believes he is starting to see the benefit of that approach coming through.

"Some of them have done fantastically well and are very professional," he said. "We also have a few young guys who have come in and who have quite a bit to learn. Our coaches need to be a little bit different from player to player. The example set by some of the senior players is fantastic for the younger guys coming through. If we can keep that going, in time it will become part of the cricketing culture in the dressing room.

"I've really tried to introduce the adult approach in terms of players taking on the responsibility for their preparations and their performances. The coaching staff is always available to support them in whatever way they need, but they must make decisions about their cricket and how they are going to go about their business and for them to implement those decisions. I am really trying to get each individual to be as professional as possible."

Ford took over in controversial circumstances after Sri Lanka Cricket suddenly terminated the services of Geoff Marsh after just two tours to England and South Africa last year. He is thankful for the support given to him by Jayawardene, especially in helping to overcome some language barriers.

"Initially the language barrier with a number of players was a challenge, fortunately with a great captain and some of the senior players who do speak English pretty well and, the coaches I managed to overcome a lot of those challenges. They've been great in helping along the way."

Under Ford, and in the post-Muralitharan era, Sri Lanka are still striving for consistency. Since the change of coach they have played three home Test series, drawing against England and New Zealand either side of beating Pakistan 1-0. Results in one-day cricket have been mixed and there was also the crushing disappointment of the World Twenty20 final defeat against West Indies.

"I came in pretty suddenly and it all happened very quickly, so that was a challenge," Ford reflected. "It has been very enjoyable, there has been some tough times and tough days but part of what is exciting is to witness the fight and character within the group along the way over the ten months. On a number of occasions the chips have been down, times have been tough and they've bounced back fantastically in one-day cricket and Test match cricket. It's brilliant to be part of something like that.

"We have achieved reasonably well. The triangular in Australia was encouraging, just disappointing we couldn't win the final. Against England in the Test series, to win one against them when they were riding high as the No. 1 Test side was good but disappointing to let them level the series. It was a real opportunity to win a series against a top side. Against Pakistan, a very dangerous side, to win both Test and ODIs was a really good achievement.

"We were disappointing in the ODIs against India and the whole nation was disappointed that we didn't win the T20 World Cup. It was a very tough tournament, a lot of good teams, and to get as close as that, everybody dreams of winning it, not that we didn't try, but we really did play some fantastic cricket and produce some wonderful results."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Janith Madusanka on December 11, 2012, 17:22 GMT

    The test series is tough but face it positively and that's the way to fight.Is there a psychologist assigned to SL team management?Better get the service of one.

  • Thamara on December 11, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    They are already struggling to compete at international level. If Mahela and Sanga retire from international cricket before Sri Lanka find some good players, that situation only gets worse. I feel that Sri Lankan batting is too weak to threaten good Australian fast bowlers in their conditions. Sri Lanka will definitely have a very tough series against Aussies this time. The previous Sri Lankan teams that toured Australia lately were much better than this team in every respect. Most of Sri Lanka's problems lie in their batting. Bowling is not good either. I don't know how they will come up in this series. But I can guarantee one thing that Sri Lanka will face some painful defeats in this test series. Despite being a Sri Lankan, I am too pessimistic about the possibilities of taking away something positive from this series. We have got this series at the worst possible time. I am only aware of the way Sri Lanka lose in this series and I am not aware of the results of matches. i know it.

  • Janith Madusanka on December 11, 2012, 16:24 GMT

    Use player rotation among senior 4 to give a place to at least 1 youngster in a test match from now on.A test match against oz in their backyard is a tough challenge for a youngster and will test them deep.It's a early warning in their career for what's ahead and hope it will improve their mental strength and turn them into to tough fighters. Selectors please change the side for the last test match whatever be the result of the first 2 matches and deploy a young batting lineup with 1 senior batsman.By doing so you take part in the first good thing you have done to SL cricket. If this goes to a disaster Upul Tharanga wait in the wings as a top order batsman and Kandamby to Thilan's spot.At least as makeshift options.

  • Dummy4 on December 11, 2012, 9:05 GMT

    only the talk..if they are aging why Chandimal , Thirimanne and Dimuth are not given any chance ?

  • Janaka on December 11, 2012, 8:03 GMT

    For gods sake, please do not bring India for everything... India is 50 times or more bigger than Sri Lanka, and it's not exactly the same thing... Even our country is this much small, we had Jayasuriya, Aravinda who are way beyond the players by then, we had Murali who was the highest wicket taker. It's not the same. India keeps on producing a strong set of batsmen. It's mainly because they love to see batting, due to Suni Gaveskar, Sachin who were the stars in Indian community (and even in Sri Lanka). Do not speak negatively, please... India is much better than you think. It's not all over. They have a huge base of domestic cricket. We are totally different countries.

  • Nilantha on December 11, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    @cannuck- i think you make very sensible points my friend and I agree with you...its time for players like Karunaratne , chandimal , thirimane , thisara , jeevan mendis , eranga , senanayake , randhiv , pradeep to be given a fair run as the step up to international level cricket is huge and this takes time... anyone who thinks that the aussies are not dangerous and a quality team, need to watch more i have said before if we can draw the test series that will be a huge achievement for us... @yoker - i'm afraid i have to disagree with you mate, for me an opener needs to be stable and as you have seen by the efforts of cook in India, need the ability to bat for long periods of time...i still think that thisara should be in the #7/8 slot to accelerate the end of the innings...

  • Dummy4 on December 11, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    it is no doubt. then y u are not giving chaces to chandimal, thirimanne,dimuth karunarthna,thisara perera etc.?

  • Sandeep on December 11, 2012, 2:09 GMT

    @Manjula Jayawardana what was the age of Sanat when he was retired. i think 40+. who is greedy.

  • Supun on December 11, 2012, 0:12 GMT

    The Test Team is still in the recovery phase after the retirement of Murali, Malinga, Jayasuriya, Vass and Attapattu. Bowlers specially need some time to settle in Longer Formats before expecting some match winning performances. SL still could not find a good replacements for opener like Marvan Atapattu, and fast bowler like Chaminda Vass. It will badly affect the recovery process if current experienced players make early retirment.

  • Supun on December 10, 2012, 23:55 GMT

    No doubt SL need replacements for Thilan,Sangakkara, Mahela, Dilshan, Herath and Prasanna in the next 3-4 years. However Its too harsh to ask them to retire right now. Youngsters can be given some experience by resting the vetarans in less important tours and home series. We can expect early retirements from these veterans as some of them might get assignments in lucartive T20 tournaments.

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