Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13 December 4, 2012

Fast bowling a worry for Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka have stacked their squad with five fast bowlers for the tour, but none with experience, partly due to inconsistency, but also because of long-term injuries
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Fast bowling appears to be the largest chink in Sri Lanka's game as they prepare for their first three-match series in Australia in 17 seasons, with some bowlers having arrived fresh from rehabilitation and others with less-than-ideal form behind them.


Sri Lanka have stacked their squad with five fast bowlers for the tour, but the pace battery cannot boast one bowler of experience among them, partly due to inconsistency, but also because of long-term injuries. None of the five have played 20 Tests, while three of them have played ten or fewer. Bowlers have only been part of the team as long as their bodies have allowed, hampering ambitions of becoming established in the side.

This year has seen the pace stocks stretched particularly thin. Among the touring group, Dhammika Prasad, Chanaka Welegedara and Shaminda Eranga have spent several months away through injury, while Suranga Lakmal has not played since March, and was not considered for this tour, having sustained an ankle injury. Allrounder Thisara Perera, who has had success with the ball in Australia in limited-overs internationals, was also hampered by a back injury, which has prevented him from bowling the long spells that Test cricket requires. 



"It's important that we have a settled attack, but in the last two or three years we've had a lot of injuries to the fast bowlers so they've been in and out of the Test team," Jayawardene said. "We would like to have a settled attack going forward - three or four guys who are always going to be there or thereabouts, which is very important. If we can get to that situation, they'll feel confident in what their roles are going to be as well, because they are going to be playing together as a unit.



"Unfortunately the injuries that have happened to some of our guys have been long-term injuries. Suranga is still struggling after his operation. Dhammika and Chanaka are coming back strongly. That gives us the opportunity to have them around, which is great." 


Compounding the injury woes for Sri Lanka's seam bowlers is the lack of competitive cricket for their returning bowlers, with Sri Lanka's domestic cricket having finished for the season in March. Welegedara has been Sri Lanka's leading pace bowler over the past 18 months, but despite being fit for the New Zealand series, he was not selected in the playing XI due to a lack of match practice.

"Chanaka's been fit now for three or four weeks. The reason we didn't play him was because he didn't have that bowling under his belt and the rhythm wasn't there. In the last two weeks he's bowled in between the matches and in the nets to get his rhythm back. He's looking good. He'll definitely be a contender in Australia. He's been the one who's been spearheading our attack and I'm looking forward to having him in the lineup."

Sri Lanka's fast bowlers also arrive in Australia having had a mediocre home series against New Zealand, and a poor second Test in particular. Eranga and Nuwan Kulasekara bowled creditably in the first Test in Galle, using swing-friendly conditions to take early wickets in each innings, but on a P Sara Oval track that offered less movement in the air and more bounce - both qualities associated with Australian conditions - their returns were less satisfactory. 

While New Zealand's opening bowlers reaped 21 wickets between them, Sri Lanka's new-ball pair managed only 12, as the attack relied on the left-arm spin of Rangana Herath for penetration. Herath finished with 20 wickets from the two-Test series.


"Rangana is always going to be a guy who can take that burden on, but it's important that the other guys put their hands up and perform," Jayawardene said. "In Australia the quick bowlers will have something to offer - it's not like playing in Sri Lankan conditions. I'm pretty confident the guys will rise to the occasion and do well. Hopefully Rangana will do well and make sure we have a solid attack."



Although Eranga had a poor second Test against New Zealand, Jayawardene was confident he could develop into a good Test bowler, if he can work on his control. In the recent Tests he swung the ball and seamed it in both directions, while also finding reverse swing with the old ball, but was guilty of waywardness, particularly at the P Sara.


"Eranga's got something to offer. He's got a bit of pace and a bit of movement and he's a fiery cricketer. As long as we can get him to focus on the job in hand and get him to have that kind of discipline that he requires in Test cricket. That will only come when he plays a few matches. I definitely think that if he stays healthy and gets stronger, he could be a handful for any batsman."

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Narbavi on | December 7, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    @Htc-Android : So you couldn't mention even 3, and you consider malinga better than Zaheer in tests, that sums up your knowledge about what malinga and Zaheer achieved respectively in test cricket, why bring in praveen here? He has just started his career now, he has already picked close to 30 wickets in the 6 matches he has played, and i agree about Ishant, he was talked about as the next big thing but hasn't lived up to the promise!!

  • POSTED BY Buckers410 on | December 7, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    1.Karunaratne 2.Dilshan 3.Sangakkara 4.M Jayawardena (c) 5.Samaraweera 6.Matthews (vc) 7.P Jayawardena (wk) 8.Prasad 9.Herath 10.Eranga 11.Welegedara. Good side on papr. Hope it is an interesting series and SL can show some fight like Sangakkara did last time they played tests here.

  • POSTED BY Htc-Android on | December 7, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    @Narbavi. statistically we dont have fast bowlers with better records than zaheer(except vass and malinga who have better record than zaheer).its because they havent played many matches as zaheer. but generally our fast bowlers are better than indian fast bowlers. even fernando who had been named as the worst bowler by sri lankan fans, has better records than guys like ishant, praveen,sreeshant. Do you agree with that? look at ishant, this guy played 45 test matches, still he hasnt improved his wicket taking ability and he is named as one of the leading fast bowlers in india.

  • POSTED BY trav696 on | December 7, 2012, 1:58 GMT

    Dilhara fernando can hit the deck hard and bowl in the mid 140's for long periods of time. Nuwan pradeep is quite fast, but ive seen him only bowl in the late 130's during the Ca chairman's match against Sri lanka. Nuwan doesn't have the experience that dilhara has, nor the pace and bounce to trouble batsman. Sl, will do well with dilhara if the bring him down for this series, he will go for runs but is a genuine wicket taker.

  • POSTED BY on | December 6, 2012, 20:29 GMT

    @Bruisers Sri Lanka have some quality fast bowlers (not better than SA,ENG,AUS and the pre-1990 WI bowlers; of course :P).

    Comparing them to Bangladesh is funny only Mashrafee is any quality bowler they have got and maybe Nazmul.

  • POSTED BY Narbavi on | December 6, 2012, 13:35 GMT

    @lukecannon-ENG: Lol, your one sided comment made my day too, i will tell you how, you talked about SL beating SA in that test but you didn't mention you lost the series, you talked about our home drubbing, but we won the first test by 9 wickets you didn't mention, you talked about winning first test vs NZ, but didn't mention that you lost the second test to them, AUS lost at home? Ya they did but have you ever won against them in their backyard?? ha ha

  • POSTED BY Narbavi on | December 6, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    @Htc-Android: Oh really?? Then show me atleast 5 srilankan bowlers with a better record than Zaheer!!

  • POSTED BY Meety on | December 6, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    @Sinhaya on (December 04 2012, 15:58 PM GMT) - I see the trolls are out in force on this article. Anways, looking forward to a good contest, on paper your mob don't stand much of a chance, but as I've said on some other articles, there are a lot of little opportunities that could go SL's way. Looking forward to seeing how Eranga goes, I hope he doesn''t bowl too short. Also - I'll be interested to see how Herath & Randiv go in Oz, Murali did not have much success here & Tahir at times at Adelaide may of wished he was never born, but interestingly Peterson did well,

  • POSTED BY yorkslanka on | December 5, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    @bruisers- why are you so worried about OUR team, try concentrating on your OWN team - that's what a true fan does rather than slating everyone else...the difference is we KNOW our fast bowling is weak and dont profess to being the best in the world...glad we entertain you enough for you to continually comment on our team tho..

  • POSTED BY on | December 5, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    hahah @hitwkt ..Ramanayake and Pramodaya was bowling rubbish ..so one of them act as a useless bowling coach ..so no wonder our boling attck become rubbish..its time for SLC to get a pace bowling coach who knew something abt bowling..Vass,romesh,waqar,gillesphi,wasim etc y this ramanayake guy doing nothing..did nothing to bangla also

  • POSTED BY Narbavi on | December 7, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    @Htc-Android : So you couldn't mention even 3, and you consider malinga better than Zaheer in tests, that sums up your knowledge about what malinga and Zaheer achieved respectively in test cricket, why bring in praveen here? He has just started his career now, he has already picked close to 30 wickets in the 6 matches he has played, and i agree about Ishant, he was talked about as the next big thing but hasn't lived up to the promise!!

  • POSTED BY Buckers410 on | December 7, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    1.Karunaratne 2.Dilshan 3.Sangakkara 4.M Jayawardena (c) 5.Samaraweera 6.Matthews (vc) 7.P Jayawardena (wk) 8.Prasad 9.Herath 10.Eranga 11.Welegedara. Good side on papr. Hope it is an interesting series and SL can show some fight like Sangakkara did last time they played tests here.

  • POSTED BY Htc-Android on | December 7, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    @Narbavi. statistically we dont have fast bowlers with better records than zaheer(except vass and malinga who have better record than zaheer).its because they havent played many matches as zaheer. but generally our fast bowlers are better than indian fast bowlers. even fernando who had been named as the worst bowler by sri lankan fans, has better records than guys like ishant, praveen,sreeshant. Do you agree with that? look at ishant, this guy played 45 test matches, still he hasnt improved his wicket taking ability and he is named as one of the leading fast bowlers in india.

  • POSTED BY trav696 on | December 7, 2012, 1:58 GMT

    Dilhara fernando can hit the deck hard and bowl in the mid 140's for long periods of time. Nuwan pradeep is quite fast, but ive seen him only bowl in the late 130's during the Ca chairman's match against Sri lanka. Nuwan doesn't have the experience that dilhara has, nor the pace and bounce to trouble batsman. Sl, will do well with dilhara if the bring him down for this series, he will go for runs but is a genuine wicket taker.

  • POSTED BY on | December 6, 2012, 20:29 GMT

    @Bruisers Sri Lanka have some quality fast bowlers (not better than SA,ENG,AUS and the pre-1990 WI bowlers; of course :P).

    Comparing them to Bangladesh is funny only Mashrafee is any quality bowler they have got and maybe Nazmul.

  • POSTED BY Narbavi on | December 6, 2012, 13:35 GMT

    @lukecannon-ENG: Lol, your one sided comment made my day too, i will tell you how, you talked about SL beating SA in that test but you didn't mention you lost the series, you talked about our home drubbing, but we won the first test by 9 wickets you didn't mention, you talked about winning first test vs NZ, but didn't mention that you lost the second test to them, AUS lost at home? Ya they did but have you ever won against them in their backyard?? ha ha

  • POSTED BY Narbavi on | December 6, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    @Htc-Android: Oh really?? Then show me atleast 5 srilankan bowlers with a better record than Zaheer!!

  • POSTED BY Meety on | December 6, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    @Sinhaya on (December 04 2012, 15:58 PM GMT) - I see the trolls are out in force on this article. Anways, looking forward to a good contest, on paper your mob don't stand much of a chance, but as I've said on some other articles, there are a lot of little opportunities that could go SL's way. Looking forward to seeing how Eranga goes, I hope he doesn''t bowl too short. Also - I'll be interested to see how Herath & Randiv go in Oz, Murali did not have much success here & Tahir at times at Adelaide may of wished he was never born, but interestingly Peterson did well,

  • POSTED BY yorkslanka on | December 5, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    @bruisers- why are you so worried about OUR team, try concentrating on your OWN team - that's what a true fan does rather than slating everyone else...the difference is we KNOW our fast bowling is weak and dont profess to being the best in the world...glad we entertain you enough for you to continually comment on our team tho..

  • POSTED BY on | December 5, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    hahah @hitwkt ..Ramanayake and Pramodaya was bowling rubbish ..so one of them act as a useless bowling coach ..so no wonder our boling attck become rubbish..its time for SLC to get a pace bowling coach who knew something abt bowling..Vass,romesh,waqar,gillesphi,wasim etc y this ramanayake guy doing nothing..did nothing to bangla also

  • POSTED BY on | December 5, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    cricket is strange game guys, pak white washed england when they were the number one team in the world, and in turn england whitewashed pak in the ODI series, lanka always have the ability ti surprise, so too do their bolwers, they always rise to the occassion and this time will be no different, please hold your comments until the series is over!

  • POSTED BY lukecannon on | December 5, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    @Bruisers- haha your comment made my day. This guy was SL spearhead when SL beat SA , the no 1 team, in SA. India just lost on home soil. A 10 wicket drubbing. AUS just lost at home. SL thrashed NZ in the 1st test and ended it inside 3 days. lol. Serioiusly your comment made my day. hahahahahaha

  • POSTED BY Htc-Android on | December 5, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    @Bruisers . what abt ur fast bowlers? are they any good? at any given day i would rate thomas odoyo better than zaheer khan.

  • POSTED BY Return-of-Sinhaya on | December 5, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    @Bruisers: Can't agree more!! You hit the bull's eye!! Rather than saying india is strong only at home and not overseas, i hope these people realize that their own overseas record is pathetic and basically they don't have a strong home record too, in the last couple of years we have seen NZ, AUS and ENG and india come to lanka and win tests!!

  • POSTED BY Bruisers on | December 5, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    What a pathetic team Sri Lanka is.. They can't even win in home conditions, let alone overseas. Their 'fast' bowlers are worser than the ones Bangladesh has. Welegedara - the spearhead of the attack!!? Hahaha, made my day.. SL v BAN next year will be a real mouthwatering clash of the minnows. Looking forward to it.

  • POSTED BY johnathonjosephs on | December 5, 2012, 14:16 GMT

    Welegedera must be put in the team. He was instrumental in the only win Sri Lanka achieved in South Africa and his left arm angle can provide variation. Eranga is rising and really has some talent (gets injured a lot though). This could be his breakway series if he wants it to. Kulasekara - does anybody bowl inswingers better than him? 3 fast bowlers for Aus - Kula, Eranga, and Welegedera. Wouldn't be a bad decision to put Fernando in the team. He's like the Sri Lankan Mitchell Johnson - wayward, expensive, but has that knack to get wickets

  • POSTED BY on | December 5, 2012, 12:44 GMT

    sri lanka a has bowler named nuwan pradeep he bowls in mid 140s and some times near 150.but he doesnt gets any wickets

  • POSTED BY trav696 on | December 5, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    SL need a genuine pace bowler, someone who can bowl in the mid 140's. This may sound stupid, but the risk may pay off - (Dilhara fernando). He is inconsistent, but bringing him down to australia and bringing him into the squad if possible for the 2nd or 3rd test may not be a bad idea... he can take wickets

  • POSTED BY on | December 5, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    srilanka will beat aust need are good start well need to end well need to prform we hope so if u are srilanka fan like how we so in are odi series in aust how srilanka did 2-1 series win over aust for 1st time led by mahela 20 years ago like the can mahela ansd is team do same here 1st test start on 14th mathews is key vic-caption

  • POSTED BY Hitwicket99 on | December 5, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    I don't think the Aussies will have to bat twice in any match. Our attack will be canon fodder now that they been peppered by Stayn and Morkel. This is probably the worst attack that SL has toured Aus with since the late eighties when we had guys like Ramanayake and Pramodaya bowling rubbish that guys like Taylor and Slater used have for dinner.

  • POSTED BY Lankan_Pride1981 on | December 5, 2012, 0:51 GMT

    tests will last 3 to 4 days. punter should have waited for this series to score some more easy runs. dont know why ajantha mendis was not selected.

  • POSTED BY Test-is-the-best on | December 5, 2012, 0:48 GMT

    Selection committe overlooked to inlude one fast bowler who can produce some bounce which most Australian Pitches are likely to offer. I think a player like Kanishka Alvitigala could have been tried ahead Nuwan Pradeep as Selection committe does not need to consider Dilhara Fernando who didnt have a impressive tour in SA earlier this year to secure this spot.

  • POSTED BY Sinhaya on | December 5, 2012, 0:38 GMT

    My worry is not about bowling or anything. Looking at our test record since getting test status in 1982, our worse test record is against Aussies with just one win back in 1999. We have half a dozen or more test wins against all other test playing nations. We have failed miserably at home too against the Aussies sadly, which was not the case with other teams. We squandered winning chances as shown by our 3-0 whitewash back in 2004 despite getting a 1st innings lead in all 3 tests!

  • POSTED BY SickofSLcricket on | December 4, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    "Fast bowlers is a worry " or wining world cup final is a worry???. here they come again to Embarrass sri lankans in Australia again

  • POSTED BY ARad on | December 4, 2012, 23:29 GMT

    I see that the first two dates would be played during the year which means Michael Clarke would have a few more chances to increase on his double century record tally for a calendar year.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | December 4, 2012, 20:18 GMT

    It's O.K. - it's a major worry for Aus. as well. Don't get such excuses out already!

  • POSTED BY Stark62 on | December 4, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    Australia will win the series quite easily but I think, SL will perform better than Ind did.

  • POSTED BY stormy16 on | December 4, 2012, 19:35 GMT

    I dont understand how SL fast bowling stocks can be this poor for this long but the same coach is constantly heralded as doing a great job. SL should take on Philander as an example. He seldom if ever reaches 140 KMH and doesnt use pace or bounce as weapons. His seam presentation, line and lenght are immaculate. If you dont have proper opening bowlers your in the ring with one hand tied.

  • POSTED BY ShehanJ on | December 4, 2012, 18:14 GMT

    Having confidence is one thing and actually performing under pressure is another thing. New Zealand on their tour to SL were quite successful in the test series when they got the services of Chaminda Vaas to give some pointers to the NZ bowlers on how to bowl in Sri Lankan conditions. Maybe the SL authorities should take a leaf out of the NZ page and get the services of a former Aussie fast bowler to give the inexperienced SL fast bowlers some pointers on how to bowl in Aussie conditions. You need to take 20 wickets to win a match, and I don't think Rangana Herath or Randive will be that successful on the Aussie pitches.

  • POSTED BY Karnain on | December 4, 2012, 16:08 GMT

    Great observation from Mahela, So Eranga & Welagedara seem to be the first choice fast bowlers in this tour. It's interesting to see whether he persists with Kula as the 3rd option in Australian pitches.

  • POSTED BY Sinhaya on | December 4, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    Please make sure that our bowlers for Hobart and Melbourne tests are Kulasekara, Eranga, Herath and Prasad and not Welegedara at all.

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  • POSTED BY Sinhaya on | December 4, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    Please make sure that our bowlers for Hobart and Melbourne tests are Kulasekara, Eranga, Herath and Prasad and not Welegedara at all.

  • POSTED BY Karnain on | December 4, 2012, 16:08 GMT

    Great observation from Mahela, So Eranga & Welagedara seem to be the first choice fast bowlers in this tour. It's interesting to see whether he persists with Kula as the 3rd option in Australian pitches.

  • POSTED BY ShehanJ on | December 4, 2012, 18:14 GMT

    Having confidence is one thing and actually performing under pressure is another thing. New Zealand on their tour to SL were quite successful in the test series when they got the services of Chaminda Vaas to give some pointers to the NZ bowlers on how to bowl in Sri Lankan conditions. Maybe the SL authorities should take a leaf out of the NZ page and get the services of a former Aussie fast bowler to give the inexperienced SL fast bowlers some pointers on how to bowl in Aussie conditions. You need to take 20 wickets to win a match, and I don't think Rangana Herath or Randive will be that successful on the Aussie pitches.

  • POSTED BY stormy16 on | December 4, 2012, 19:35 GMT

    I dont understand how SL fast bowling stocks can be this poor for this long but the same coach is constantly heralded as doing a great job. SL should take on Philander as an example. He seldom if ever reaches 140 KMH and doesnt use pace or bounce as weapons. His seam presentation, line and lenght are immaculate. If you dont have proper opening bowlers your in the ring with one hand tied.

  • POSTED BY Stark62 on | December 4, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    Australia will win the series quite easily but I think, SL will perform better than Ind did.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | December 4, 2012, 20:18 GMT

    It's O.K. - it's a major worry for Aus. as well. Don't get such excuses out already!

  • POSTED BY ARad on | December 4, 2012, 23:29 GMT

    I see that the first two dates would be played during the year which means Michael Clarke would have a few more chances to increase on his double century record tally for a calendar year.

  • POSTED BY SickofSLcricket on | December 4, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    "Fast bowlers is a worry " or wining world cup final is a worry???. here they come again to Embarrass sri lankans in Australia again

  • POSTED BY Sinhaya on | December 5, 2012, 0:38 GMT

    My worry is not about bowling or anything. Looking at our test record since getting test status in 1982, our worse test record is against Aussies with just one win back in 1999. We have half a dozen or more test wins against all other test playing nations. We have failed miserably at home too against the Aussies sadly, which was not the case with other teams. We squandered winning chances as shown by our 3-0 whitewash back in 2004 despite getting a 1st innings lead in all 3 tests!

  • POSTED BY Test-is-the-best on | December 5, 2012, 0:48 GMT

    Selection committe overlooked to inlude one fast bowler who can produce some bounce which most Australian Pitches are likely to offer. I think a player like Kanishka Alvitigala could have been tried ahead Nuwan Pradeep as Selection committe does not need to consider Dilhara Fernando who didnt have a impressive tour in SA earlier this year to secure this spot.