Sri Lanka in Australia, 2012-13

Ford warning over ageing Sri Lanka stars

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

December 9, 2012

Comments: 51 | Text size: A | A

Graham Ford speaks to Mahela Jayawardene on the eve of the semi-final, Colombo, October 3, 2012
Graham Ford praised the support Mahela Jayawardene has given him © AFP

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."

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Posted by Independencechoice1 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by Independencechoice1 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.

Posted by   on (December 11, 2012, 9:05 GMT)

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

Posted by Prabhash1985 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.

Posted by yorkslanka 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...

Posted by   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.?

Posted by kumarsSansai 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.

Posted by Test-is-the-best 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.

Posted by Test-is-the-best 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.

Posted by Cannuck on (December 10, 2012, 22:15 GMT)

Its all fine & dandy to say seniors have retire, as long as the RIGHT JUNIORS are selected, not the preferred ones of the selectors. Right now there are "juniors" like Paranavitane, who is using up a valuable spot that can be given to someone else, without one of the top 3 retiring. Also not all 3 have to retire right away, specially since they STILL DO WELL, not slow on the field etc. This would be a good series to evaluate the senior's form. For starters I think Sanga should only play test, as his ODI & T20 scoring rates are not that fast. Dilshan on the other hand should play ODI & T20, & stay away from TESTS giving an opening spot to Dimuth. MJ is still valuable in ODI & T20, plus a great strategist in tests. People need to remember there are only 11 spots to play, but more than 20-30 prospects are waiting. If SLC to satisfy each of their supporter's wishes, the future cricketers would have very short careers, as there will always be NEW talent coming up asking them to retire!!

Posted by Raki99 on (December 10, 2012, 20:03 GMT)

All the subcontinent teams are mediocore right now... India has lost some greats players and srilanka has lost some great players and will be losing lot of great players. Pakistan has never been that great after the two "w's " But pakistan spin and fast bowlers are the better right now compared to india and srilanka. (Mind you i am an indian suppoter).

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 10, 2012, 17:34 GMT)

SL heading towards the Indian way. Soon their stars will fade and their youngsters will be exposed to the harsh realities of international cricket. I hope the SL management plan better than the BCCI. A lot of youngsters must be brought in otherwise we could see both India and SL at the bottom of the table in the near future. In ODIs and T20s, SL will always be good because those formats come naturally. Same is the case with India. It's test cricket that needs a lot of planning, timing, and man-management.

Posted by Prabhash1985 on (December 10, 2012, 17:27 GMT)

I forgot to mention one very important thing. If Thisara hits few boundaries, the two balls become older, and it will not swing much. Then the batsman to come, will find it easy to score runs. I remember Arjuna said this sometime back. Do not forget that Jayasuriya started as a bowler, and later became the master blaster. Thisara has the same caliber. If not politics, I think he must be a permanent member of the team, and has the same potential of Jayasuriya.

Posted by Prabhash1985 on (December 10, 2012, 17:23 GMT)

@Yoker111 : Exactly mate, same thought here... Sometime back, I started arguing with my friends that Thisara must open. He may not be capable of swing bowling attack, but if somebody hits two three sixes, and few boundaries, the two balls will go old. We really want a pinch hitter in the early stages. Sending Thisara later has a huge impact, yet it will be much easier for him to score runs when there is fielding restrictions. Please please Mahela, send Thisara as the opener, I beg you thousand times. Please give that opportunity to him. Everybody is unique.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 10, 2012, 16:21 GMT)

@Moppa, just ignore what amilag says. I respect Aussies big time. Tests will be very tough for us but hope we give a good fight. I need not tell you how well we have done in the ODIs against Aussies in Australia lately. We have to play positive cricket because Aussies will come hard at us firing out all cylinders. Honestly the never say die attitute of Aussie cricketers is fantastic. Sad reality about us is that our test record against Aussies at home is pathetic unlike our test record against other countries at home, which is great.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 10, 2012, 16:17 GMT)

@Ian Jones, I fully agree. We need a batsman who takes calculated risks and scores singles often and can last long. But too defensive batters wont help in tests particularly when you play a fighting side like Australia. @Prabhash1985, treat the Aussie tour as the toughest of all. Aussies have the hunger to win no matter how weak they are as they taught us a lesson last year in our backyard. If not for rain in Pallekelle, we would have lost 2-0 last year. Well I am positive about the ODIs and T20s, but tests are my worry. Aussie bowling wont cause us sleepless nights but still good enough to cause a 2nd innings collapse costing us the test match, like how England did it to us in Cardiff last year.

Posted by Ramansilva on (December 10, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

@ Manjula Jayawardena, I believe my comment is very sensible. If you read the comments you will see several others have mentioned the same names of young players. Chandimal did not get any chance recently. When he got chances in away matches he did well. Check your stats in Cricinfo statistics. Did Thisara get a chance recently? You read news today. BCCI has dropped the dead weights. SLC has to do the same to be competitive.

Posted by   on (December 10, 2012, 14:37 GMT)

Yoker - opening the batting in Test cricket is about having the technique and temperament to still be there at tea or better yet the close of play. An opener who slogs a quick 50 and is out before Lunch is useless.

Posted by   on (December 10, 2012, 11:31 GMT)

@ Ramansilva please talk with sense, don't compare with SL team with Indian Team, specially Chandimal was given so many chances but he was failed to perform. still give chances so no complaint please. I hope that he will do much better this time. Other thing, luckily, we don't have greedy players, they will announce their retirement on time, there is no requirement of discus about retirement of any senior player in SL team now, important thing is to develop youngsters around them.

Posted by Yoker111 on (December 10, 2012, 11:28 GMT)

SL needs to have an aggressive opener, Sri Lanka has been lacking that slot ever since Jayasuriya lost his prime now they need a player who can score atleast a quick 50 in a test and pass on. I see no player capable other than THISARA PERERA. Make the lad open give him a chance. it is rather essential to have some one of brutal strength opening batting, once a good start is given then they can line up the other youngsters to bat in order. The SLCB thinks they know everything and there is so much of corruption, try opening with him, give hm the confidence. Even if the player doesn't like it make him understand that SL need a hitter upfront. it will be good for him to improve his patience and skill with the bat. im not a die hard fan of him, just for the better cause of the team i propose and i beleive it will work! This one's over to you SLCB and FORD.

Posted by Prabhash1985 on (December 10, 2012, 11:23 GMT)

@Sinhaya: It's true what you say, but my idea is that "If you want to defeat Australians, do not care them at all! Just think of them as naive, and beat them which will bring you victory. It's what Bangladesh did those days, when we got hammered all the time by Australians. And it's what Arjuna, Sanath, Aravinda did. And it's what lacking in the team around one year ago. Our guns are loaded, our bowlers are in fine form, and our fielding is perfect. It's just a matter of playing there. Be positive mate :) Fear of losing is the enemy.

Posted by Prabhash1985 on (December 10, 2012, 11:19 GMT)

It took that many years for a comfortable win after Murali retired. It's a must to find new people. Our cupboards are not empty, but the gold in the cupboards are covered by politicians, and showing bronze.

Posted by cricket_slcsupport on (December 10, 2012, 11:15 GMT)

Sri Lanka can pull a surprise in Australia as they did in South Africa, but winning the Test Series will be a distant dream. South Africa had to struggle to win the series against the Oz, Sri Lanka with out of from ageing with so called super stars and No fast bowlers, NO WAY ! ! ! ! ! SL will disappoint us as usual. MJ continues to flop in the Test Arena, No doubt the best Captian in the world

Posted by Prema1948 on (December 10, 2012, 11:12 GMT)

pressure & tough conditions, which is the main reason why we've hardly won a series 2007since Attapatu left from the top order. All three unpredictable seniors have to be replaced with these players I mentioned below. Khausal Silva,RoshenSilva,AngeloPerera,Bhanuka,AshenSilva,GayanManeshan,DimuthKarunarathna, Shehan Jayasuriya,Kithruwan Withanage,Umesh Karunarathna, Geeth Alwis, Geeth Kumara, Chathuranga de Silva, Chathuranga Kumara.....(Interested persons may verify stats in this very website).

Posted by Prema1948 on (December 10, 2012, 11:12 GMT)

The s'tors deliberately ignore our youth that excel and maintain consistency @ School & Domestic tournaments for the last 25 years. They've always degrade performances of these youth in trying to continue with the 3 seniors and other henchmen , till the next WC, unfortunately the Local media too endorses every move of the s'tors; as a result persons ignorant about the Cricket setup in SL talk about dearth of talent in the Country. An interested person may check their (the 3) past records outside the Country. M'thews too wouldn't find a place in this Team if he was just a batsman as he was ableto bowl bit only the World is able to see his talent.Nobody querries why tall spinners like S'nanayake & Ajantha weren't included even if they were included they would be asked to sit out as in the case of Chandimal. What the country badly needs is selectors who know the importance of batters of the quality of S'weera but not reckless risky stroke makers that can't bat under (to be CNTD)

Posted by Ramansilva on (December 10, 2012, 10:48 GMT)

@Ashik Sali, India's cupboard may be empty or worn out by the IPL carnival but SL's cupboard is certainly not empty. As I believe the problem in SL is political interventions which span from appointing the selection committee to team selection. Young and talented guys like Chandimal and Thisara are put back in the cupboard aftre few outings because our seniors are alo occupying their places like Sachin, Yuvaraj, Zaheer and Harbajan.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 10, 2012, 10:41 GMT)

@amilag, stop dreaming and please be realistic! Likely test result will be 2-0 Australia. Forgot how Aussies dominated last year in our own backyard? Our ODI and T20 success in Australia does not matter at all in tests. Our worse test record is against Australia with just 1 test win. Stop dreaming please.

Posted by Moppa on (December 10, 2012, 10:12 GMT)

@amilag, I'll try to say this politely - I predict your boys will get thumped.

Posted by getsetgopk on (December 10, 2012, 9:42 GMT)

Aside from the umpiring debacles, the man that really stood out almost single handedly against Pak was Sanga. A real gem of a player that SL will probably not have in some time to come. High time that SL blood in new youngsters and give them as much exposure as possible. After Sanga and Mahela they would be in desperate need of a solid batsman and a couple of quicks, their spin bowling resources look good with youngsters coming in and performing. All the very best!

Posted by PadMarley on (December 10, 2012, 5:56 GMT)

Where we dont see some light at the end of the tunnel is fast bowling....

Posted by amilag on (December 10, 2012, 5:41 GMT)

This my prediction. SL will win the first series win in Australian soil this time. Aus team is not good as when there was Pointing,Gilchrist,Hayden,Macgrath,Warne,Lee etc..Further SL has done very well in recent ODIs and T20s in Australia.

Posted by   on (December 10, 2012, 5:15 GMT)

if cricket Sri Lanka want to avoid a time India is facing today, they must follow this advice. Also make sure there should be no mass retirement of superstars, it should be planed retirement.

Posted by PadMarley on (December 10, 2012, 4:40 GMT)

Mathews, Chandimal, Thrimanne, Dimuth, Thisara has to take over!! We never has such a number of very young and excited talent with solid international experience withint the country. And if we say that we have a problem and they will not be ready... Excuse me we have a mindset Issue here!!

Posted by Ruki-CMB on (December 10, 2012, 4:27 GMT)

For the youngsters to come through they should be given regular outings in the middle. people like Chadimal, Thirimane and Dimuth are very capabale of becoming superstars if they are nutured properly.

Posted by   on (December 10, 2012, 4:06 GMT)

Unfortunately like India, their cupboards are also empty.

Posted by Mervo on (December 10, 2012, 3:43 GMT)

Superstars? Not really with One exception maybe.

Posted by MH19 on (December 10, 2012, 0:13 GMT)

Nothing but the truth what an article well said Graham Ford some interesting assesment and SLC needs to act very fast before its too late and if they dont act our cricket will nose dive and will be last on all rankings.When I watched the NZ test series on TV even I gathered this its going to come fast.Its time to invest on yougsters now may be they are no where near the current stars however needs to be done and acted now.I feel Jayawardane will retire after this tour and this is my gut feeling looking at his comments about re assesing his future after the Australian tour.Replacing Jayawardena as captain will be an uphil task.

Posted by yorkslanka on (December 9, 2012, 22:37 GMT)

Sri Lanka's future lies in the hands of Mathews, Chandimal , Thisara, Thirrimane , Jeevan Mendis , Tharanga , Eranga..these guys MUST step up if we are to continue with any success..It goes without saying that they MUST have the support of the board in order to do this and these people have to prioritise test cricket if they want us to succeed in that format....good luck Sri Lanka..If its any consolation, the same was said when people like Ranatunga , De Silva and Hashan were about to retire...

Posted by SirViv1973 on (December 9, 2012, 22:08 GMT)

All 4 senior batsman are in their mid 30s and all could be gone within a yr or 2. Sadly you feel bleak times are aheal for SRL in the longer format of the game.

Posted by Lord.emsworth on (December 9, 2012, 19:29 GMT)

At long last the Rip Van Winkles of SL cricket are waking up. I have been warning of this predicament for some time now without anybody taking heed. I would poilitely suggest setting up an immediate program of action for this eventuality headed by a group of past captains - not bureaucrats /administrators.

Posted by Afta on (December 9, 2012, 18:52 GMT)

The cupboard is bare, and I don't see anybody in the horizon who could take Srilanka to the helm of International cricket in the next four years. The warning was there when Murali retired, may be even before, but, upto date nobody has taken serious notice or refuses to do so. We didn't have to wait till Ford's warning, coaches will come and go, but the sad story will continue. I don't see any quality players emerging in the near future and even if they do I can't see them in the long term. It will always be a flash in the pan. The fault lies in the structure of domestic cricket and absolutely no long term planning. In this highly competetive world of cricket and too many games to play the future looks bleak for Srilanka cricket. Sad, that we don't have proper contingency plans for quality replacements.

Posted by ErangaMahesh on (December 9, 2012, 16:22 GMT)

that's true go SL Lions Go

Posted by landl47 on (December 9, 2012, 16:17 GMT)

Ford has put his finger on Sri Lanka's problem. SL's top 4 batsmen are all 35 or older and while they are all still producing, how long can it last? Their best bowler, Herath, is also 34 and there is no obvious replacement. SL needs new players and it needs them quickly, otherwise the forthcoming spell in the wilderness is going to be prolonged.

Posted by stormy16 on (December 9, 2012, 16:04 GMT)

Been coming a long time but SL havent been able to give young new players a chance due to the big 4 occupying the batting order and from the young players given an opportunity only Chandimal has shown anything to get exicted abuot. Strangely SL keep playing Paranawitharana depiste continued failures and obvious lack of technique. I reckon SL need to open with Dilshan and Sanga and Mahela move down a place in the batting order to allow Chanidal and Mathews play while the experienced guys are still in the team.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 15:11 GMT)

I totally agree with Ford. Yes, the key players are now in mid 30s. I indeed appreciate the way Mahela thinks about the talented youngsters to come and take the seniors' places. Of course it should would like that only to move the sport pefectly. All the best to Mahela for his utmost contribution to the team. All the best to Ford, We hope the series in Aus to be won by SL.

Posted by Mevan on (December 9, 2012, 14:06 GMT)

Replacements for our superstar batsmen - who are due to retire shortly - will have to play test matches and hone their skills. How can they do that if Sri Lanka will only play 6 tests up to the end of 2013 and if they do not get the chance to play in them? The only way out is that the superstars should only play the ODIs and T20s and allow the youngsters to play in the tests. We may lose a few tests, but, if they step up to the plate, we may not. If we dont try it, we will never know! I would, therefore, like to see two of the 4 senior batsmen being left out for the tests in Australia; they can be rotated for the 3 tests.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 13:29 GMT)

is there a better way than making the young players play test cricket rather than all four senior guys playing everything?? In my view Dilshan should retire now!!

Posted by Partyman on (December 9, 2012, 13:07 GMT)

Looks like some lessons have been learnt from the Indian debacle, even if the Indians haven't!! LOL!!

Posted by Metro-ant on (December 9, 2012, 12:48 GMT)

What happened to NZ will soon happen to Sri Lanka. Styris, Fleming, Astle, McMillan and Cairns who were the core of the Black Caps went overnight (maybe not Cairns) but forunately had steel nerved players like Ross Taylor and a lot of young promising fast bowlers proved their worth. Sri Lanka have none of those things which is the most worrying. Mathews and leadership are like chalk and cheese. It would be like trying to make a test captain out of Albie Morkel, though Mathews does have youth in his side. They pick them late at SLC but they should really start exposing these fringe players more like what the other countries are doing. Hughes, Khawaja, Joe Root, Bairstow, Faf Du Plessis, Elgar, Pujara, Raina and the list goes on

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 9, 2012, 11:45 GMT)

That is why we must give Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne and Thirimanne as many chances. Angelo is well set. Thisara should have been in the test series for this tour. I think Dilshan and Mahela should retire first so that Chandimal and Dimuth can be drafted in. Once Chandimal and DK are set, then Thirimanne and Angelo Perera can be taken. As for bowling, we really need to utilize Sachithra Senanayake and Roshan Jayatissa as they are far far better than Randiv.

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