Sri Lanka in England 2014 April 28, 2014

SL quicks begin training with Duke ball


Sri Lanka's hopes of sending up to six cricketers to England for early-season training had been upset by former coach Paul Farbrace's move to the English setup, but their fast bowlers have nonetheless begun training at home with Duke balls, in preparation for the two-Test series in June.

Tests in England pose a unique challenge for foreign sides, most of whom use Kookaburra balls across all formats. Chaminda Vaas did not have memorable Test tours of England in his career, but as the fast-bowling coach, he has drawn up specific plans to consolidate the pace attack's 2014 gains.

"The Duke ball doesn't swing much earlier on," Vaas told The Island. "Some of the guys who could play for us in Tests like Suranga Lakmal, Shaminda Eranga, Dhammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep have lot of potential and they will develop during this tour."

Though his Tests returns in England were mediocre, Vaas has had good experience of English conditions in four largely successful county stints for Northamptonshire, Hampshire, Worcestershire and Middlesex. His knowhow may be vital to the fast bowlers' performance on the tour, particularly as only one tour fixture precedes the Tests.

"The wickets will suit seamers in the early season and conditions will be wet. It will be tough for them, but hopefully they will enjoy the conditions and I am looking forward to working with these guys."

Nagging line-and-length complemented by modest movement off the seam has been the hallmark of Sri Lanka's new pace spearheads Eranga and Lakmal - a strategy that brought laudable dividends against Pakistan and Bangladesh this year. Vaas suggested the attack would not veer far from that blueprint in England.

"We have been working on things like accuracy, good line and length. The results are there for everyone to see and we need to keep improving. Suranga and Shaminda both bowl at 135 (kph) plus. They need to bowl in that range constantly and their variation will help them."

Accuracy had been allied with endurance in the UAE, where Eranga and Lakmal both delivered over 130 overs each in three back-to-back Tests against Pakistan. The side's plans made for some attritional cricket, but when Sri Lanka won a Test in Dubai largely on the back of their quicks, there were hints the strategy could lead to a resurgence of fast bowling in the national team.

"I always tell them to be patient. We need to bowl good balls to take wickets. When you keep bowling one line the wickets will come. You need to put the batsmen under pressure. During the Pakistan series in UAE a lot of people didn't give us much of a chance. But our seamers did the simple things right and enjoyed quite a bit of success."

Kumar Sangakkara will also have some Duke-ball preparation, after he confirmed a two-match stint with Durham before Sri Lanka's limited-overs series in England.

Sri Lanka depart for Ireland for two ODIs on May 2, before moving on to England for a full tour consisting of one T20I, five ODIs and two Tests.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • chami on May 1, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    What happen to Thilina Thushara?

  • Croos on May 1, 2014, 13:28 GMT

    Normally when we ( srilanka loose a series in England / Aus ) used to say they used to Kokabura or Duke now in this scenario we cant blame the ball.. We need fast bowlers like VASS / Rumesh / Ravi to lead the srilankan pace attack i would like to see srilankan fast bowlers getting more wickets in an innings like 57/6, 89/8 ,, or even very less runs ...all the best Srilanka with duke challange .....

  • Kanishka on April 30, 2014, 10:41 GMT

    I think Vaas should be commended I don't think there were any sort of preparation for the previous two tours as we are seeing, hope it pays off.

  • nalin on April 29, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    SL test bowling attack may not be penetrative but their ODI and T20 bowlers are effective in a containing role and Malinga is a GREAT FINISHER. Sanath Jayasuriya has more concern about SL quicks at test level. Any practice or training will help. Getting genuine quick bowling 150k is unlikely but then McGrath only bowled 136k and Eranga can do that so SL can produce useful quicks who could get wickets without being a tearaway like Johnson.

  • karthik on April 29, 2014, 9:40 GMT

    @Nadisha jayasinghe.See you need to understand that aaron and lakmal have not played a lot of matches.They are being persisted only because they are talented.Infact,i was not impressed with lakmal on sl series in eng in 2011.But the way he bowled,getting seam movement,bounce in the asia cup was outstanding.They need time

  • Dummy4 on April 29, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    @ Dhoni48, Varun Aarons ODI economy rate is 6.64, he is the fastest bowler on the subcontinent at present but at some point in his short ODI career, he has been clobbered.Thats not to say the Sri Lankan bowlers don't have high economy rates, lakmal in ODIs for example and i didn't read Om prakashs comment so I don't know the whole debate here but was just replying to your point.

  • Shivantha on April 29, 2014, 8:19 GMT

    @Kavum, bodybuilders' physique and fast bowlers' strength and fitness are two things. Obviously they need strong muscles but it doesn't mean building muscles like a bodybuilder. Dilhara neither bowled long spells nor consistently. Physiques of Brett Lee and Dale Steyn proves my point. I remember how Champaka Ramanayake slowed down after building his body.

    Vaas has the right idea and hope they can execute it properly in England. We should play for our strengths since we don't have a Mitchell Johnson.

  • Dummy4 on April 29, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    Kavum, Practicing with a Duke ball is no big secret. Pradeep has improved his physique. So is Lakmal. Otherwise he could not have bowled those long spells in trying weather conditions in UAE. I saw he and Eranga bowling sustained spells accurately there in Third Test at Shariah . Both were impressive. I am bit disappointed that Chanaka Welagedara is now out of reckoning. He had some success in last tour and always seemed to have Andrew Strauss sorted out from the very first ball. Remember, he was one of th architects of that famous Durban test match win in 2011. Looking beyond all of them we have that highly underrated, world's best left arm spinner Rangana Herath in our ranks. If conditions by 4th or 5t day give some help he could bowl us to victory.

  • Android on April 28, 2014, 23:19 GMT

    @ Om Prakash, Well said bro !

  • Rajiv on April 28, 2014, 19:46 GMT

    @PACERONE: What about your worldclass spinner average. I think it is in single digit figures right. Is your so called worldclass spinner, effective as Warne/Murali/Kumble.

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