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November 6, 2011
Duleep Mendis, Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors, has lashed out at the players and coaches of the national team for their dismal performances against Pakistan in the ongoing Test series in the United Arab Emirates.
"The performance of our cricketers is way below of what we expected of them," Mendis said."We may not have played Test cricket in the UAE before but then we should have gone there a few weeks ahead and got ourselves acclimatised to the pitches and conditions.
"Apart from Kumar Sangakkara the batting has been a complete let down. There have been occasions where other batsmen have also contributed but overall our batting from one to six has been disappointing. Sangakkara has been brilliant and he alone is carrying the Sri Lanka batting most of the time."
Mendis noted that this was not the first time the Sri Lanka batting has failed to live up to its potential. "This has happened in three consecutive series starting in England and Australia and now against Pakistan. Compared to Pakistan we have one of the best batting line-ups in Test cricket and experienced players who have made centuries at the highest level. I think it has something to do with the mental approach. Something is not right there and it is the coaches who have to address it.
"Unlike during our time, today there are coaches to handle every aspect of the game, batting, bowling, fielding, so it is their duty to see where we are going wrong. As much as it is the responsibility of the coaches the players must also take a fair share of the blame." Pakistan's bowling attack has been much more incisive than Sri Lanka's over the course of the series, and Mendis felt that was an indictment of the bowling coach. "You take our bowlers there is a marked difference when Pakistan bowl and when we bowl. Their bowlers are able to get life out of a lifeless pitch. I think it is something to do with technique and our bowling coach is responsible for it."
He was also critical of the rest of the support staff for not performing their roles properly. "See the number of players who are injured? Dammika Prasad is unable to play in two consecutive Test matches without breaking down. Yesterday (third day) he did not bowl and we were down to four bowlers. Thankfully we played five bowlers in the Test. "Apart from Prasad there is Nuwan Kulasekara, Shaminda Eranga, Ajantha Mendis and Prasanna Jayawardene all on the injury list. I don't know what our physios and masseurs are doing with the players for them to get constantly injured."
On the question of promoting captain Tillakaratne Dilshan to open the batting in the third Test against Pakistan at Sharjah, Mendis said it was a tactical change to allow for an extra bowler in the XI.
"We tried the 6-5 combination in England also but it didn't work in our favour. We are 1-0 down in the present series and we need to win the final Test to square it. We made the change with that intention. [Lahiru] Thirimanne didn't bat all that badly for a newcomer. He was left out because we are looking for a result in this Test."
Mendis also pointed out that Sri Lanka was presently in the process of rebuilding the team after the retirements of Muthiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu and during such a period there can be setbacks.
"It is not easy replacing players in the calibre of Murali, Sanath, Vaas and Marvan overnight. It will take some time and we will hit some rough patches while in the process of doing so."
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