Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, Colombo, 5th day September 20, 2011

Dilshan to stay at No. 5


Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain, has admitted his side are finding it hard to deal with the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan and said it would take time for them to groom bowlers who could win them Tests. Dilshan also said he would continue batting at No. 5 in Tests, as he did in Colombo, since the additional responsibility of captaincy meant he had more to do in the field.

"We've gone 11 Tests without a win but we have lost only two Tests; the other nine were drawn. After Murali's retirement we are still trying to find a bowler to win matches for us," Dilshan said after the Colombo Test was drawn giving Australia a 1-0 win in the series. "These are hard times for Sri Lankan cricket. The bowlers we have are inexperienced; they have played just 5 to 10 Tests and we have to persist with them for some time and give them the experience before we can start winning again.

"If you take the last 10-15 years it was Murali and [Chaminda] Vaas who won Test matches for us. We need to groom bowlers who can at least get closer to that level. I am extremely happy that on this SSC wicket the young fast bowlers managed to dismiss a strong batting line-up for 316 and gave us an opportunity to press for a win."

Dilshan has opened the batting for Sri Lanka in Tests since the home series against New Zealand in August 2009, and averaged 47.20 at the top compared to the 41.75 he averages in the middle order. However, he struggled with the bat during the first two Tests against Australia and dropped down the order for the third, and said he would continue to bat in the middle order.

"I am considering batting at No. 5 because I have to do a lot of things in the middle apart from captaining the team [Dilshan bowled 63 overs of offspin in the series]. After just a ten minute break it's hard to open. I am going to stick to No. 5 in future Test matches. I have scored the majority of my runs in Test cricket as a middle-order batsman. I spoke with Marvan [Atapattu], the batting coach, and he told me that I had performed well with the bat in the middle order at no. 5 and 6. I thought I will bat lower down the order and give another batsman the opportunity to open."

One of the reasons for relinquishing the opening position could be that Dilshan foresees Sri Lanka going in to many of their Tests with just one specialist spinner, meaning he will have to bowl more. "We have spinners whom we can use like Suraj Randiv, Seekuge Prasanna and Ajantha Mendis but we need to give them more experience. Playing against a unit like Australia an inexperienced bowler cannot come and perform. If we are playing a 7-4 combination we can play only one spinner."

Dilshan coming down the order will mean it will be hard to find place for Thilan Samaraweera in the Test side, and 22-year-old Lahiru Thirimanne could become a permanent member of the XI, opening with Tharanga Paranavitana. "We have to discuss with Thilan and the selectors where he will fit in the batting order," Dilshan said.

After being outplayed for most of the first two Tests, Sri Lanka took a first-innings lead in the third, and Dilshan said they did have opportunities to level the series, pointing to the missed chance to run out Michael Clarke on the fifth day, when he was on just 13. Clarke got 112 in the end to help save the Test. "We missed a run out. If we had got that run out it would have been a different story today," Dilshan said.

While Clarke and Phillip Hughes scored centuries in the second innings in Colombo, Dilshan said it was Man-of-the-Series Michael Hussey who was the key man in Australia's line-up. "He batted in Galle with the tailenders and got 95 and changed the complexion of the match. He did the same in Pallakele and got a hundred and in the third Test he got another hundred. He is the main guy in their batting line-up. They are very strong with him in the middle. They bat around him."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Randolph on September 22, 2011, 3:01 GMT

    Hey dilly, how about worrying about losing more front line bowlers like Malinga to the IPL. Maybe you should lobby to drop your tickets prices so people actually go and you can afford to pay the players more!

  • Beau on September 22, 2011, 0:22 GMT

    @davidpk - So very tired of people complaining about pitches. EVERY SINGLE HOME SIDE PREPARES PITCHES TO SUIT THEIR TEAM. Sometimes it goes wrong and you get a road, sometimes a mine-field. The variations in conditions - day to day, test to test - keep things interesting. It's a part of the game, get over it.

  • Andrew on September 21, 2011, 23:30 GMT

    @Blake Houston - I think Eranga looks the goods. They also have a young bloke who hasn't had a debut yet - who can bowl 145+kph not sure if his name is Prasad or Pereira. They also didn't play Fernando in this series.

  • david on September 21, 2011, 12:56 GMT

    iv never shouted for the aussies to win anythingin my life till i looked a the wicket SL had prepared for the 1st test. and im pleased to say u deseve everthing u got. dpk

  • Ahsan on September 21, 2011, 11:17 GMT

    And what about Samaraweera, man with a Test average of 53? Srilanka have a dream middle order with Sangakkarra at 56, Jayawardene at 52 & then Samaraweera. Next question arises: Does Dilshan deserve a place in the Srilankan middle order?? Captain first have to justify or I should rather say CEMENT his place in the playing XI.

  • Ravi on September 21, 2011, 10:05 GMT

    It took that failed attempts to realize that he not the opening bat class at test level. The wham-bam approach in ODIs and 20-20 exhibited his limitations and that did translate to his poor performance. Sadly, the team collectively paid a price and suffered a a consequence. Murali-less failure is a lame excuse. Selectors, you need to do a better job.

  • Manesh on September 21, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    And SL played most of the matches at home in those 11 tests !

  • Samapth on September 21, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    End of the road to Thilan Samaraweera??????? So, Angelo and Dilshan must perform continusly in the middle order since Samaraweera is always available as replacement. Selectors must think about the wicket keeper possition.My personal view is to give the glouse to Kumar sangakkara to keep the Thilan samaraweera at middle.There is a contest between Thananga Paranawithana ,Lahiru Thirimanne,Dinesh Chandimal,Upul Tharanga and Malinda Warnapura for the opening batting.My choice is Paranawithana and experience Upul Tharanga.My test team is 1.Paranawithana 2.Tharanga 3.Sanga 4.Mahela 5.Thilan 6.Dilshan 7.Mathews 8.Eranga 9.Hearth 10.Mendis 11. Lakmal/welgedara

  • Fala on September 21, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    Hey Dilshan, here is better way to look at theoverall statics of SL. Since the new millenium started SL played 108 won 45 and lost 29. Out of the 45, 17 were against B'desh and zimbabwe. How about that ? SL selectors did the smartest thing by selecting 3 fast bowlers for the 3rd test. but the captain did not use them smartly. True Herath got 7 wickets but that was because the bastman gifted them. i have been telling this for ever. The SLC should start thinking of creating pitches to suit fast bowlers and have 3 pacies in the team and use them as much as possible. This will develop the pacies and gives a chance to bowl well in overseas pitches and get wickets. If they go on preparing wickets to help spinners... they might win an occasional game in SL but when they play overseas... only GOD can help them. \

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    Dilshan is captain so what he says goes, so he'll stay at 5...but SL need Samaraweera in the side because he can play a lot of balls. His test record speaks for itself, he should be an automatic selection....I feel Mahela must move up to opener with paranavitana then sanga 3 , samaraweera 4, dilshan then Mathews then prasanna. J. As for the bowling...there is no solution...there are no good quickies available

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