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

Dilshan to stay at No. 5

27

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

  • RandyOZ 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!

  • beejaytee 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.

  • Meety 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.

  • bumsonseats 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_Shere 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.

  • Sinaha 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.

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

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

  • sampi72 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

  • rumyfala 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. \

  • 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

  • RandyOZ 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!

  • beejaytee 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.

  • Meety 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.

  • bumsonseats 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_Shere 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.

  • Sinaha 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.

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

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

  • sampi72 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

  • rumyfala 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. \

  • 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

  • Geeva on September 21, 2011, 6:04 GMT

    WHAT HAPPENS TO SAMARAWEERA HE HAS BEEN SOLID FOR SRI LANKA GOT 2 FIFTYS IN ENGLAND AND I LOOKED HE WAS CONSISTEMT FOR THE LAST 3 YEARS.

  • on September 21, 2011, 4:28 GMT

    Upul tharanga who scored 12 tons in ODI's & fit to open the innings as a opener in tests.

  • Chris_P on September 21, 2011, 2:36 GMT

    You can only play the cards you were dealt. Sure there is no Murali, but there was enough to suggest that the new players the Lankans selected can deliver long term. Like anything, time is the key. How the results were achieved means nothing, it is what you can take away as experience to develop your improvement is the main criteria. Good luck for the future.

  • on September 21, 2011, 2:20 GMT

    wish sri lanka best of luck in the rebuilding phase!

  • johnathonjosephs on September 21, 2011, 1:55 GMT

    @Ellis are you reading the same article? Dilshan basically said that Sri Lanka does not have the firepower to bowl other teams out and that Murali was their main guy to do this in the past. How is he defending his team? Dilshan may be a lot of things but making excuses like Captain Cool of our neighbors up north does is not something he does

  • RandyOZ on September 21, 2011, 1:52 GMT

    @5wombats, you only say we aren't that good because you don't want to admit that we actually are. England are seriously worried about the Aussie turn around.

  • beejaytee on September 21, 2011, 0:08 GMT

    Always interesting to hear from Dilshan. He is very open, and analyses the game well, at least in retrospect. He's right about Huss - without him this series could have gone very differently. He's also correct in saying that SL are going to do it tough for a while, but with the state of NZ & co., they probably won't fall much further in the rankings any time soon. Plenty of positives for SL - Eranga looks like a find, and if they manage Mendis well they might have a great pair for the rest to bowl around in a couple of years. Not Vaas/ Murali good, but then, who is? Matthews continues to develop, and if Para & Thirimanne gel at the top the batting lineup looks fearsome indeed. I doubt many bowlers would relish the thought of prying out Sanga & Mahela only to face Dilshan...

  • on September 20, 2011, 23:39 GMT

    Few things that can be observed on Australian batting line up is that they weren't playing very well on live seeming conditions, so the South African tests might well be difficult for them just as the English. Michael Hussey seems to be the only guy who can fend off such an attack. The rest are very volatile, and unreliable. They will regret leaving Simon Katich out in South Africa. Lyon doesn't seem to be an attacking bowler, and Copeland is too slow. I think Siddle, Bolllinger and Harris seem to be the bes combination for SA.

  • on September 20, 2011, 22:18 GMT

    I think Sri Lanka need to give Sangakara the test captaincy as Dilshan seems a weak captain tactically. I agree he should bat at 5 in tests as he is too attacking to be an opener in tests and batting at 5 will alow him the freedom to express himself with his batting better. Also the fact that the side will need him to bowl a few overs because Angelo Matthews isnt bowling at the moment. Looking back at this recent test between sri Lanka and Australia is why Herath didnt bowl round the wicket more to the right handers. Bowling over the wicket I felt was too negative and brought back flashbacks of Ashley Giles bowling over the wicket boring the batsman to the extent that they might as well dropped their bats and padded up becuase of the outside leg stump line they were bowling.

  • Buggsy on September 20, 2011, 21:43 GMT

    I'm afraid that unless they start investing heavily in some fast bowlers, Sri Lankan cricket is headed for some very dark days.

  • KingOwl on September 20, 2011, 21:13 GMT

    Bowlers win test matches. SL needs time to develop the bowlers. It would have been nice to have a bunch of younger players ready to take over. But it just doesn't happen that way. Look at the Aussie bowling attack. It's nothing like what it used to be. It won't be for a while either. India's bowling cupboards are empty. England have a good seam bowling attack. But it took time to build. Besides, they are still untested in the subcontinent. So, SL need not dispair. But they need to work hard and give experience to the young bowlers. They certainly have the talent. The fast bowlers did well. So did Rangana Herath (7 wickets on that flat track!).

  • on September 20, 2011, 21:07 GMT

    Ajantha in and Malinga persuaded out of 'retirement' and u have serious platform to build on!

  • landl47 on September 20, 2011, 20:41 GMT

    Sri Lanka's bowling clearly isn't strong enough to challenge the top sides. The comment that SL have only lost 2 of the last eleven tests is misleading; they would have lost the second and third tests in England but for the weather and the second test against Australia if the full number of overs had been bowled. While their batting is still useful, Dilshan himself will shortly turn 35 and Mahela, Sanga and Samaweera are also well into their thirties. Other than Mathews and a glimpse or two from Paranavitana, the next generation doesn't seem to be in the same class. I think Pakistan are in a much better place, with useful seam bowling and some decent young batsmen. SL's series against them will indeed show their relative strength and I don't expect SL will come out of it too well.

  • Ellis on September 20, 2011, 20:29 GMT

    As always, a lot of talk from the SL captain after a series loss. No other captains can take as many positives out of losing series whether Test or ODIs, as SL captains do. They have now lost a Test series to England they should never have lost, and both Test and ODI series to Australia that they were expected to win. It must be the water they drink in SL that keeps them so positive! Or is it that if you do not look too closely at your problems, they will magically disappear? At present, the batting, bowling, and fielding, are below what is required to be in the top echelon.Add to that a lack of stomach for a fight and you have the SL team. A good middle of the table team, no more.

  • on September 20, 2011, 19:55 GMT

    lets see how they manage against pakistan

  • 5wombats on September 20, 2011, 18:04 GMT

    I surprised and disappointed at Sri Lanka. Such a fighting and difficult team to beat - what happened Sri Lanka?? I'd like to know why Mathews played that Innnings. What was that all about??? In fact - what has happened to SL batting this series??? Aus really aren't that good - and they are away from home here. Aus batting is pretty flakey - put pressure and they are gone. PS - I'm not an Aussie.... shhhh....! :-)

  • likeintcricket on September 20, 2011, 17:49 GMT

    Very honest comments about his team. It was all Muralitharan who won the matches for them and Vass was a very good helper. Mendis is a good bowler but not unplayable like Murali. Fortunately Sri Lanka still have got two world class batsmen in its rank, Sangakara & Mahela, and they are still managing to draw some matches otherwise things could be difficult for them. Series against Pakistan will determine their current ranking though they are still a better side than Pak.

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  • likeintcricket on September 20, 2011, 17:49 GMT

    Very honest comments about his team. It was all Muralitharan who won the matches for them and Vass was a very good helper. Mendis is a good bowler but not unplayable like Murali. Fortunately Sri Lanka still have got two world class batsmen in its rank, Sangakara & Mahela, and they are still managing to draw some matches otherwise things could be difficult for them. Series against Pakistan will determine their current ranking though they are still a better side than Pak.

  • 5wombats on September 20, 2011, 18:04 GMT

    I surprised and disappointed at Sri Lanka. Such a fighting and difficult team to beat - what happened Sri Lanka?? I'd like to know why Mathews played that Innnings. What was that all about??? In fact - what has happened to SL batting this series??? Aus really aren't that good - and they are away from home here. Aus batting is pretty flakey - put pressure and they are gone. PS - I'm not an Aussie.... shhhh....! :-)

  • on September 20, 2011, 19:55 GMT

    lets see how they manage against pakistan

  • Ellis on September 20, 2011, 20:29 GMT

    As always, a lot of talk from the SL captain after a series loss. No other captains can take as many positives out of losing series whether Test or ODIs, as SL captains do. They have now lost a Test series to England they should never have lost, and both Test and ODI series to Australia that they were expected to win. It must be the water they drink in SL that keeps them so positive! Or is it that if you do not look too closely at your problems, they will magically disappear? At present, the batting, bowling, and fielding, are below what is required to be in the top echelon.Add to that a lack of stomach for a fight and you have the SL team. A good middle of the table team, no more.

  • landl47 on September 20, 2011, 20:41 GMT

    Sri Lanka's bowling clearly isn't strong enough to challenge the top sides. The comment that SL have only lost 2 of the last eleven tests is misleading; they would have lost the second and third tests in England but for the weather and the second test against Australia if the full number of overs had been bowled. While their batting is still useful, Dilshan himself will shortly turn 35 and Mahela, Sanga and Samaweera are also well into their thirties. Other than Mathews and a glimpse or two from Paranavitana, the next generation doesn't seem to be in the same class. I think Pakistan are in a much better place, with useful seam bowling and some decent young batsmen. SL's series against them will indeed show their relative strength and I don't expect SL will come out of it too well.

  • on September 20, 2011, 21:07 GMT

    Ajantha in and Malinga persuaded out of 'retirement' and u have serious platform to build on!

  • KingOwl on September 20, 2011, 21:13 GMT

    Bowlers win test matches. SL needs time to develop the bowlers. It would have been nice to have a bunch of younger players ready to take over. But it just doesn't happen that way. Look at the Aussie bowling attack. It's nothing like what it used to be. It won't be for a while either. India's bowling cupboards are empty. England have a good seam bowling attack. But it took time to build. Besides, they are still untested in the subcontinent. So, SL need not dispair. But they need to work hard and give experience to the young bowlers. They certainly have the talent. The fast bowlers did well. So did Rangana Herath (7 wickets on that flat track!).

  • Buggsy on September 20, 2011, 21:43 GMT

    I'm afraid that unless they start investing heavily in some fast bowlers, Sri Lankan cricket is headed for some very dark days.

  • on September 20, 2011, 22:18 GMT

    I think Sri Lanka need to give Sangakara the test captaincy as Dilshan seems a weak captain tactically. I agree he should bat at 5 in tests as he is too attacking to be an opener in tests and batting at 5 will alow him the freedom to express himself with his batting better. Also the fact that the side will need him to bowl a few overs because Angelo Matthews isnt bowling at the moment. Looking back at this recent test between sri Lanka and Australia is why Herath didnt bowl round the wicket more to the right handers. Bowling over the wicket I felt was too negative and brought back flashbacks of Ashley Giles bowling over the wicket boring the batsman to the extent that they might as well dropped their bats and padded up becuase of the outside leg stump line they were bowling.

  • on September 20, 2011, 23:39 GMT

    Few things that can be observed on Australian batting line up is that they weren't playing very well on live seeming conditions, so the South African tests might well be difficult for them just as the English. Michael Hussey seems to be the only guy who can fend off such an attack. The rest are very volatile, and unreliable. They will regret leaving Simon Katich out in South Africa. Lyon doesn't seem to be an attacking bowler, and Copeland is too slow. I think Siddle, Bolllinger and Harris seem to be the bes combination for SA.