New Zealand in Sri Lanka 2012-13

Sri Lanka face fast-bowling questions

With the tour of Australia looming, it's time for Sri Lanka's fast bowlers to match their spinners

Andrew Fernando

November 16, 2012

Comments: 56 | Text size: A | A

Suranga Lakmal is pumped up after dismissing Ryan Harris, Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Galle, 1st day, August 31, 2011
Sri Lanka are yet to find a permanent replacement for Chaminda Vaas © AFP

Heading into the two-Test series with New Zealand, Sri Lanka have the visitors beaten on paper in most aspects. A man-for-man comparison of the two top sixes might show that only Sri Lanka's opener, Tharanga Paranavitana, fails to command better numbers than his opposite. The chasm in quality is almost as wide among the spinners. Rangana Herath has bowled several match-turning spells for Sri Lanka in the last 12 months, both home and away, but Jeetan Patel's only five-wicket haul came in 2008. For all Kruger van Wyk's fight, Prasanna Jayawardene is more assured behind the stumps and with the bat, and Mahela Jayawardene remains at least as good as Ross Taylor in the slips.

Where Sri Lanka are soundly bested though, is in the pace bowling department. Since Chaminda Vaas retired in 2009, several bowlers have been tried, retried and jettisoned, without anyone making a sustained claim for the position of fast-bowling spearhead. Left-armer Thilan Thushara was Sri Lanka's great hope for a while, before his form and confidence fell away rapidly in 2010. Dilhara Fernando has appeared intermittently, but has done little to prove he is fit for Tests, or international cricket at all, and Suranga Lakmal was largely underwhelming before getting injured.

The fast bowlers currently in the squad do not inspire much more confidence. Chanaka Welegedara came closest to donning the spearhead's mantle when he had a number of encouraging outings in 2011, but he has also been listless in other spells, and is coming back from injury to boot. Nuwan Kulasekara is a fine limited-overs bowler, but in Tests, when the ball loses its shine and there is little swing on offer, he becomes very hittable at 130 kph. Dhammika Prasad suffers from the opposite ailment; he has pace, but not much else. And as promising as Shaminda Eranga has been, he has played too little international cricket to prove he can be Sri Lanka's pace panacea.

The problem for Sri Lanka is at domestic and school level, where pitches conducive to movement are scarce, and tracks with pace and bounce even rarer. To bowl fast in Sri Lanka is to toil while the spinners reap, and though some international cricket venues have suddenly become havens of swing and seam, first-class pitches remain tiresome for the quick men.

The fast bowlers in the national side however, cannot use poor pitches as an excuse for mediocrity, particularly with the challenges that loom in Australia. After the New Zealand series, Sri Lanka depart for their most high profile tour in years. Their first Test assignment is at Hobart, which was a greentop the last time a Test was played there, and has barely settled down since the square was relaid earlier this year. Sri Lanka's seam bowlers may get away with allowing the spinners to paper over their failures at home, but unless they take major strides in the Tests against New Zealand, they will be exposed by Australian pitches and a batting unit that has recently quelled the threat of even the most potent pace attack - South Africa.

Sri Lanka's fast bowlers may have a difficult beginning to the series in Galle, where spinners often rule, but if the November rains have livened up the surface, they may enjoy some assistance. A better measure of their worth, and a more accurate gauge of their prospects down under, will come in the second Test at the P Sara Oval, which has long been the most seam friendly Test venue in the country - though perhaps now, it has been pipped by Pallekele. Sri Lanka have only one warm up match in Australia, and the pace and bounce in the P Sara pitch might go some way to deciding which of Sri Lanka's fast men will take the field in Hobart.

New Zealand's more obvious batting weakness may be against spin, but as they proved in Hamilton earlier this year - again, against South Africa - they can be just as susceptible to fast bowling of high quality. If Sri Lanka's pace battery can emerge from this series having made significant contributions to a series win, they will have given themselves form and momentum, and some hope of taking their side to a first ever Test victory in Australia. If they cannot, Sri Lanka's campaign in Australia could well be stillborn.

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Sinhaya on (November 17, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

@reality_check27, by the way India should have lost 4-0 at home when Aussies toured India in late 2004! It was rain on the last day in Chennai which meant it was a draw and also 2 days of rain in Mumbai and of course the toss decided the whole game. Aussies came so close to winning but India were too lucky. So it was actually 4-0 for Australia in that series!

Posted by Sinhaya on (November 17, 2012, 8:44 GMT)

@reality_check27, if you are so desperate to look at the last 25 years Sri Lanka has played tests away, remember then you must look at India's test record away from 1933 to 1970 indeed. I can write a book showing how India got continuously thrashed away. Recall how India got all out for 54 in an ODI in Sharjah where the pitch is flat. That showS Indians are no bullies whatsoever.

Posted by Sinhaya on (November 17, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

@reality_check27, Indians are the pure flat track bullies. Sri Lankan pitches are spinning pitches as shown by Galle, P Sara, R Premadasa and Pallekelle. Look at India's test record in Australia since 1991 to today. Aussies have thrashed India in 14 out of the 20 tests. In 2004 tour, Warne and McGrath were missing and that was why India got a respite. So it is Indians who get thrashed big time away.

Posted by Sinhaya on (November 17, 2012, 8:33 GMT)

@reality_check27, yeah if Sri Lanka is only better than Bangladesh in tests, then remember in the last decade we registered test wins in South Africa, England, NZ, West Indies etc. There is a first time for everything like how we won in Durban last year, so we can win a test match in Australia too. Remember last time we were there, Sanga scored 192 and if there was DRS, he could have batted on and created history. This time there is full DRS and no room for umpiring howlers.

Posted by Sinhaya on (November 17, 2012, 8:29 GMT)

@reality_check27, how many years did India take to win a test match in Pakistan?? We have so far won 6 test matches in Pakistan in contrast to just 2 by you all and that only happened in 2004! But Pakistan thrashed you all in their 2nd ever test match in history in your shores and that too by an innings. India took 19 years to register their first ever test win but Sri Lanka and Pakistan took a very very short period to register their historic test match win. Check history first.

Posted by Sinhaya on (November 17, 2012, 8:25 GMT)

@reality_check27, we have not toured England adequately unlike India who toured England back in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s as well. We have registered 2 test wins in England in contrast to just 5 test wins which India have achieved since 1930. Yeah I am sure you predicted a 3-0 defeat for us in South Africa but it was all wrong. We have all to play for in Australia and I am sure you will get a hiding when you see how we play. I respect Aussies a lot so I know it is tough but we will have a lot of fans outthere cheering in numbers.

Posted by reality_check27 on (November 17, 2012, 5:28 GMT)

shevhan let me remind you hat we won in 2007 in england which is like england took 3 series to best in england they beat us after 12 years in england which is the seaming wicket and swining wicket and ur boosting about ur first test victory in soutafrica still u did not win a test series u lost while we drew the series in southafrica which is better than losing like srilanka what stata are you guys talking about you havent doner better than india and never will just to rtemind u in england u were saved becuase of rains otherwise u would have been whitewashed as well checked out the scores and in australia you will lose anyways

Posted by SLsupport on (November 17, 2012, 4:04 GMT)

I don't know what is wrong with these indian fans.They always try to predict before even a series starts.Remember history is there to be changed. Sri Lanka haven't won a world cup before 1996.That didn't meant they cannot win in 1996.

Posted by   on (November 17, 2012, 3:26 GMT)

we dont care abt the past-we are only looking at the future -you guys got thrashed in england and in aus how pathetic couldnt even draw a game- while we won a game in sa,you'll couldnt even do well in the cb series in aus where we came to the finals and we lost it because of our mistakes not because aus played better,indians please face the turth that you'll are flat track bullies

Posted by lukecannon on (November 17, 2012, 3:11 GMT)

@narbavi - Give them some time. When they are as mature as you are in test status (80 years) they will have plenty of series wins under their belt. Youngsters like Chandimal, Thirimanne and Perera look like future champions to me. and yea aren't India and Srilanka brothers? i dunno i m English.

Posted by   on (November 17, 2012, 2:58 GMT)

@everyone having a go at SL- SL is a country of 20 million people and has been at war for 30 years whereas india has 1.2 billion people. SL were considered minnows until they surprised everybody by winning the 96 WC and have reached 4 WC finals after that during a mere time of 30 years of test status compared to india's 80 SL have done superbly. SL is at a rebuilding country after the war and the team as well. Has any of you indians forgotten that it was sanath jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana invented pinch hitting. That has evovled to modern day T20. If it wasnt for them there wont be an ipl. So show a little respect to this tiny island nation for doing so well after test status was gained.

Posted by Htc-Android on (November 17, 2012, 2:56 GMT)

@Narbavi I agree with you we are yet to win a test match in Ind and Aus. but can you tell me why did your team took 38 years to win a test match overseas. your first overseas win came in 1968 in New zealand. Whereas our first overseas win came in 1995(after 12 years) in new zealand. so tell me who did better at their beginning. your team is doing better than us only because of 1 billion population and 80 years of history. just check the amount of professional cricketers in india and Sri lanka.

Posted by anuradea on (November 16, 2012, 19:19 GMT)

@Narbavi 1.2 billon vs 20 million, 80years vs 30 years, Billon + dollars net worth of BCCI vs negative net worth of SLC. Shouldn't india be doing all the things you mentioned anyway?

Posted by anuradea on (November 16, 2012, 18:41 GMT)

Posted by on (November 16 2012, 16:18 PM GMT), do not know what he is talking about. Have you played with Rama or even seen him bowl. I have played with him keeping wickets at 1st class level and he was a fine bowler who moved the ball both ways at 135kph. Please do not comment on what you do not know to discredit the past players who had served well. He is a fine coach as well and unfortunatety has to work with a limited amount of talent available to him. You can teach fast bowlers how to swing and control, but you can not add pace to what they already have. Otherwise everyone in the world will be bowling at 160kph or more. As the article states the problem are the 1st class wickets in SL and most of the captains are batsmen and would not allow fast pitches to be made for 1st class and school games. I am sure we have the fast bowling talent especially in the villages and the scouts will simply have to look harder. Blaming the coach is the easiest option but not the best.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 16:18 GMT)

SLC pls throw away useless Ramanayake the bowling coach...always keep hes place hangiing on malingas tail but doing nothing for Bowlers..we all know how pathetic bowler he was ..onlu know how to run and bowl dollies..:p get some knowlegeable person for this post ..Vass,Rumesh rathnayake or paks one of 2 Ws..

Posted by Peternarendra on (November 16, 2012, 14:51 GMT)

Can anybody tell me which is the team of which playes some times appealed for outs when the opposit batsman touched the ball, when the non striker of the opposition ran just before the bowl being delevered, when the batsman blocked a throw by his bat... Please remember, cricket is a game of gentlements apart from the statistics. It is not a game of rude players or fans.

Posted by Narbavi on (November 16, 2012, 14:12 GMT)

Your team made finals of world cups? Damn, our teams have won them in 2007 and again last year in 2011, your team made CB series finals? Ha, our team won it in 2008, we lost 8-0? Yes we did, but you got no right to mock us since you have never won a series in England whereas we have won many a time and more recently in 2007, we have also notched up famous wins in Aus whereas your team has failed to win even once!! And everyone knows how pathetic your record is in India which is a subcontinent country like yours!!

Posted by gnanzcupid on (November 16, 2012, 14:12 GMT)

NZ has played most of their recent matches(all formats) in the subcontinent.Their performance is improving day by day.They showed marked improvement towards their last few tests even in india though they failed to deliver as a single unit.So to peak it all,Sl is expected to bite the dust atleast in a single test and may find it difficult even to draw the remaining

Posted by Narbavi on (November 16, 2012, 14:10 GMT)

lankans gained test status late? So? Haven't times changed? if you got test status way later than us then that means your team has been that bad, do not give these sort of excuses for being unable to win in Australia and India!!

Posted by Return-of-Sinhaya on (November 16, 2012, 14:07 GMT)

@Vihanga Vithanage: Is it that funny? i will tell u how, you see your team has never won a single test match in Aussie soil and also in India, your batsmen make merry in pointless flat home pitches, why don't u talk about your great Jayawardena and others records in Australia and England? and you make fun of India's 8-0, lol

Posted by Narbavi on (November 16, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

@Migara: Should i remind you that you have never won a test match in India and Australia let alone a series whereas we played exceptional cricket in england and Australia in 2007 and 2008?

Posted by reality_check27 on (November 16, 2012, 13:04 GMT)

and so u guys should know that srilanka were whitewashed by asutralia at home 3-0 in 2003/2004 u get whitewashed at home as well mate and since 1992 srilanka have played 7 test matches in australia and have drawn only one and have lost 6 teset matches that like 6-0 drubbing which is really poor where are you guys going to hide now and another fact australia has played 9 teset matches in srilanka have have lost only one and have won 5 you get bullied by them at home as well crickinfo please publish

Posted by Htc-Android on (November 16, 2012, 12:57 GMT)

@reality_check27 Except Aus and pak. can u tell tell me who has better record in test matches in Sri lanaka against sri lanka. In the past 19 years SA only won one test and one ODI Sri lanka. Thats how good we are at home and u are saying we cant even win at home.

Posted by Migara on (November 16, 2012, 11:40 GMT)

@Adingoth: We can remember who got a 4-0 and 3-0 thrashing.

Posted by reality_check27 on (November 16, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

yes not play against australia and soutafrica and england where we have managed to win series twice in england and have drawn series in southafrica nd have won some test matches in australia and hve drwan tets series there as well in compared to srilanka whohave only won once in england and have never even won one test match in india and asutralia let alone a series and have won only tets match in south africa and it will effect my dignity i think you should be worried about yours more than mine while srilanak is yet to win a tets match in australia and india mate

Posted by gnanzcupid on (November 16, 2012, 11:28 GMT)

Srilankan bowling is in disarray after VAAS and the great MURALI .Put your hands up, Who wants to win a test series in sub-continent?? Come to SRI LANKA.

Posted by gnanzcupid on (November 16, 2012, 11:25 GMT)

Here comes the match of minnows(SL obviously) against a much better adapted team to sub continent conditions.Go NZ GO!!!!!

Posted by Test-is-the-best on (November 16, 2012, 10:48 GMT)

@ reality_check27 ,please ask your team to not to play test matches out side sub continent any more. Specially against Australia,England & South Africa. It will affect your dignity

Posted by reality_check27 on (November 16, 2012, 10:38 GMT)

@vihanag if u would have read what i commented u would have known what i am talking abut i said last 25 years in which india and srilanka have played outside subcontinent please read and then reply mate and do check the stats before you come here and reply and as far as srilanka reaching many world cup finals india has three world cups 2 50 overs orld cup and 1 t20 while u just have 1 world cup o that still tells me not better than india mate

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 10:35 GMT)

@sobersfan, I usually don't like to criticise in cricinfo articles btu I'm sick of people saying that Sangakkara is a flat track bully, people were also saying this when he went to no 1. of the rankings. Show me how he is honestly if you think so.People jump on the "flat track bully bandwagonwithout consulting facts: Sanga averages more away than home, he averages at least around 40 against every nation. He has scored hundreds in every single country , (except possibly West Indies? I will double check that). His hundred against Australia in Hobart in 2007 was named by cricinfo as innings of the year, and is one of the better innings played there in recent memory. As a pure batsman (without gloves) he is second only to Don Bradman, in terms of stats I mean (personally think Tendulkar and kallis are better) He is the second fastest to 9000 runs, has the second highest average of modern players withover 10000 runs, he is a modern day LEGEND! He is always in the top ten scorers for the yea

Posted by lukecannon on (November 16, 2012, 10:08 GMT)

@reality_check27 u must be reminded that Srilanka gained test status in the 1980s they v done surprisingly well compared to other test nations in their short run so far. cut them some slack bro. and don't forget it was a srilankan that invented pinch hitting in the 90s- Jayasuriya which would later become T20. they have given plenty to cricket .

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 10:06 GMT)

@reality_check27... We havent said indians r flat track bullies..that is your own word soberfan... we just remind u what happened in last aussy tour of sl and india...seems it hurt u a lot..

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

@reality_check27 - hahaha Sri lanka gained test status in 1981 and India in 1932 . there's a gap of 50 YEARS. and we'v reached so many WC finals . always been consistent and have produced unforgettable cricketers to world cricket. We'v done much MUCH better than India after our test status was gained." remember... a gap of 50 YEARS kiddo " lol .now go and do ur homework.

Posted by reality_check27 on (November 16, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

i dont understand thsi when srilankans say that indian tracks are flat tracks u havent won a single test match in india and u call indian tracks flat tracks srilanka hasnt even won a tets match in australia so that means all tacks in australia are flat as well and if ur tracks are so green seeming wickets than your players should be good playing outside subcontinent now check out your team stats outside subcontinent and check out india stats they are way better than srilanka can ever achieve u cant even beat good teams at home so ur right u arent flat tracks bullies ur no bullies no matter what kind of track given

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 9:42 GMT)

@soberfan.. flat track bullies like sanga, mahela...oops R u kidding cant you remember last SL t0ur to ausralia.. where sanga made 190+ runs and given bad decision, and last indian tour to aus.. where no indian made a good impact... and i wonder why this much of indians making such negative comments on SL team articles where they r not a part.. i barely see sl fans commenting harsh on indian team on their own articles.... mind your own business man....cricinfo pls publish

Posted by lukecannon on (November 16, 2012, 9:30 GMT)

Thisra Perera should play along with N Kulesekara as the pacers. Mathews should support them.

Posted by reality_check27 on (November 16, 2012, 9:24 GMT)

vihanga this is not about t20 but let me tell you that india has won the t20 worldcup but i remember a new choker 2007 worldcup srilanka chokes against australia 2009 world t20 world cup srilanka choke against pakistan world cup 2011 finals srilanka chokes against india and world cup t20 finals 2012 srilanka chokes against west indies at home your team in test matches at home drawn test series with india drawn a test series with engalnd lost test series againt australia you cant even win at home forget anywhere else mate and not to mention your test records in past 25 years has been only better than bangladeh check stats and then comment please

Posted by lukecannon on (November 16, 2012, 9:24 GMT)

@Adingoth dude are u serious? havnt u watched the 8-0 whitewash enuf to even start thinking of making stupid comments about Srilanka? they were defeated 1-0 when they toured England last summer and the match they lost was due to an unbelievable collapse. Srilanka will surely put up a much better show against AUS than India. Plz publish cricinfo

Posted by reality_check27 on (November 16, 2012, 9:23 GMT)

vihanga this is not about t20 but let me tell you that india has won the t20 worldcup but i remember a new choker 2007 worldcup srilanka chokes against australia 2009 world t20 world cup srilanka choke against pakistan world cup 2011 finals srilanka chokes against india and world cup t20 finals 2012 srilanka chokes against west indies at home your team in test matches at home drawn test series with india drawn a test series with engalnd lost test series againt australia you cant even win at home forget anywhere else mate and not to mention your test records in past 25 years has been only better than bangladesh check stats and then comment please

Posted by tanstell87 on (November 16, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

Indian fan here....i feel Kulasekara-Fernando-Thisara & Mathews are enough for Aussies...India struggled in Australia because of batting failures...Sri Lanka should play Chandimal & Thirimanne regularly- they look great players in the making.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 9:11 GMT)

sri lanka have a boy call nuwan pradeep !!!!! you should give more chances to this guy to improve every time match after match you drop him ..and he is one of the fastest bowler in the island......some one who dominate aussy batsman in Adelaide...@ sobers fan......can you describe where r u from to tell that sl guys are slow track bullies ????? hope u r not a indian. if u r a indian then you know who is flat track bullies......

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 9:07 GMT)

@Adingoth - It's always funny how indians predict results of games even before they are played. why don't you try to figure out why India couldn't even reach semis in the WorldT20 ( when played in the subcontinent) there's a good fella. lol

Posted by stormy16 on (November 16, 2012, 9:02 GMT)

There's far too much focus on Aus from all fronts including Mahela while the job on hand is to beat NZ at home. SL's issues with pace bowling is nothing new and not much has been done about it (anyone considered that the coach has remained unchanged for a long long time!) but finally we are seing wickets that may provide the spark. SLC would have to play local cricket at Pallekela and Hambantota to use these conditions to develop fast bowling. Chances are neither venue will be used for local cricket. The real danger for SL is with rain and humidity, the conditions can turn in favor of seam and swing in whcih the Kiwi's are much better suited to handling.

Posted by reality_check27 on (November 16, 2012, 9:00 GMT)

when are srilankans planning to win their first test in australia i think glaciers in antarctica will melt before you can do naything ike that and ofcourse your team hasnt won a tets match in india either .

Posted by Migara on (November 16, 2012, 8:51 GMT)

The selectors have been blind to bowling talent. Shaminda Eranga and Kanishka Elvitigala have been doing well for some time now. Together with Kulasekara as the stock bowler there is something to work with, especially given that Eranga and Elvitigala does a lot off the pitch. Welegedara on form should be good news. But SL should try to get Suranga Lakmal fit as well. Shouldn't waste talents as we have wasted Thilan Thushara who once was second only to Mitch Jhonson in pace.

Posted by sahanck8286 on (November 16, 2012, 8:40 GMT)

i totally agree to this. YES, Sri Lanka needs a better Fast attack

Posted by Hareendra on (November 16, 2012, 8:34 GMT)

They should play Nuwan Kulasekara and Shaminda Eranga as the two pace bowlers. No debate there!

Posted by dilr on (November 16, 2012, 8:15 GMT)

Dilhara Fernando Pls Retire From All Format of Cricket,its our Hope....

Posted by Return-of-Sinhaya on (November 16, 2012, 8:13 GMT)

Why worry about the Aussie tour when you already know you will get thrashed 3-0? First test alone may last 4 full days as it is played in Hobart which is usually a flat wicket!!

Posted by Sulaimaan91 on (November 16, 2012, 8:07 GMT)

Kulasekara and Welgedara should be in the starting XI and need to be given a consistent run.The 3rd pacie who will be needed especially in Aus should be decided between Eranga,Prasad or Pradeep.Thisara Perera would be handy in Aus as well, SL do have the players but they need to be given a long run in the team.

Posted by Uppercut07 on (November 16, 2012, 7:43 GMT)

Well Welegedara did a commendable job in SA and in the 1st test vs England, he is probably the best of the lot, I wud go with Welegedara, Eranga and Kula as our 1st choice pacemen in the Aus tour. Lakmal and Prasad as cover

Posted by Udendra on (November 16, 2012, 7:33 GMT)

the only effective bowlers we have are Shaminda Eranga and Kulasekara.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 7:09 GMT)

sl should import fast bowlers from aus,nz and eng

Posted by DSN CRIC CLUB on (November 16, 2012, 6:53 GMT)


Posted by AMAZINGFAN on (November 16, 2012, 6:14 GMT)

sl has no chance of winning a test match in aus......with club-level bowlers like eranga,welegedra and with flat track bullies like mahela,sanga sl can't win test series in aus.....

Posted by 9ST9 on (November 16, 2012, 6:09 GMT)

The stupidest thing SL have done is not have Thissara Perera in the Test squad. The last time he played he Picked up 5 against Pakistan why on earth is he not even in the squad???

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