Ford wants consistency from Sri Lanka
The lack of consistency in the Sri Lankan middle order has been a concern for some time and head coach Graham Ford believes it is one area they need to keep improving on to become a successful one-day side.
"There have been some good moments and we have beaten some really good teams but we are not quite consistent enough," Ford said. "Sometimes we haven't finished off our batting innings as well as we would have liked. That does come with experience as players get more time at this level. Something we've just got to keep working on."
Ford was confident that with time the younger players who are expected to fill the shoes of senior cricketers like Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara in the future will be up to the task.
"At this stage we are still in the phase of the younger guys developing and learning from the seniors and that's why it's crucial that we strike up a balance," he said. "Hopefully, as they continue playing around the seniors, it won't be long before they are performing equally as well."
Sri Lanka thrashed South Africa in the first ODI on Saturday by 180 runs after Sangakkara made a career best 169. Jayawardene and Upul Tharanga had also chipped in with 42 and 43 runs respectively.
Ford, who as South Africa's coach between 1999 and 2002 helped them secure eight out of 11 Test-series wins, said he is well aware of the threat the visitors would pose for Sri Lanka.
"I don't want to go public about my thoughts on South Africa but we are fully aware that they are a very powerful one-day unit," he said. "South African teams are much better at playing on foreign conditions nowadays than they were some ten years ago. We can expect a very tough series."
Ford was happy with the way Angelo Mathews has handled the side since his elevation to the captaincy in February. "He's been fantastic. He has taken on the role really well and he leads by example. It hasn't been easy, he's had some very tough cricket but he's handled it exceptionally well," he said.
Ford, who has been the Sri Lanka coach since January 2012, highlighted the team's fighting spirit as a particularly heartening aspect of their cricket.
"The team has gelled well and there's been some stability in the roles that they have been asked to perform," he said. "What's impressed me the most is the fighting spirit amongst the group. We try to be really proud of that and to make sure we are a group of fighters. That has shown on a number of occasions. When times have been tough the boys have stuck together."
Ford is contracted by Sri Lanka Cricket till the end of January 2014.