Sri Lanka news May 17, 2011

Atapattu wants to bridge batting gulf within team

Sri Lanka's batting coach Marvan Atapattu has said there is a big gulf between the batting ability of senior batsmen Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene and remaining batsmen in the national side.

"Just because a batting coach has been given to a national side it doesn't mean you are going to be No. 1 tomorrow, "Atapattu told ESPNcricinfo. "We've got to work ourselves up and at the same time the batsmen that we have, the two senior-most are one hundred times better than the others. They have been the best for a number of years in the top five."

Atapattu's first assignment with the team is the tour of England and while he acknowledges there is still "room for improvement" within the Sri Lankan side, he says will look at giving "options" to batsmen to help make them "better players" and work towards "getting their contribution" which is best suited to the team. "What I am focusing on is not to put myself under too much of pressure and more importantly not put too much pressure on the players,"

Atapattu, who played 90 Tests and 268 ODIs for Sri Lanka, said it was important to keep a fresh inflow of ideas and constantly innovate to get the best out of the players. "As a unit we've got to make the best use of the individuals, to get the best we want and then try and improve the individuals to get the best out of them by way of technique, mental plus skill.

"Coaching is not all about how to play a back foot or a forward defence or a cover drive but about knowing somebody's routines and what is best suited for the individual."

Sri Lanka beat Middlesex by four wickets, in their first tour match. They next play the England Lions in a four-day tour match that begins on Thursday. The first Test against England starts on May 26 in Cardiff.