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Sri Lanka not playing as a team - SLC secretary

Tariq Engineer

January 5, 2012

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

Nishantha Ranatunga, the Sri Lanka Cricket secretary, with Upali Dharmadasa, the new SLC president, Colombo, January 3, 2012
Nishantha Ranatunga, the SLC secretary, wants to focus on under-19 and provincial cricket to develop players © AFP
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The main problem with Sri Lankan cricket at present is that the players are not playing as a unit, Nishantha Ranatunga, the newly elected secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), has said. Sri Lanka have struggled since reaching the 2011 World Cup final in April, losing Test and ODI series against Australia and Pakistan, and went nearly 18 months without winning a Test until their defeat of South Africa in Durban last month.

"The body language and the performance shows they are not playing as a team," Ranatunga told ESPNcricinfo. "It is an important issue for the board to address."

The win in the Boxing Day Test at Kingsmead, Sri Lanka's first ever in South Africa, represented a big turnaround in fortunes, and Ranatunga acknowledged the team had played well, with everybody contributing. He believed they have the talent to be consistently competitive but "they need to make sure they play for the country and not for individual performances."

Ranatunga's comments follow those made by the Sri Lankan Sports Minister, who said in Parliament in December that disunity and miscommunication were causing the losing streak. "At this moment, senior players stated that there's a communication gap between the captain and the main coach," Mahindananda Aluthgamage said, according to the Associated Press. "It was also highlighted that there was a communication gap between the main coach and the other coaches, that there was no proper understanding between the senior players and the new comers, and that the captain does not get the fullest support from the senior players."

SLC held elections for the first time in seven years on January 3, with Ranatunga standing for secretary as an independent candidate. He said his priorities will be to make sure the team performs well and that "proper selections are done" for all Sri Lanka teams. He also plans to focus on the Under-19 World Cup because Sri Lanka needs to find "two or three talented players for the future", as well as on organising the ICC World Twenty20, which will be held in the country later this year.

Ranatunga was also the interim committee secretary from 2009 to 2011. That committee increased the number of contracted players from 26 to 100, a move he expects will pay big dividends for Sri Lanka. "Out of these [additional] 74 players, 12 have already played for Sri Lanka," Ranatunga said. "You don't expect the players to work from 9 to 5 and then come and train and get into the national side. You need to make them professional cricketers. Then only the competitive levels of cricket will go up."

It is for the same reason that Ranatunga supports the implementation of a strong provincial cricket structure. Under the current system, the club cricket season is the primary season, while provincial cricket (Sri Lanka has nine provinces) is played whenever a gap can be found in the calendar. Colombo dominates the existing system because it has the infrastructure and is where most of the big cricket clubs are located. Players from further afield must therefore move to Colombo in order to pursue their cricketing careers, which is not always a possibility.

"We have found a lot of cricketers but we would have missed quite a few as well," Ranatunga said. "So it is the duty of the board to make sure that you give equal opportunity to outstation cricketers and have a system to bring them into the proper streamline. I am a firm believer of provincial cricket because the talent is there."

However, Ranatunga cautioned that it will take three or four years to put such a system in place and that the existing club structure should not be relegated to second-class status. "I don't think we should degrade club cricket because the infrastructure is already there. But you need to play a tournament where 70 of your best cricketers compete and get themselves selected to the national level rather than 150 players playing and getting into the national side."

11:45 GMT, Jan 5: The January 5 entry said Sri Lanka has seven provinces. This has been corrected

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

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Posted by Sri1967 on (January 8, 2012, 3:39 GMT)

@Mid_Wicket - I agree with you. If Mahela, Dilshan, Sanga doesn't perform, they should be dropped the way they've done for other's. I'm surprised why our selectors don't have guts to drop seniors. Look at Australia and South Africa, how many guys are on the bench who are fighting for their spot in the team. Ponting and Hussey are still performing for the team when it matters. Sanga and Mahela did not play for the team during their tour to UAE. They were busy shopping and attending dinners with their family. They weren't worried about fans. It's not cheap to go and watch a match now. Being professionals they should lead by example. Sanga threw his wicket in all ODI's once he achived his personal target for the day. Mahela was playing with injuries. We won the 2nd test in SA because Philander was not there as well as drop catches by SA. Thilan went as a stand by for Mahela and performed the best but why Mahela was there if he's not fit enough?.....to be cont

Posted by mohanan on (January 6, 2012, 17:50 GMT)

Dilshan doesn't seem to play according to the situation. He takes risks even when he shouldn't. There seems to be a rift between him and the senior players, and there is an opinion that he was handed captaincy because the selectors had no other option.

Posted by fadms on (January 6, 2012, 13:18 GMT)

Hopefully we avoid an innings defeat at least....

Posted by CKfrombrisbane on (January 6, 2012, 10:46 GMT)

Captaincy is a burden for Dilshan. He can not do it. For the sake of Sri Lankan cricket either Mahela or Sanga need to come forward and take the captaincy for few years.

Posted by Mid_Wicket on (January 6, 2012, 4:29 GMT)

following are the stats of mahela jayawardene's batting performance in last 12 Tests.

23 Innings/ JUST 559 RUNS / 1 hundred/ 2 fifties

how has he secured a place in the team ? he has wasted 20 innings out of his last 23. if paranawitana can be left out why its not applicable for this fellow. we all know he has played some glorious innings for SL. BUT if he cant perform well, he should also be removed from the team. anyone can see that he is taking responsibility and playing in south africa? absolute shame...

Posted by KingOwl on (January 6, 2012, 2:34 GMT)

I can understand the frustration expressed by fans here about the cricket board, which we all know has been run very poorly. But we also need to recognize that there is a problem in the team. It is not just about the captain. While I support the senior players, many appear to be more concerned about individual achievements than team achievements. Mahela's 10,000 was one such. He seemed to be obsessed with that even though I as a fan personally don't care much about the 10,000. If Mahela got a single big score during this entire series, that would have been far more valuable than a stupid milestone like that (may be he doesn't realize that). Same with most other senior players. The third test performance is gutless. It is clear that they are not giving 100%. Pretty disappointing, to be frank.

Posted by   on (January 5, 2012, 23:25 GMT)

Ha Ha Ha same old song again. We did well under Tom Moodey and Trevor Bayliss. Our problems started to surface after appointments of Dilshan and Rumesh Ratnayaka. Chandimal and Thirimanne are good young cricketers. I think Mahela is not performing now for a long period of time. What are you going to do Mr Ranatunga about Mahela?Dilshan cannot hold his place as a batsmen let alone to the captaincy. Where are the people like Isuru Udana, Marlon Vandort, and Malinga Bandara etc. We have nothing, no batsmen, no fast bowlers and no spinners. What we have unfortunately is politically motivated bankrupt CRICKET BOARD. Shame on you.

Posted by yorkslanka on (January 5, 2012, 22:18 GMT)

wow politics at its best..again...here is the problem along with a good player, who is a poor captain in Dilshan...

Posted by   on (January 5, 2012, 16:34 GMT)

Sangakara needs to be appointed captain in tests untill he can hand the reigns over to Matthews. South Africias 12th man on the field Dilshan got out with a woeful shot which would make any captain pull his hair out. Dilshan needs to work on his longer format game otherwise he could find it might not just be the captaincy he loses in the next few months but his place in the team. Based on Dilshans batting in this series I would rather have played Upul Tharanga at the top of the order instead.

My team for their next test series would be

Tharanga Thiramane Sangakara(capt) Jayawardne Sammerweera Matthews Chandimal (Wkt) Prasad Welegedera Herath Mendis

Posted by Shabney on (January 5, 2012, 16:30 GMT)

My question is what did the interim board do about this same issue in the past? Wasn't he a part of that same interim committee too? We cant blame the captain when, the board appoints him knowing that these issues would arise. It is not that they have not seen how Dilshan takes over a team. They have seen him captain the provincial and club teams. Someone needs to sit down with Sanga and request him to take over the captaincy with his deputy being the next probable sri lankan captain. That is how i see that you groom our next in line. Sanga is a great sportsman, with him carying so much pride towards his country, he needs to now think of it and its cricket and make himself available, with the opportunity to groom our next in line.

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