Sri Lanka news January 6, 2012

Sri Lanka need mental strength - Duleep Mendis


Duleep Mendis, the chairman of selectors for Sri Lanka, has said the team is going through a period of transition and needs to be given time to start performing consistently. Sri Lanka's victory over South Africa in Durban in December 2011 was their first in Tests for 18 months, and the team had faced plenty of criticism during their barren run. However, Mendis said it was only a matter of time before the team came together.

"You need to develop the spinners," he told ESPNcricinfo. "You need to develop the fast bowlers. Now Rangana Herath is becoming a good bowler. Even for the seamers, you need to give them a little time to play matches and to get wickets. They should know how to get 20 wickets.

"You need to give them time. You need to give them matches. Then only will you gradually become successful."

When Kumar Sangakkara resigned as captain after the 2011 World Cup, he said it was to give Sri Lanka a chance to start planning for the 2015 tournament, and Mendis confirmed that the selectors were looking at player development in that context. Their strategy, he said, was to blood young players in the limited-over formats first, and then in Tests.

"What we thought was we will put more emphasis on the youngsters in the T20 games and some of the one-day games. Then even in the Test team, we thought, whenever possible, we will introduce some of the youngsters into the side and see how they perform."

Since Sri Lanka's loss to India in the World Cup final on April 2, 2011, eight Sri Lanka players made their debuts in Test cricket, four in one-day cricket and five in T20 internationals.

According to Mendis, the key trait the players needed to develop was the mental strength to cope with the demands of top-level cricket. "You need a lot of mental coaching. You come to Test level and what you need is mental strength. You have learned the technical aspects of the game already, so you need the mental strength to go through difficult times, and to come out of the difficult times."

One of the main criticisms Sri Lanka faced over the last year and a half has been their bowling attack's lack of incisiveness, but Mendis said the pace department was shaping up well. "I would say the pace attack is not a problem. We are going with Dilhara [Fernando], who is clocking 140kph, Chanaka Welegedara, who is bowling well, Dhammika Prasad and Thisara Perera."

At the same time, he said there was room for improvement and that there was a problem in the spin department but "with a lot of experience gained on these tours, they will come into a position where they can become match-winners."

To ease the transition, and to cope with any injury problems, Mendis said the selectors had earmarked a group of 10 bowlers and a similar number of batsmen as players with the potential to play for the national side. "Some of them are performing well in the A team," he said. "Some of them are performing well with some of the other teams and the best are in the national team."

Sri Lanka's defeat of South Africa in Durban came after they received a three-day hammering in Centurion. According to Mendis, that defeat would have rankled the side and motivated them to prove themselves in the next game. "When you get beaten in one game, you want to do well in the next game; just to make a comeback and show that you can do much better than the other side. It was a good team effort to beat South Africa in South Africa for the first time.

"To beat any country away is something to talk about and especially to beat South Africa for the first time in South Africa, it was a great victory."

What Mendis wanted to see is the team producing those kinds of results on a regular basis. "You need a lot of encouragement for the players and you need to put them on the right path, but more than anything else, I always emphasise, you need a lot of mental strength."

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 8, 2012, 17:56 GMT

    Dear Mr, Dulip Mendis... I have some questions for you.... 1.Can you please explain who is the next captain for sri lanka after putting dilshan out of the role? 2.who is going to replace Sangakkara, Mahela, Dilshan, Samaraweera in next two years? 3.Do you have any plan of Spinning Attack to tale 20 wickets in Tests? 4.If Malinga is not available, do you have any replacement to bowl 140+?

    I guess you do not have any answer,Then I will give some suggestions.

    1. The next captain for another 6 years = Upul Tharanga reason = the most experienced exept sanga & Mahela & Dilshan.... Two World cup Finals.... Two entire CWC tournaments... more than 100 matches... do not make Mathews the captain, coz he is going to be like yuvraj in india.

    2.For Sangakkara - use Dimuth Karunarathna as much as possible in ODIs & Tests for Mahela - Give chandimal almost every test & ODI For Samaraweera - Bhanuka Rajapaksha For Dilshan - Arrenge Kapugedera, coz he has shown it

    3.Use the develpoment ..

  • lananad on January 8, 2012, 5:14 GMT

    How often SL get to play test against SA & Aus? It is sad not so often. I think if SL get to play more test they will adopt and perform better. Not only Mahela all top order players will deliver. Shame on India they get to play more often but still fail to deliver in crunch games ,even though with all the stars.

  • Priyankara on January 7, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    Mr, Dulip Mendis, I'm asking you to give a big favour for your country, Please READ THESE COMMENTS. Thank You.

  • I on January 7, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    i see many SL fans requesting to make Mahela capain. But the reality is i dont even see any reason why he should be even kept in the team. he needs to be replaced. These ppl have not included samaraweera in the ODIs and i am sure this will be disadvantagoues to SL. Samaraweera was the only batsman who performed well against SA bowlers in their pitches and now we re sending him home. Mahela who didnt perform at all has secured a place and even fans want him to be the captain. Funny set of events...

  • Sarath on January 7, 2012, 16:57 GMT

    You can't blame anyone else, you only picked all these risky stroke makers as front-line bats and persisted with them even though their performances were so pathetic to describe. So pls don't blame others b'cos you're yet to learn the importance of employing S'weera orTrott class of bats as front-liners, Not knowing how to leave balls there to be left alone and to stroke balls all along the ground at consistent basis, performing successfully on these SAan Wkts would be only a dream. Not only you almost all s'ctors who've been in office for the last25Ys are responsible for these blunders. Fans are yet to witness a chance-less innings from these indispensable front-line batters of yours. After all when you have 3 top grade batsmen (who have maintained consistency from very young age as 15) who've forced their way into the Squad (not picked as in the case of Ajantha, Ch'dimal & M'hews) in Kausal, Dimuth, T'manne,.. you could've easily employ them instead of these reckless hitters.

  • viran on January 7, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    Dueleep Mendis strategies especially with regard to Kalu and jayasuriya won sl the 96 world cup. But now it's time for him to retire and let another gnu take over. Dueleep Mendis is making all the wrong decisions. And mahela needs to retire...he's failing over over and over again. Chandimal is sls best best man now by far. Dilshan should resign from captainincy and let sangakkara be the captain. If he doesn't want drop him too.

  • Dummy4 on January 7, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    Duleep Mendis .......are you know what are you talking about ??? you are good jocker

  • Dummy4 on January 7, 2012, 7:41 GMT

    See how silly the Chairman of Selectors talking ? You guys dropped Thilan, the best Batsman against Pakistan and lost in UAE. For SA tour, you dropped him again at first but somehow to the Country's luck you re-included him and we were saved thanks to him. In pace attack why Thisara over Lalmal etc ? ( Thisara is my favorite but that's a different story. he is an ODI Player ). And finally how sillily you guys guided Dilshan in the Toss in 3rd Test ? Please do not think SL Fans are fools.

  • Ravi on January 7, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    What a joker, he's in another world. Look at Thilan, he was dropped saying too old to play but scored two centuries and had the best batting average. Resign now idiot before permanently ruining our cricket.

  • Sarath on January 7, 2012, 6:45 GMT

    He is a another joker,like his predecessors.

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