Sri Lanka news January 31, 2014

Exciting time to work with Sri Lanka - Farbrace


Only four players remain from the Test XI Paul Farbrace oversaw in his last series as assistant coach with Sri Lanka. In August 2009, Muttiah Muralitharan still led the attack, Rangana Herath was still making his comeback into international cricket, and Thilan Thushara was the brightest pace-bowling hope.

Four-and-a-half years and four captains later, the makings of a competitive pace battery is emerging, the top order is hinting at regeneration and the team has moved beyond Murali's shadow. It is an exciting time to come aboard, Farbrace said, as he settles into the task of completing Sri Lanka's transition successfully.

"It's really encouraging to see new players coming through," he said. "Suranga Lakmal was starting to get involved when I was here last time. I'm really pleased to see how he has developed. Shaminda Eranga is fantastic - he really does look a quality bowler. Nuwan Pradeep was someone who was around when I was here and he was working hard on his game then. To see those three guys, with Vishwa Fernando as well, you've got some very talented youngish fast bowlers. Not a lot of experience in terms of international cricket, but it's quite exciting to see there's some pace bowling coming through.

"From a batting point of view, Kithuruwan Vithanage played very well for his hundred in Dhaka - I really like the look of him. Kaushal Silva was someone who was scoring lots and lots of first-class runs. He was playing for the A team last time he was here. I worked with him on his keeping, so I know him pretty well. It's really nice to see the likes of him getting the opportunity to play the longer form, just on the back of his performance and hard work. Everyone was delighted when he got his hundred. Dimuth Karunaratne looks a good player. He's played nicely and is due a good score pretty soon, because he does the hard work and gets in. Right the way through, there's a lot of talent."

Farbrace joins the team with several major challenges looming. Beyond the ongoing series, two major limited-overs tournaments are on the horizon, in Bangladesh, before a full tour of England. Sri Lanka's Twenty20 form has been satisfying, but their ODI returns have been less convincing. Their last series was a 3-2 loss against Pakistan.

"Our first big thing is obviously the Asia Cup - we want to compete and do well in that. Next is the World Twenty20, which is a format in which Sri Lanka are the No. 1 team in the world, and that's because they've earned the right to be the top team in 20-overs cricket. We are going into that competition full of confidence. We've got four games at Chittagong, and Chittagong conditions will hopefully be advantageous for us. After this series our focus will be on those tournaments with a continual eye towards the World Cup in 2015.

"The one-day games in England will also give us an idea of how and where we need to keep working for World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, because conditions will be quite similar. The key thing is we've got to find our best 15 players. We've got to know what combinations are going to work for us."

Farbrace's contract began on January 1, and as former coach Graham Ford did not relinquish the senior team to him until the tour of Pakistan ended on January 20, Farbrace had been working with coaches in Sri Lanka to reacclimatise himself with the system. He was complimentary about the coaching structure in place, as well as of assistant coach Marvan Atapattu, bowling coach Chaminda Vaas and fielding coach Ruwan Kalpage.

"Marvan, Vaasy and Ruwan are all experienced people who have a lot of cricket knowledge and they've been great players for Sri Lanka. That's a big advantage for me, to tap into their knowledge and their skills. We've spent a lot of the last week talking about players and the way we're moving forward."

"The great thing about Vaasy is that Vaasy played a lot of Test matches. The fast bowlers get to travel with Vaasy, spend time Vaasy, pick his brains and talk about the game. Vaasy is not going to be making technical changes during a Test match, but he's able to talk them through the passage of play in games. How a game develops, how you bowl at different phases in the game, and how you bowl at different batsmen. It's fantastic that they can get that out of Vaasy, and he's very giving of his knowledge."

Farbrace said his familiarity with the Sri Lanka system and players, and his relationship with Ford has eased his arrival in the dressing room. "The thing that has made it slightly easier is my relationship with Fordie. We worked together for five years at Kent, so all the time that he has been here, we've communicated. I've been up to speed with where he's at.

"I'm quite lucky that I've had three years [with the team] before. I know some of the players. I know the coaches, and I know how things work. It's a reasonably easier way to come into it. I've not been surprised by anything because I followed the team's fortunes quite closely and a lot of the individuals. Having been here with them, you build a close affinity."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lalith on February 1, 2014, 20:12 GMT

    This test is not the acid test. This is BD. If SL can beat a test series in Eng, SA, NZ, and Aus then we can say SL has improved a lot. Anyway being Optimistic is good and especially new young fast bowlers are very impressive. Goo luck to SL in Eng.

  • Rajith on February 1, 2014, 2:47 GMT

    If someone can bring murali in the coaching staff that would do world of good to SL cricket with worlds best bowlers coaching SL young bowlers. Get rid of players who put private leagues before country even though how good their records on the book. SL can surely make it to the Semis in 2015 WC. And if we do our home work we can easily enter final. After all We Srilankans are the kings of WC finals having reach final in every WC since 2007. Only worry is the winning the final step. Good Luck lions

  • shuhail on January 31, 2014, 20:19 GMT

    Bright future ahead.. I cant wait fr the england tour to begin.. never seen lankan pace battery operating in full steam... wit young batsman and bowlers proving their talent.. paul seems to be very friendly after all we srilankans r always friendly.. wit the support of vass who has already proved his mettle by trasforming our fast bowling stocks and marvens expertise.. we r gonna roar..

  • Ranil on January 31, 2014, 16:57 GMT

    With Paul's long standing relationship in the county games & conditions,I think his main aim should be to bring a Test series win for Sri Lanka in England specially now that Eng are in a bit of disarray.

  • vivian on January 31, 2014, 16:27 GMT

    Some credit should go to Master Blaster Sanath Jayasuriya. He is one of the key figures bringing this coach to Sri Lankan team. One thing I have to mention here the Sri Lankan people, Cricketers are not hard to handle. Sri Lankans are people always humble and respect teachers,elders etc. I haven't seen much issues we had with foreign coaches. I think this is the right setup. Foreign coach as head and the supoort coaches for batting & bowling. Sri Lanka is always breeding ground for new foreign coaches. Kudos to Sanath he is bringing some sense to SLC.

  • Sriram on January 31, 2014, 15:07 GMT

    on that Vassy note. SL are fortunate, so are Aus with McDermott, NZ with Shane Bond, SA with Alan Donald and Pak doesn't even need one although they had Waqar. The pity is with other teams like Windies and India who are not able to bring such legends into thier fold. India never had a champion bolwer since Kapil Dev and the only other capable could be Srinath who has said no to coaching. But what about windies? Astonishing.

    With Vass, Marvan all legends in SL cricket they have a good set up.

  • Jerry on January 31, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    Congrats and best wishes to Paul as coach. I believe our best coach to date was Tom Moody. he understood the players and knew their strengths . Paul is familiar with the SL team and this could be beneficial. The one thing SL players must learn is to adopt quickly to foreign conditions , especially when we play in Australia, SA , UK or NZ . Learning how to play short pitched bowling and hostile bowling in the opposition backyard . Must also teach them how to be ruthless when the situation arises and push for a win. Sometimes we Asian teams tend to settle for a draw , when we should be pressing for a victory. Good luck in your new assignment and if you have a say in team selection , play only the players in form and do not give anyone a free ride. Team spirit must be fostered as you can only win as a team and not based on a few individual performances . SL must come back strong and the younger players like Silva, dilruwan , and vithanage should be encouraged to shine.

  • Nilantha on January 31, 2014, 14:07 GMT

    I was sad to see Farbace leavethe mighty Yorkshire( my county here in England) but then so glad to see he has come back to SL. Hopefully he will move us forward from where we are now. Good luck for the future.

  • C on January 31, 2014, 14:02 GMT

    He seems to have the right attitude and approach. Let's hope that SL cricketing politics does not interfere with his coaching.

  • Android on January 31, 2014, 13:51 GMT

    Welcome Farbrace.. hope you will take us to no 1 in tests as well as ODI's... Good luck

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