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'Dressing room a happy place' - Atapattu

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

June 29, 2014

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Marvan Atapattu watches over a Sri Lanka training session, Old Trafford, May 27, 2014
'The fighting spirit, the belief and togetherness we had in the dressing room is what made this team different to previous sides' - Marvan Atapattu © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Marvan Atapattu
Teams: Sri Lanka

Interim head coach Marvan Atapattu has stated that the 1-0 Test series win in England was a step towards getting Sri Lanka to win more Test matches and improve their results in all forms of the game.

"Winning Test matches is the thing for me," said Atapattu. "I believe if we can play good Test cricket, falling into playing well, which we are doing already, playing the other two formats becomes easier.

"Adjusting is easier, you have so much confidence in you, you have performed well in the longer game which shows your character, patience, confidence and everything that has to comes out for you to be a successful Test cricketer. If you can hold your skills, temperament and concentration for a long period of time I can't see why you can't in a short period of time do well in a 120-ball game or a 300-ball game. Winning Test matches is so important for us to grow as a team as individuals and going forward as a cricket-playing nation."

Atapattu praised the players and coaching staff for the series win in England, particularly the spirit within the dressing room.

"The fighting spirit, the belief and togetherness we had in the dressing room is what made this team different to previous sides," Atapattu told The Nation. "It was coming from the time we played the two T20Is against Bangladesh in Bangladesh where we had the result in the last ball of the match. The belief that was inculcated amongst us in the dressing room was huge and we believed that any one of us could finish a game taking it down to the wire. That belief was there and it kept on improving in the T20 World Cup when we had to win against New Zealand and Rangana (Herath) came and bowled so well to pull us out.

"The dressing room is one happy place where everyone was honest with their opinions and was allowed to talk freely. Everybody's information was valued."

Atapattu listed a number of other factors that had contributed to the win over England, highlighting the discipline shown by the bowlers. "We have improved in our skills no doubt going to England in the early part of summer and facing the conditions and the pitches. The players put in a lot of work to adapt and adjust accordingly. For them to have performed so well it's not only the batsmen but bowlers too. If you see the pitch maps and compare them with the first Test and the second there is a huge improvement in our bowling department especially the seamers, bowling that channel and that corridor.

"The groupings would show that we are almost there and thereabouts asking questions from the batsmen. That was a major difference between the two sides. They bowled short at us which was obvious tactics where we got ourselves prepared very well. Then we bowled that channel getting the ball to do a lot of the work. It's about the bowlers believing the belief would work for us and having the patience."

This kind of commitment, Atapattu said, had been there in the past as well, but at a different level.

"We can't forget the fact that a player like (Muttiah) Muralitharan would obviously run through the opposition. Whenever Murali plays no disregard but the bowlers who bowled alongside him obviously knew that they had to play a supporting role for Murali to take wickets. That is a bit different now.

"Yes Rangana does take a majority of the wickets now in Test cricket but when we tour abroad the others have to play a part too to take 20 wickets to win Test matches. Everybody has to chip in and play their part and sometimes even Rangana as he did in the first innings had to play the supporting role."

Atapattu said the inexperienced players had made a smooth transition into the Test team, and hailed the coaches at the club level and within the SLC for making that possible.

"We have got players who have played over 140 Tests in our side and those who have played less than 10 Tests. That goes to show that it's not only the coaching at the top has done well for guys who have been there for over 140 matches but guys just coming in from clubs and walking into the side with a handful of matches have gone through good quality coaching not [just] skillfully but mentally too in their preparations with the coaches we have at Khettarama and the club coaches.

"It's a good structure for them to come from in such a short period of time and to perform at the highest level especially abroad winning Test matches from players who have never been with us for years."

With a home series against South Africa just around the corner, Atapattu has another chance to cement his place as Sri Lanka's head coach. SLC had appointed him and his assistant Ruwan Kalpage as interim coaches for the England and South Africa series. Atapattu said the team would take confidence from their win over England into their new challenge, but guarded against complacency.

"It's confidence but on the other hand we should be mature enough to understand that it is a totally different ball game playing in Sri Lanka in our types of wickets. We have to start all over again from scratch and build ourselves into a winning position," said Atapattu.

"The England win is gone. It's only confidence and the belief that we get from winning the series. It's a fresh start for us when you are playing at home. As a player you are a bit more under pressure playing at home. Public expectations are high and that is something you've got to live with when you are in the public eye.

"Winning in England has brought on more pressure but it's a good feeling. When you are playing Test match cricket you've got time and over 450 overs to show what you are made of than something like T20 cricket where more luck is involved."

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Posted by KingPower on (June 30, 2014, 15:36 GMT)

When will Sri Lanka Cricket realize that Sri Lankan Coaches are not necessarily second (class) to those of European extraction? Let's make Marvan the Permanent Coach. He has produced Fantastic results for SLC in recent times!

Posted by Cannuck on (June 30, 2014, 14:26 GMT)

When Fabrace quit most of you posting here said the team's success in BD tour & T20WC was NOT due to him. It was said that we won because the team was set & things were in place before Fabrace took over. So how come we do not say the same about the coach when we win? Should Marvan get the praise for things that were in place before he was handed a temporary position? I like Marvan, but we should be fair in our comments when we win or lose. Just an observation on my part, & nothing against Marvan. To me the find of this tour was Angie, the long term leader for the team. He really came off age, with the bat, ball & captaincy. Now we need a second in command who can support him, like Arjuna/Ara or Mahela/Sanga combo. Then we have enough talent to build around him, if selectors do not screw up due to political pressure. Things are always happy not only in the dressing room, but on comments section among fans. It goes nuts when we lose!! That's life as we all know!

Posted by CricketChat on (June 30, 2014, 13:01 GMT)

Dressing room will always be a happy place if the team is winning. SL have several challenges to deal with in the aftermath of their historic win in Eng. In no perticular order, they need to address 1) full time head coach that last 4-5 years 2) adequate replacements for the 2 greats, Sanga and Mahela 3) Pace attack 4) stable opening batsmen.

Posted by rizwan1981 on (June 30, 2014, 12:19 GMT)

Please bring back THARANGA to partner SILVA - Also why has BHANUKA RAJAPAKSHA not been given the same opportunities as his former Royal College team mates Kusal Perera and Vithanage ?

Posted by Kavum on (June 30, 2014, 7:59 GMT)

@ Priyantha Gunaratna: You don't get the flow, bro. The point is that we have a benchmark - the SL side in the mid to late 1990s. We do not need one to one replacements, agreed. But all those names of ex-players I mentioned were identified match winners from when they were 15-year olds. Now politicians, parents, old boys' associations and others are all into the promotional game to push a young cricketer to make a name, gain cheap publicity and harvest a financial windfall. All these machinations distract young impressionable minds from the honour of eventually representing the country at test level. Technique and honing of skill are sacrificed at the altar of short-term success. If Marvan deals with that (understanding the modern culture) I will respect him more than I do for making a comeback after his horror debut in tests. Also this obsession with the ICC WC 2015 which SL cannot win is incomprehensible. MJ, TMD, LM and KS retiring sans replacements is more of a worry.

Posted by Lion_Wallaby on (June 30, 2014, 5:28 GMT)

@ac_Indian; I think some one like Sanjay Manjurikar/ Ajay Jadeja will be really handy for the Indian team selection panel.

Posted by   on (June 30, 2014, 5:20 GMT)

you have taken right measures marvi as always. today we can see how technically most players should. specially dimuth n kaushal in first few overs . i do say that was a key in both matches to performace of others Lahiru had a hard time in england but should play against south africa in sri lanka while chandi is the wk in tests . also in bowling suranga lakmal should come in . may be place of nuwan pradeep while dilruwan perera is in place too.

btw guys this is the best performance by team in abroad with out big heads .a clear indication that , with a strong coach you can do many marvi is the technically most should guy lanka ever produced n for sure from him team can learn a lot. way to go guys life it up .2015 wc would be the ultimate

Posted by   on (June 30, 2014, 4:02 GMT)

@parvinder7 - Mate why did India bat second in e 50 over final. Reality is that India is the third best in Asia behind Pakistan. They lost to England at home n now they are touring England for five test matches. SL are not scared to play tests mate. India is scared to play t20 be cause they don't deserve to be no 1. India is 1 due to a mathematical calculation. SL will continue to be no 1 in Asia mate don't worry about it

Posted by DnJsh on (June 30, 2014, 1:35 GMT)

@parvinder7 - You seem really infuriated by all of this. Atapattu clearly stated that the Sri Lankan team is not perfect and has plenty to keep improving on.

As for having only two tests against top teams, I doubt it's being done on purpose, more due to scheduling issues. I was pretty obvious that England considers India more important to play than Sri Lanka. And I believe the ICC's future programme has Sri Lanka scheduled for a large test series against the Aussies in 2017... (sorry, for some reason I can't find that article where the FTP was published)

Posted by   on (June 30, 2014, 0:20 GMT)

SL been on the rise since last December. Every one can see there confidence is high too. Team unity has brings all this success. Parvinder you probably dont know how to rate according to your comment. You cant question a team ability by their decision made by the toss. Sri lanka decision to ball first was to bring India out of there comfort zone. Not only that Sri lanka was playing out of there comfort zone as well. because if you see all tournament Sri lanka was batting first and defending their total. How ever they made that surprising decision at the final and execute their plan well. That was the experience that they had from previous world cup.

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