<
>

Coach Gunawardene critical of Sri Lanka A batsmen

Niroshan Dickwella was among several batsmen who failed to build on starts in the tri-series in England Getty Images

Sri Lanka A head coach Avishka Gunawardene lamented the lack of big scores from the batsmen, after the side lost all four games in the A-team tri-series involving Pakistan and hosts England Lions.

Sri Lanka A passed 255 only once on good batting surfaces, with Angelo Perera's 69 being their highest individual score in the tournament. In contrast, Lions piled up runs and misery on Sri Lanka A, including a total of 425 for 1, which was set up by Ben Duckett's unbeaten 220 not out, in the sixth match.

"The biggest disappointment for me was not England Lions scoring 300 or 400 against us but that none of our batsmen used the conditions to get a big hundred," Gunawardene said. "I thought that was the ideal opportunity for the batsmen. You don't get better tracks even in Sri Lanka. The ball came nicely onto the bat and there wasn't much movement, but our batsmen didn't make use of that opportunity."

Besides Angelo, Niroshan Dickwella and Bhanuka Rajapaksa got to fifties, but could not convert it into a big score. Gunawardene held temperament responsible for batsmen not building on starts. He also said the batsmen need to learn the art of pacing an innings from domestic cricket.

"They will get a 30, 40 or a 50 and throw it away. It's all to do with their mindset; nothing wrong with their talent," Gunawardene said. "Even the Pakistan A coach said that we had so much of talent but something was not right, which I also agree. The batsmen will have to start learning how to play long innings in domestic cricket. They should know how to build an innings, how to pace an innings, these are little things that our batsmen need to learn and develop and all of them comes from playing domestic cricket."

Gunawardene lauded Lions' dominant batting line-up, which dictated the series. Five of their batsmen registered 150-plus scores as Lions won all their four matches.

"That side is as good as their senior national team," Gunawardene said. "The wickets were very flat but the difference was their batters in every game made it big with each one of them getting big scores against us and Pakistan A."

Dickwella finished the series as Sri Lanka A's highest run-getter with 164 runs at 41, but Gunawardene termed Dhananjaya de Silva, who had to leave England and join the senior team for the home series against Australia, as the "most impressive".

"Roshen Silva looked the one guy who was ready to score the big one, very willing to spend a long time in the middle," Gunawardene said. "He looked very good and he had the knack for batting longer hours and making big scores but he got a call to return to Sri Lanka. Mahela Udawatte didn't score a lot of runs although he looked good. Niroshan Dickwella got starts but didn't convert them into big ones. The most impressive of them was Dhananjaya de Silva, the moment he joined the squad I thought he was really good. [Lakshan] Sandakan looked like one of those spinners who could turn the ball he has first-class experience and he needs to get to next level and play."

Gunawardene said the the absence of five players - Roshen Silva, Dhananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa and Asitha Fernando - all of whom were named in the Test squad - left the A team short on experience.

"I went to England with two spin-bowling allrounders for the three four-day matches and when it came to the one-day tri-series the only spinner in my team was Sandakan who was picked for the Sri Lankan Test side for good reasons," Gunawardene said. "I was left with only Sachith Pathirana and Ramith Rambukwella who are spin-bowling allrounders. I didn't have a specialist spinner in my line-up and I was left with only three fast bowlers and the squad had only 13 guys because several had been called to the national team and others to the Under-19 team that was to tour England."

Gunawardene, however, praised Asitha, who was Sri Lanka's leading wicket-taker in the Under-19 World Cup, and Vishwa for adding bite to the attack.

"They were very impressive in all the matches, they got the ball to move and the batsmen struggled against them," Gunawardene said. "Vishwa was quite quick and touched 140 kph. Asitha is just 19 and bowls 135-plus kph. I saw him in the Under-19 squad but he has to play more first-class matches and get the experience. The best thing about him is that whatever we say he has the capacity to grab, which I think is a good sign."

Thisara Perera was the biggest disappointment of the series, scoring 99 runs in three innings and taking one wicket in four matches while conceding 226 runs at 7.06 runs an over, despite having the experience of 168 international games.

"You have to get more out of someone who has played over 100 ODIs he should have done something at least stop batsmen from scoring whereas he went for 60 and 100 runs," Gunawardene said.

"Thisara is only 27 but for someone like him to be considered for the national side he has to perform exceptionally well. He can't be performing at the same level as the under 19 and the rest of the guys. He is so experienced; he has to come up with exceptional performances. You can't be just under-performing."