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October 7, 2007
Women's cricket in Sri Lanka is set to get a timely boost, 18 months ahead of the next Women's World Cup in Sydney with the visit of Richard Done, the ICC's high performance manager. Done, who was sent to Sri Lanka at the request of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), spent four days with the women's squad and board officials.
He left Sri Lanka with a structured program and if implemented properly, should see Sri Lanka challenging the top four nations at the World Cup.
"If this team follows a structured program there is enough talent there to challenge the top four," said Done, a former New South Wales fast bowler and coach at the Australian Cricket Academy before joining the ICC in 2004. "The advantage at the moment is that you've got a squad of 20 girls who have been identified and can work for 18 months. I see a lot of enthusiastic girls traveling from miles away to come here to train. We need to support that enthusiasm and show them they can be part of something bigger."
The top four teams in women's cricket according to Done are Australia, New Zealand, England and India. "To develop women's cricket here Sri Lanka Cricket should get involved more as an organisation," said Done. "They are not short of talent, but short of consistency and a bit of support."
Drawing an example from the top four nations, Done said: "The Australian women's team is highly regarded as part of the Australian team's culture to the extent that awards are presented to women. There's recognition that women are involved in the game at a higher level. It also involves branding of the team, recognition and media awareness."
Speaking on his role in Sri Lanka, Done said: "My role here was to work with Chitral Mendis, the women's team coach, Sudath [Pasqual] and Bandula [Warnapura] from Sri Lanka Cricket so that the women's national team is a little bit closer to the things that are happening with the men's game. It's about pushing that quality aspect.
"One of the things we wanted to do is match analysis and have a look at how they [the men] play the game. We've done a medical evaluation, a fitness test, videoed them and looked from the skill development point of view. The signs are all good at the moment."
Done, one time candidate for the coaching position with Pakistan and India, stated that there are plans by SLC to put a basic schools competition in place.
"If you are looking five years down the track, you need to encourage girls who play cricket in their schools. You've got to identify talent and admit them in clubs. No cricket nation goes forward without a good development program. That will be a good feeder for what happens in the future. Because of the numbers involved the opportunity at the moment is only to go for a club structure."
Done said the Sri Lankan women's team is hoping to go to India in January-February next year, which would give them a three-month window for training by spending three to four weeks on skill development, four weeks on combined net practices and another three to four weeks of match practice He hoped the team would play a couple of practice matches before departing for India.