Naveed Nawaz, the former Sri Lankan batsman, and consultant coach to the women's national cricket team, has come to the conclusion that if the women's game is to make any headway in Sri Lanka, it must be taught at the grass-roots level and not at the ages of 19 or 20 as is the case today.

Nawaz - who has now spent four months in his new role - was appointed prior to the Women's World Cup in Australia in March to iron out several glitches affecting women's cricket at the national level.

Nawaz, who represented Sri Lanka in a solitary Test against Bangladesh in 2002 and three ODIs, said the reason Sri Lanka's women cricketers are still far behind countries like India and England is due to their delayed introduction to the game.

"Our women start learning the game at the age of around 18 and 20 which is too late to make adjustments," Nawaz said. "They already have several things on their mind by then and it is not an age where you can drill the rudiments of the game into them."

Nawaz will end his term as consultant coach after the Women's World Twenty20, as he's been appointed coach of the Sri Lanka Under-19 team. A qualified Australian Level II coach, Nawaz has the distinction of coaching SSC to win a rare treble in 2007-08 when they won the Premier League, Premier Limited-Overs and the Under-23 competitions in one season - an achievement which he concedes was his finest as a coach. He had an 11-year first-class career as a top order batsman from 1993-94 with NCC and Bloomfield scoring 6892 runs at 36.27 with 12 centuries.

"Over the years before women's cricket came under the auspices of Sri Lanka Cricket, these girls have got used to a certain system of workload which is far from the required standard," he said. "They are not used to the tough and strenuous training that is required to play international cricket today the lack of which is shown by their performances at international level.

"They are keen to succeed but at that age there is not much you can do to an individual. They have set themselves very low standards and getting a 20 or a 30 is considered an achievement. These scores will not win us many matches."

Nawaz also pointed out that women cricketers were also rather slow in reacting and this was the cause of so many run outs in the World Cup.

"They are working hard and learning from their mistakes but it is a rather painfully slow progress," he said.