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Feature

A Sri Lanka campaign that could have been an email

If you're a Sri Lanka fan, there isn't much to cheer about in this World Cup. And the root problems do not lie with the coaching staff or the on-field leadership

Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka's cricket consultant, holds court, Lauderhill, May 26, 2024

After two successive defeats, Sri Lanka are on the verge of being knocked out of the T20 World Cup  •  ICC/Getty Images

To the people in charge of Sri Lankan cricket,
We hope this email finds you in a well.
We are writing this after observing another embarrassing start to a World Cup campaign. We regret to take this tone, but honestly, this has gone on long enough, and something needs to be said.
Over the past week, we have stayed up late into the night, and woken up early in the morning, to watch the men's team play in the ongoing T20 World Cup.
While we were excited about the state of the bowling resources in this squad (our fast-bowling battery has never been faster), we were always worried about the lack of dynamism in the batting, which never seemed up to modern T20I standards. As if to prove our point, Sri Lanka collapsed to 77 against South Africa, then 124 for 9 against Bangladesh. Unless there are some serious upsets in Group D, Sri Lanka are out of the T20 World Cup for exactly the reasons expected.
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this World Cup campaign could have just been an email.
We also take no pleasure in noting that it is now exactly ten years since Sri Lanka last won a global cricket tournament, a victory we remember celebrating in truly euphoric fashion, by the way. In the seven years leading up to that 2014 T20 win, Sri Lanka had been in major finals four times, and were more or less a fixture in the semi-finals.
Since 2014, however, Sri Lanka have not made a semi-final once. There have been many captains of the Sri Lankan team (too many to count), and almost as many coaches. We have observed a pattern, where after every World Cup failure, coaches and captains are blamed, only to be replaced by the next set of scapegoats coaches and captains.
As we have observed this pattern over ten years now, it is becoming clear that the root problems do not lie with the coaching staff or the on-field leadership. Dare we ask how long the decision makers, at the board and CEO level, have been in their jobs?
In the past year, the board president has frequently been in the news, and was engaged in a war of words with the former sports minister. The only tangible outcome for us, and for Sri Lankan cricket in general, is that the Under-19 Men's World Cup, which was supposed to be played in Sri Lanka in January, was moved to South Africa.
We will still wake up to watch the matches, of course. If the last ten years have proved anything, it is that Sri Lankan fans' love for the game is basically unconditional. The moment there is a good spell, or a great innings, or a fun win, we tend to yank our knockoff jerseys out of the closet, and turn up, faces painted, throats full of song. It doesn't matter if it's only an Associate team that Sri Lanka is beating. What matters is the chance to dance in the stands to papare.
Perhaps the greatest thing about being a Sri Lanka cricket fan is what we often say: nava gilunath band choon - even if the ship sinks the party still bangs.
But it feels the ships SLC sends out to World Cups get worse and worse. And that they are not worthy of the parties we keep throwing at them.
Best regards,
Sri Lanka fans
*This is not trying to represent the views of all Sri Lanka fans. But maybe some of them.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo. @afidelf