When Graham Ford was smoked out as Head Coach, we warned SLC that the board was changing pillows to headaches. Instead of letting Ford coach and Sanath Jayasuriya select teams, Sri Lanka Cricket bigwigs were interfering directly with the team’s affairs and no doubt Sri Lankan cricket is heading for disaster.
Now that 11th ranked Zimbabwe has beaten them, we wonder what excuse is in store. SLC can blame the players, the coaches and past administrations, but should remember that when they point a finger at someone, there are three more pointing back at them.
Without a doubt 2017 will go down in history as Sri Lankan cricket’s worst year. Critics were more accommodating when the team lost 3-0 in Tests and 5-0 in ODIs to South Africa. Suffering a first ever Test defeat at home at the hands of Bangladesh was hard to grasp, but losing this series to Zimbabwe is simply unpardonable. When the Bangladesh debacle happened, some former players brushed aside the defeat tweeting that Bangladesh have improved so much. True enough, but the other side of the coin is that Sri Lankan cricket has steadily declined in the last five years.
When selections were done for this series, Sri Lanka failed to put out their best 15 players. Dinesh Chandimal has been their best batsman in the last two years while Suranga Lakmal has been the most impressive fast bowler in the last 12 months. Both were kept out of the series along with off-spinner Dilruwan Perera for strange reasons. Lakmal was later brought back into the squad, but fell ill.
Last month SLC recommended to the Sports Ministry that the term of the selection panel needs to be extended. The selectors returned the favour by picking players who came from the respective clubs of some of these SLC officials. Needles to say that the selectors thought Zimbabwe will be a cake walk, but they were proved wrong. Now that the series has been lost, Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara can haul up Jayasuriya and say, ‘Disce aut Discede’! Mind the pronunciation please.
There has been much attention given to fielding no doubt in the last six months, but sadly this has been a discipline that has been neglected for half a decade now and there’s not going to be overnight improvement in fielding. Sadly fielding made the difference between these sides in the series.
The greatest service that Thilanga Sumathipala can do to Sri Lankan cricket is to ban national cricketers playing football during training and instead dedicate that time to fine tuning fielding skills. So many administrators have rectified many wrongs of Sri Lankan cricket but none have been able to stop the players from playing football.
Sri Lanka managed to make only 203 for eight yesterday as the tourists caught them off guard by giving the new ball to a spinner. Sri Lanka’s predicament looked much worse when they slumped to 153 for eight, but a 50 run stand off 53 balls between Asela Gunaratne and Dushmantha Chameera rescued them. Gunaratne top scored with 59. Extras was the third highest scorer with 27.
The openers gave the tourists a solid start adding 92 runs off 86 deliveries with Hamilton Masakadza top scoring with 73 runs. From 137 for one, Zimbabwe made a mess of the chase slumping to 175 for seven, but captain Graeme Cremer hanged around with Sikandar Raza to ensure a famous series win was sealed with plenty of deliveries to spare.
Raza sealed the series in style by depositing Wanidu Hasaranga for a six.