The national cricket team’s batting coach Thilan Samaraweera has suggested that it would be a good idea to obtain the services of a psychiatrist to talk to the players to get their mindset right.
The Sri Lanka team cricketers are at the moment very much short of self-confidence having suffered their worst thrashing in Test history when India beat them by an innings and 239 runs to win the second Test played at Nagpur on Monday and go one-up in the three-match Test series.
“Consulting a psychiatrist would be a good idea but in Sri Lankan culture we don’t believe in that so much. We need to understand the players and go through their routine, that’s the key. Every good player has a different routine each ball has a different routine. If you go through with a psychiatrist or someone they will give answers to that,” said Samaraweera after Sri Lanka’s sorry spectacle of batting in the second innings here where they were dismissed for 166 in their second innings.
“It’s more to do with temperament and application. Even today (Monday) how many soft dismissals? I don’t think there is a work ethic problem but more mindset and application and temperament. In Test cricket if you get 30-40 minutes tough situations you have to battle them out after that it is very easy to score runs,” said Samaraweera who undertook his present two-year position only recently from the current series.
“A big example is (Dinesh) Chandimal and (Suranga) Lakmal they put on 58 runs for the ninth wicket. There were no demons on the pitch, when one ball behaves badly the mindset of the batsman puts him more under pressure. They do not trust their own ability, that’s the biggest thing,” he said.
Samaraweera is renowned to play the type of innings when his team has been in dire straits during his 81-Test career during which he accumulated 5462 runs at an average of nearly 49 with 14 centuries making him the seventh highest run-getter for his country.
MY OWN EXPERIENCE
Recalling on how he came to terms with tough situations during his career Samaraweera said, “The important thing is you have to analyse them and come up with plans and find solutions. If you go through the next two years playing like this you will remain the same, you have to change.
“I am not here to give them any sweet talk to the players they have to understand, improve and come up with different challenges. That’s what happened to me in 2005, when I went through a bad patch I met Chandika (Hathurusingha) and he changed a few things. Then my mindset got better and better. Another thing is you can’t say that ‘this is my natural game’ if it is so then every other innings you should be scoring 70-80 runs. You have to play to the situation and you have to play to the team,” Samaraweera stated. As batting coach Samaraweera said that the biggest challenge for him in the next few months is to give the batsmen options of scoring opportunities so that their mindset will be settled.
“When they don’t have scoring shots, under pressure they try to do different things. Whoever comes as head coach will have to sit down and talk with them. I was so embarassed of what happened today (Monday) because there was no brilliant bowling by India, they simply built pressure and we batted poorly in both innings.”
Samaraweera said that he has no answers at the moment as to why our batsmen were faring so badly in the middle.
“I’ll have to discuss with the players more, then I might have an answer to that. This is the fourth second innings we have failed like this – 107 for 8 and then suddenly we put up a 58-run partnership. The biggest thing is when challenges come from the other end you have to stand up to them and wait for 30-40 minutes and weather it, after that it is very easy to score runs. Our batsmen are capable of doing it but I don’t know somehow when the pressure comes they take bad options.”
The manner in which Lahiru Thirimanne got out in both innings for 9 and 23 at Nagpur – getting bowled while attempting to sweep a ball from outside off stump and then slicing a wide delivery to backward point, Samaraweera said that it is time for him to start scoring runs.
“He is 28 and he has played 29 Tests I think it’s more mental. He gets through the first 30 balls and suddenly he plays a bad shot. The answer to that should come from him,” said Samaraweera.
Another batsman who is struggling is former captain Angelo Mathews whose form has dipped in the past two years that the last Test century he made for his country seems like many moons ago in August 2015 against India at the SSC.
“I spoke to him half an hour before the Test series and he knew he was a bit under pressure because in the last two years he has been averaging in the 20s. He is a far better player than that. I want to bring back his freedom. At the moment he is very much under pressure. One big innings will change things for him,” said Samaraweera.
Mathews made 10 and 10 in each innings falling to the left-arm spin of Ravindra Jadeja on both occasions.
On the brighter side Samaraweera said the only positive to come out of the second Test was the batting of Chandimal who made twin fifties.
“Chandimal’s approach in both innings he batted really well and he also led the side well. I was a bit disappointed the way he got out in the first innings. I spoke to him about his dismissal he should have batted till number 11 got out. That’s the biggest plus point for us from this Test.”
Samaraweera was also excited about the batting talent of 22-year-old Sadeera Samarawickrama of whom he expects a lot in the future.
Following his second innings dismissal where he totally misjudged a delivery from Ishant Sharma to shoulder arms and see his off stump being disturbed, Samaraweera said, “I had a chat with him and spoke to him about what happened to Marvan (Atapattu) where he scored five ducks in a row and ended up with a Test average of 40 and six double hundreds. I told him this is not the end of the world, there are a few things to work on and I think he will do well in the future.
“He seemed shattered when he was dismissed in the second innings. He is a very emotional youngster. I told him it has happened to us also when we were young and that’s how international sport goes. Hopefully he will be alright.”