There is no doubt that in Sri Lanka, cricket is the most popular sport. Also, many people are very keen to see our National team doing well. But right now, no one can be satisfied with the performance of our National team. The Sri Lanka national team now loses matches even in their own den. Our Under-19 team fared very badly in the Mini World Cup Tournament. That competition too was held in Sri Lanka. If our National team and Under-19 side are not up to the mark, what can we expect? Presently our National team is in a very pathetic situation and our future is very gloomy. If remedial measures are not taken our cricket standards will go from bad to worse.
Some pundits say that there are no young talented players today. This is a myth. There is plenty of talent and potential in our country. Our so called Cricket Board officials and selectors do not know to unearth young blood to represent Sri Lanka. When a young cricketer is selected to the National side, he should be exposed and given enough time to prove his worth. If you discard him after about one or two matches or play him by fits and stars, that young lad has no chance to become a good player. In the past many young cricketers were not given a fair chance to prove their abilities. Our selectors have wasted many of our young talented players. Then, later to say that there is no talent, is bulldust. Prasanne Jayawardena played his 1st Test match in Kandy. After the 1st days play the match could not continue due to rain. Prasanna Jayawardena neither batted nor kept wickets in this match. But for the next Test match he was dropped. Michael Vandort was not given a chance to prove his worth. Ian Daniels is still in the wilderness. The problem is, our selectors do not know to expose young blood and groom them to be classy players. If the Sri Lanka team is in dire straits, the full responsibility should go to the past and present selections committees. I feel that they do not love the country or they are not interested to put Sri Lanka on the world cricket map. If they are not competent to deliver the goods, they should resign immediately and hand over that job to others who can do better.
There is a school of thought that present school cricket standards have declined. It maybe true to a certain extent. But we must find the reaon or reasons for it. From the late 70s to the late 80s, for Under 13, 15 and 17 boys, we had limited overs tournaments. There was enthusiasm and we were able to produce very talented cricketers. Our 1996 World Cup champion team played in these tournaments. Although it was limited overs cricket, we were able to find out real talented players and groom them. When batting, players were taught to bat the full fifty overs and send every loose ball to the boundary. No coach asked them to throw their wickets because it was limited overs cricket. When bowling, players were asked to take wickets. There was no negative bowling. This way, each school was able to harness some very good players and groom them to be excellent players. Now what happens? Sometimes, one team bats the whole day and the other team often does not get a chance to bat. Then the fielding side gets discouraged. When boys are young, matches should be result oriented. That will make them interested in the game. We should know the minds of young people before we organize a tournament. Now the trouble is cricket board officials try to dictate terms to the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association. On their request, the SLSCA scraped all the limited overs tournaments at junior level and what has happened today? Our junior cricketers cannot beat Bangladesh, even in Sri Lanka. Our 1st XI cricketers are playing their normal two day games. That is very good for big boys. Let the Under 13, 15 and 17 boys play result oriented limited overs cricket and enjoy the game. That will help us discover talented young blood. I request the cricket board and other pundits not to interfere with the SLSCA.
Everyone knows what happened when Chaminda Vaas was appointed vice captain. Some senior players reacted against that. They made life very miserable for Vaas and he requested the selectors to release him from the vice captaincy. If senior players are behaving like this, they should be brought to book.
Chaminda Vaas is one of the best players in the team and be should have been appointed captain before Marvan Atapattu. This type of spirit will not take our cricket anywhere.
If we do not address the real problems, our cricket will have no future and very soon we will be last in the world ratings. Hope those in power will open their eyes and do something.