Former Sri Lankan all rounder Ruwan Kalpage returned home to bolster the preparation of the Sri Lankan national team for the upcoming World Cup in 2011 to be played in the subcontinent after a stint with the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) for 2 years. Kalpage shared his views related to many aspects of the game with srilankacricket.lk team.
Q: Tell us about your experience in Bangladesh.
BCB drafted me into their national Academy. I was totally in charge of the coaching at the academy. During the time I took over, BCB was under tremendous pressure as they were on a weak loosing streak at international level. The pressure was mounting as questions were raised regarding their eligibility for Test status. At that critical juncture the BCB decided to lay more emphasis with the academy and for it to generate quality Cricketers. My first objective was to instill a sense of competitiveness in them to take on more reputed opponents. It was very enjoyable and the youngsters responded very well. The Academy side managed to defeat South Africa and they had a good series against Sri Lanka A team as well in the unofficial Test series although they lost it 0-1.
Q: How do you place Sri Lanka as a fielding unit internationally?
Sri Lanka is the leading fielding team in Asia. I always tell the players to compare ourselves and improve to the level of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. That should be our ultimate objective. Apart from those countries we will be on par or better than other teams in the world.
Q: What areas are you looking at for improvement by the time for the World Cup in 2011?
We need to have 5 crack fielders within the 30 yard circle. That is very important to assist the bowlers to create the required pressure to win a World Cup. Currently we have Dilshan, Kapugedara, Chamara Silva, Suraj Randiv and Thisara Perera in the required standard to perform up to that level. But the tricky situation that I encounter is that those players will have to perform their primary duty in the team (batting/bowling) for them to secure their appearance in a match. With that in mind I have to keep working on other players to get them in to that level, including any of the youngsters coming in to the side.
Q: You mentioned some talented fielders names there. In the current era of competitive Cricket, do you believe that we can compare any of those talented individuals with the brilliance and class of someone like Jonty Rhodes from the yesteryear?
Tilekaratne Dilshan can certainly be compared with someone like Rhodes. His anticipation and agility can match up to anybody in world Cricket.
Q: You spoke about agility and anticipation of Dilshan. Something that we have noticed with some of our fielders inside the 30 yard circle is that although their anticipation, agility and approach speed to the ball is there sometimes the fielder looses control of the ball once he stops it. In other words although a stop is made, the ball might not end up in his hand for disposal. What is the reason behind it?
In countries like Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and even England players grow up and start their fielding drills in lush green outfields which are highly conducive for diving and stopping. They also play supportive sports like Rugby. So when players reach senior levels they do have a certain degree of confidence when a dive is taking place. In Asian countries we as youngsters rarely get lush outfields to dive and slide. If we did that there would be a lot of injuries. An Asian youngster will definitely have to wait till he reaches a certain standard to play in grounds where it is conducive for high performance fielding. So when they will only start working on those skills when they reach a mature age and the confidence of a dive or slide will not be as good as an Australian or a South African. However, I must tell you that the outfields in our country even lower graded ones are superior to the outfields you get in other Asian countries.
Q: What are your fielding performance objectives for your team when they compete in the 2011 World Cup?
My goal is to trigger at least 2 dismissals from the opposition’s top order with the aid of fielding brilliance. With all the preparation the team is going through I’m confident that this goal is attainable.
Interviewed by Vajira Dassanayake