Signs of Progress – Russel Arnold

By Russel Arnold

After such a long and tough tour of India the prospect of playing India again might not have been very appetising for the boys as the New Year dawned, but to their great credit a young team showed huge character in Bangladesh and rose to the challenge brilliantly. Most importantly, Sri Lanka’s rebuilding process showed real signs of progress.

As Sanga rightly said afterwards, one win does not make the year, but it was definitely a very positive start to 2010 for the ODI team. The performances of the some of the younger brigade were really encouraging as we all look forward to the all-important 2011 World cup that is looming fast on the horizon.

Critics may point out that the tournament was undermined by the dew making life so difficult for the side fielding second. It is true that Sanga winning every single toss was a huge bonus, no doubt. But no one can claim that the result in the final was dew-affected. Sri Lanka won fair and square with a fine performance from their bowlers.

For me, Thissera Perera and Suraj Randiv were the silver linings. Thissera grabbed the opportunity provided by Angelo’s absence, showing plenty of flair and guts for someone so inexperienced. Suraj, meanwhile, showed amazing consistency. He gives it a tweak and his short bowling stride also helps him get bounce.

It is not by chance that we have seen so many youngsters walking into the national team and bringing smiles on so many faces. Lots of credit must go to the coaches of the various SLC training, academy and development squads there today. The level of skill and confidence has been outstanding and the availability of good guidance as well as access to good training facilities has been key.

Although not originally a fan of the many training squads around, with hindsight I do agree that the ploy has proved positive. To up the standard further it is now very important we have a strong competitive domestic structure in place. I am looking forward to the forthcoming Provincial Tournament and hope it will be taken serious by all the players.

I also agree that the decision to extend SLC playing contracts to a wider pool of cricketers has also paid off. Cricketers need to earn a living just like anyone else in the world. By giving greater security the cricket board has helped players focus on their training and improving their skill levels. While not all contracted players will end up in the national team, the rising skill levels help raise the quality of domestic cricket and therefore indirectly uplift the standard of Sri Lanka’s cricket.

Looking forward to the 2011 World Cup, I feel it is important that some of the senior players missing in Bangladesh are back in the team and firing on all cylinders. I hope a rest for Murali will help get him back into top shape while Lasith (Malinga) and Ajantha (Mendis) have plenty to work on in the coming weeks and months. If Lasith and Ajantha can return to their best – and I strongly believe they can with hard work and self belief – then it will give the team some x-factor.

In the batting department, I was glad to see Chamara Silva back in the fray and it was really disappointing to see him return home early. He is a quality middle order player, especially in the subcontinent where his prowess against spin is so valuable. He is also a natural in the field. He has the flair and the experience to make a difference in big tournaments.

Although (Thilina) Kandamby did not have a great tournament, he also has my backing to be in the thick of things. He has many similarities to Arjuna, especially a cool head and the ability to finish off games. I think the burden of expectation might have worn him down a little, as it does many, but he’ll bounce back.

Great, too, to see Mahela (Jayawardene) scoring runs at crucial times. There is no doubt in my mind that he has a crucial role to play going forward. The question is where is it best for him to bat with this current team. He’ll hate me for saying this, but I feel he should move down the order a bit so he can use all his experience and expertise to get us over the line when it matters.

In terms of the all rounders, I’d like to see Farveez Maharoof back to full fitness. The rise of Angelo and Thissera has created healthy competition and the pressure on each to perform will be healthy. If Maharoof is bowling really well then he could even bat an No 8 and add great depth to our batting, as well as flexibility in terms of best utilising the Powerplays.

The Asia Cup is next for the ODI team and we can be confident that we will have an almost full strength squad to pick from, which will be a great test and also an opportunity to wrestle back that tag of being difficult to beat at home which we have surrendered of late.


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=695015245 Ralph Gnanapragasam

    Hi Russell,

    Did you live down Windsor Ave. back in the early 1980? If you did I used to play cricket with you, Trevor, Bevan, Edgar, Emil and the other guys living down the street. I used to live down the street from you at #33.

    Regards,
    PRSG

  • Bellana

    It’s a good one from ARNOLD.

  • http://www.synovaindia.com Faiz Ahmed(INDIA)

    Hi…we represent a corporate cricket team in india and are looking forward to play T20 in sri lanka.Any1 who can guide us how to go about it.
    mail me at fahmed@synovaindia.com

    • SLC Moderator

      This will be forwarded to the Cricket Operations Department of SLC.

  • Athula

    Our future is very bright . We have very talented young cricketers . Keep your eyes on Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal . Both of them are in great form with the bat . It is very sad to see Thirimanne was given only 01 match to open in Bangladesh . He should have opened the 2 nd match as well . Please don’t distroy the future of our young cricketers . They will be our future stars along with Anelo Mathiews , Suraj Randiv , Suranga lakmal , Chanaka Welagedara & Tisara Perera .

  • indika

    It’s a good evaluation of Sri lanka cricket today. I also have same opinions; so keep commenting on cricket for the shake of future.

  • Kumara-ksa

    Wht are you doing premasiri? he is every time nagitive comments ?

  • Premasiri

    Arnorld! Please don’t cater for your fellow members of the Cricket Players Association.There are nothing special in both Chamara Silva & Khandhambi. They should be immediately removed from all National teams, altogether with Mubarak & Kapugedara. Though they have been representing the country at National level (Youth, 2nd XI & 1st XI) ever since they were teenagers, they are yet to prove their selections. We need batsmen of Arvinda’s, Hashan’s, Thilan’s, Dilshan’s class, who had been brilliant school boy cricketers. At present there are many such players in Khausal Silva, Paranawithana, Thirimanne, Chandimal, Rumesh Buddhika, Angelo Perera, Munuweera, Nilushan Nonis ,Hans Fernando, Roshen Silva, Lahiru Peiris…….We need batsmen of good reflexes & full of youth exuberance, the class of Umar Akmals’, Virat Kolis’ & Shakeeb Al Hasans’.
    Please don’t group Angelo Mathews with Thisara Perera & Farvez Maharoof, Angelo is a complete batsman of good clean record (1st ClBaAv 52.52 ) who can bat anywhere in the batting order. In my opinion he should be asked to concentrate only on his batting because of his recurrent hamstring injury, if so it would be a big asset for the country in the long run because the players like Thilan, Dilshan,Sangakkara & Mahela have only a very short life. As for bowlers, the players of good height & strong physique should be given 1st preference to that of lean & weak. I don’t understand why bowlers the likes of Nuwan Soyza, Dilhara Fernando, Tharanga Laksita, Lastha Malinga, Ajantha Mendis (1st ClBoAv 18.40 ) Sachithra Senanayake(1st ClBoAv 19.92 ), S Prasanna(1st ClBoAv 20.10 ), Sajeewa Weerakone(1st ClBoAv 20.25 ),…..have been regularly ignored.