Head Coach Chandika Hathurusinghe, while observing that Sri Lanka had performed very pleasingly in the last seven months of international matches, stressed that the build up for the 2019 Cricket World Cup was on and that progressively one could get a hang of the world cup combinations being created going on the selections on a tournament by tournament basis.
Addressing the media at the post-South Africa home tour at the SSC Marquee, Hathurusinghe said that the key priority would be preparations for the upcoming hectic tours of New Zealand and Australia. Accordingly, ‘how we practice will help us’ in player conditioning of the different country by country environments.
“We pretty much know about our batting depth. In the bowling we are looking for different combinations and we have identified the different player roles,” quipped the Head Coach who emphasized that importantly team selections would be differently based for the Asia Cup and World Cup which were two contrasting entities.
In regard to tour preparations, he observed that practicing in special tracks created in Kandy and Dambulla was one of the prime focusses in gelling the respective teams for the tours of New Zealand and Australia.
The ideal opportunities were being created for players to avail themselves. “I can only plan and give them the opportunity and it is up to the players to perform and deliver,” Hathurusinghe stressed while also observing that there had been an improvement on injuries in the last six months. In fact, there had been no soft injuries.
Responding to media queries as to why Kusal Mendis had been prioritized over Niroshan Dickwella in the T20 match against South Africa despite the latter displaying pleasing form, Hathurusinghe said that Kusal Mendis was a highly rated blossoming player in world cricket and was therefore prioritized more than any player. Furthermore, Mendis had performed quite equitably in recent tours of Bangladesh and the West Indies.
Meanwhile, national selector Gamini Wickremesinghe fielding questions as to why Lasith Malinga and Lahiru Thirimanne had been overlooked for recent selections, said that both these players were in the selection equation. Of course, Malinga should play domestic cricket to gain recognition while Thirimanne was high on their list but there had to be the right vacancy.
At the outset, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Chief Executive Officer, Ashley de Silva said that the home tour against South Africa had been extremely happily rewarding for Sri Lanka. “We won the test series comprehensively and the one-day series was a very close one while victory in the one off T20 was a great round off for Sri Lanka. All in all, it was highly successful for us”, the CEO observed.
Skipper Angelo Mathews also aired his views on the criteria as to the slotting of players in the batting order. Dasun Shanaka had performed pleasingly in the three limited over matches he had played. But players could not be rushed into permanent batting positions. There had to be progressive continue to do so.
By Srian Obeysekare