After losing some of its big stars, Sri Lankan cricket is going through a tough period. The signals coming from the island nation are not very promising either.
Thirtyfour-year-old Jehan Mubarak was brought back to the Sri Lankan team after eight years for the country’s last Test against Pakistan in Kandy last month which gave the impression that there could be a long-term problem with not many quality juniors coming up to fill the slots left vacant by the seniors.
The recent losses to the visiting Pakistan, in the Test, ODI and T20 series, only brought the painful reality to the fore.
The Indians will be travelling to Sri Lanka for a three-Test series this month. How is Sri Lanka looking at this tour? Can the Indians expect a party there?
“We didn’t do well against Pakistan and it was very disappointing overall.
“At the moment, you have to understand that Sri Lanka is going through a bit of a lean period after the retirement of most of our senior cricketers — (Kumar) Sangakkara, Mahela (Jayawardena) and (Tillakaratne) Dilshan.
“We didn’t do well, but we have enough cricketers to come back and do well,” said former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya here on Monday. India coming to Sri Lanka is very important to Sri Lanka cricket, I hope Sri Lanka plays good cricket during the three-Test series.
“It’s going to be tough for us for India plays good cricket and it is playing well at the moment. But in our conditions, our players are also good.”
Mubarak’s return was just to give a touch of experience to the batting order, explained Sri Lanka’s master blaster.
“I know what you’re thinking… you’re thinking, we don’t have young cricketers.
“We do have, but unfortunately, sometimes, depending on the situation, we may have to try a little bit of experience in our batting order,” said Jayasuriya, who was in Kochi on Monday for a promotional event.
“After Sanga, Mahela and Dilshan retired, we need someone with experience to be in the side.”
Talking about grooming youngsters, the 46-year-old felt that a quick try-and-throw policy would not produce results.
“I think we need to give youngsters opportunities. You can’t keep giving them one or two games and dropping them.
“If you start playing with youngsters, I think we have to give them about six months and make sure they get to play, only then will they come up with confidence,” said Jayasuriya who was Sri Lanka Cricket’s former chairman of selectors.
“If you keep changing, they will think that they are getting only one match and they will be under pressure. I think they should give youngsters a long period if they are giving them a chance.”
Doing basics right
He was impressed with Bangladesh’s stunning wins against cricket’s giants like South Africa and India.
“It’s good to see Bangladesh doing well. No one thought that Bangladesh would come up like this.
“They must also be having a very good junior cricket structure and a good club cricket structure, that is how you bring up cricketers,” said Jayasuriya.
“You can’t find cricketers straightaway at your club-level, you have to start from school level and bring it up.
“So I think Bangladesh must be doing their basics right. They have Sri Lankan Chandrika Hathurusingha as their coach and he is doing a great job.”