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Well of cricketing talent running dry..

uThe signs and symptoms have been showing for the past several years, however no remedies or solutions were found as the authorities concerned were more interested in short-term gains rather than medium and long-term results.

The post-Sangakkara and Jayawardene era has just begun and as expected Sri Lanka Cricket is struggling to come to terms with it. A three-Test home series was lost to Pakistan and the five match one-day series at the time of writing was 2-1 in favour of Pakistan. It’s not the winning and the losing that matters but the manner in which Sri Lanka played the Test and one-day series that is of great concern.

With no schoolboy cricketers coming through the pipeline after Angelo Matthews and Thisara Perera, Sri Lanka had to turn back to 34-year-old Jehan Mubarak, 29-year-old Milinda Siriwardene and 26-year -old Sachith Pathirana for the Pakistan series. Hence, it is a known fact that not only the premier cricket tournament at club level but the Sri Lanka schools cricket tournaments have not been structured to nurture talented cricketers. Recently, the national bowling coach
Champaka Ramanayake was quoted as saying that on an average a medium
pacer had bowled less than 5-8 overs a game in the Premier League Tournament. How can we produce fast bowlers if they do not bowl an adequate number of overs in a game? There are instances where spinners open the bowling in Premier League matches. The same thing was happening in school cricket. To overcome the situation, it was made mandatory that the first eight overs had
to be bowled by fast bowlers in the first innings. No wonder fast bowlers are
becoming a dying breed in Sri Lanka!

The manner in which Kithuruwan Vithanage (who was incidentally fighting for a Test position) was dismissed in the first innings of the second Test testifies to the mentality and the “don’t care attitude” and irresponsibility of these up-and- coming youngsters. Is this an attitude of the individual or can it is due to the coaches/coaching system or acombination of both? Whatever the reasons are, the fact is that most of the young players coming through are no different. The question that needs to be asked is WHY?

The schools system is no different. School coaches and administrators are hell bent on winning tournaments rather than nurturing schoolboy cricketers to take up national positions tomorrow. Batting techniques are compromised, negative bowling and defensive field setting has become the order of the day.No wonder there are no school cricketers emerging. Thus it is not surprising that Sri Lanka has not produced a good schoolboy cricketer to play at National Level after Angelo Matthews.

The problems and the issues faced by Sri Lanka Cricket are known. Sadly they have not been addressed. It’s time to take the bull by the horns, it’s time to make the hard decisions to be made. If not, the country’s most popular sport is bound to continue its downward trend and hit rock bottom very soon.

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