How the mighty have fallen. One-time World Cup winners Sri Lanka are now struggling to even make the cut for the tournament which they won back in 1996.
Their losses in all formats of the game are mounting and there doesn’t seem any light at the end of the tunnel. It is not just the defeat but the margin with which they have been thrashed is making people wonder what is wrong.
The frustration has been such that captain Angelo Mathews quit and handed over the reins to Dinesh Chandimal. It also led to the entire selection committee headed by Sanath Jayasuriya to quit.
So where does the problem lie? If talent is the sole criteria then Sri Lanka has plenty.
The problem lies with selectors and their policies. Wielding the axe like a Viking, they have been chopping and changing players at the drop of a hat. Most players are unsure if they will get a chance again after a couple of bad performances. So many players have been in and out of the side that one has to check a cricket website to find out if they had played before.
This does not augur well for a team which is in the process of rebuilding after losing two of their mainstays – Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara over the last three years.
Unfortunately both left within a year and this created a massive hole in the side. With Angelo Mathews missing in action often due to injury, the side was totally unsettled.The talented Dinesh Chandimal was always treated with suspicion and he was dropped often for no rhyme or reason.
Today Chandimal is captain which he fully deserves to be. But it defies logic. It is same with the others.
Dushmantha Chameera had raw pace which could unsettle even the best. But he was often dropped after his fine performances in England. He is the future of Sri Lankan cricket but he is in and out of the side. A fast bowler leaks runs and that fact has to be accepted. The selectors, many of whom are former cricketers, should have known about that.
Sri Lanka began to taste defeat ever so often. Even Zimbabwe and Bangladesh sent them tumbling recently.
This malaise will remain until the Sri Lankan board and selectors change their mindset.
The government should be kept away from selection matters. It is indeed horrifying that the sports minister has to ratify the team. It is ridiculous to say the least.
They should learn from Bangladesh. The selectors there have now opted for a mostly stable side, barring a few biased moves, and it has paid dividends.
An experienced player like Lasith Malinga, who has seen it all, has also called for stability in selection. Somebody should listen to him.
The latest whitewash by India will definitely hurt the cricket-loving people of the island country. India wouldn’t have dared experiment if it was a Sri Lankan side of a few years ago. It just goes to show that Sri Lanka’s reputation has eroded so much that they are losing respect in the cricketing world.
Consistent selection is the key to success in any sport. Experiments with youth are always welcome but not at the cost of the game. They should be judiciously introduced and maintained with when the time is right.
Sri Lanka might as well play Russian roulette instead of cricket.
The world waits for the Sri Lankan Lions to roar again and add their exciting brand of cricket. But time may run out soon if plans are not put in place now.
#All views expressed in this column are the author’s and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.