Sri Lankan cricket, in recent years, has gone through a tough period. Their star players retiring and first-class cricket in shambles, it’s been a tough time for the fans to watch their team losing continuously.
Deepu Narayanan a statsman for Cricbuzz, recently tweeted, “Sri Lanka hasn’t beaten India in a bilateral ODI series since Aug 1997. To put in perspective, Mahela Jayawardene — Sri Lanka’s most capped ODI player with 443 matches — was yet to make his debut in the format then, and it is six years since he retired.” This stat is a worrying one for the Lankans and their cricket board in general. So, let’s figure out what is the reason behind it:
Once, Sri Lanka had a team of star-studded players, which the whole world feared. Players like Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga, and multiple stars. In the later era, players like Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath, and Muttiah Muralitharan, who lead them to two consecutive World Cup finals, as well as winning the T20 World Cup in 2014. With them all being gone, there’s a major void that still hasn’t been filled.
There are 25 first-class teams in Sri Lanka. In a country with a population of 22 million, 25 teams are excessive. This dilutes the competition, resulting in a big gap between the domestic and international circuit. The homegrown players can’t adjust to international cricket, and are left battling. Kumar Sangakkara said that the Sri Lankan cricketers are figuring out how to play test cricket on the global stage, as opposed to being prepared for first-class cricket. This assertion says a lot about the current framework.
Consistency In Selection
Sri Lanka, since the 2015 World Cup, has used the most number of debutants among all the cricket-playing nations. The large issue isn’t having the greatest measure of debutants. The greater issue is that even in 2021, they don’t have a steady playing XI. The selection board continues to do “overhauls” to help the nation’s cricket. However, it won’t ever help. As of late, they sacked all players over the age of 32 (counting the skipper Dimuth Karunaratne) and got another pack of players with another captain in Kusal Perera to play ODIs.
Captaincy And Coaching
For a cricket team to be successful, it needs a stable coach and a captain with strong leadership skills, who can motivate the team to be better and better. Sri Lanka had 12 different captains and four different coaches since the 2011 World Cup, which clearly shows signs of instability. Players like Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, and Dinesh Chandimal were the next generation superstars, but bad management and the instability did not allow such talents to develop.