On 19th March, when Mehedi Hasan Miraz scored the winning runs against Sri Lanka, the legions of fans who have supported Bangladesh cricket for so long, found a reason to smile. On the other side of the coin, there could not be a more embarrassing moment for Sri Lanka. Losing a Test match at home is disappointing for all the top teams, even when the opposition is formidable.
As a reaction to the defeat, Sri Lankan newspaper The Island carried an obituary (a rehash of the infamous clipping that started The Ashes rivalry) lamenting the death of Sri Lankan cricket. Indeed, the obituary couldn’t have come at a better time. Sri Lanka used to be a dominant force in world cricket with players like Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya capable of dismantling any opposition.
However, the recent team looks meek by comparison. Yes, there are a few talented batsmen like Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne but they are not consistent enough to be feared by opposition bowlers. Probably, Angelo Matthews and Rangana Herath are the only two players who could walk into other Test sides, with ease.
The rankings suggest the same. Rangana Herath is the only Sri Lankan who finds a place in the ICC Top 10 rankings for bowlers and batsman. As a team, they have now slipped to seventh place, ahead of only West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
To add to their woes, the Sri Lankan cricket board is not making things easier. They don’t have a great domestic system in place to make sure that only players of international calibre come through, and they don’t give their first class cricketers enough money to make sure that they play at their highest potential.
Of course, things could change and we may see a totally different Sri Lankan team in the upcoming Champions Trophy. But as things stand now, Sri Lanka is fading fast as a force to reckon with in world cricket.
Image Courtesy: Sri Lankan Cricket’s Facebook page