Sri Lanka´s Master Plan to Lose the 2011 Cricket World Cup
Posted on February 12th, 2011

By Ravindra Wickremasinghe 

When it comes to winning, you need the skill and the will. “”…” Anon

The 2011 Cricket World Cup is upon us and this is an ideal time to revisit and update the article by this author published on this on November 21, 2005 titled, How to revitalize Sri Lankan cricket: A suggestion* The article was a reaction to the 6-1 trashing by India in the “Videocon Cup” cricket series.

  It is said that madness is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different (better), result. There is however a method to the madness of team Sri Lanka as it has obstinately adhered to and consistently implemented its plan to fail which, inter alia, consists of:

 1. Choosing to bat on a bowling wicket and vice versa;

2. Not setting a target of a minimum of 280+ runs for the opposition;

3. Wasting batting and bowling powerplays;

4. Not mixing seniors and juniors in the batting order;

5. Not moving the attacking players Kapugedara, Matthews and Malinga up the batting order;

6. Allowing Mahela Jayawardane and Thilan Samaraweera to waste precious overs playing a

test match in an ODI;

7. Taking risky singles and enjoying run outs whenever possible and further building on its

blatant inability to hit sixes;

8. Allowing senior batsmen to use every opportunity to increase their record of maiden overs;

9. Leaving the game to tail-enders and bowlers. They need a decent total to build on or defend;

10. Persisting in its inability to build batting partnerships, score centuries and breaking

partnerships of the opposition;

11. Not placing a fielder on the long stop/very fine leg boundary to prevent the four byes of


12. Not attempting to break the jinx of losing finals.

 Currently the team has two main assets “”…” all-rounder Angelo Matthews (23) and fast bowler and batsman Lasith Malinga (27). They will be exceptionally burdened in this World Cup due to the failures of their seniors especially Tillakaratne Dilshan (34), Mahela Jayawardane (33), with the bat and Muttiah Muralitharan (38), with the ball. Most Sri Lankan’s may want to have no memory of the 1999 World Cup when we were eliminated in the first round. From 1996 onwards most other teams emulated Sri Lanka´s successful batting strategy of employing an opening pair consisting of a left hand, right hand combination. Not only did they master it but they very effectively used it against us in 1999 and ever since.

 Mahela Jayawardane pathetic non-performance in the tour of Australia late last year has been completely overlooked by the selectors as has the consistent batting failure of Tillakaratne Dilshan. In fact, both Jayawardane and Dilshan are now in the team as fielders. Dilshan may play a more useful role as a bowler when Sri Lanka is unable to break partnerships which is more the rule than the exception. Also for the most part Upul Tharanga (26), continues his run of inconsistancy while Dilhara Fernando (31), continues to be underutilized as a attacking batsman. We need the openers to get off to a blazing start in the first 10 overs getting us close to 80 runs before Sangakkara comes in at number three and the slowdown in the runrate begins. Sri Lanka keep the scoreboard ticking and keep taking the Arjuna Ranatunga type singles as well.

 Much past his prime spinning wizard Muttiah Muralitharan may well continue to play his unique role in this World Cup where he will donate the maximum number of runs to the the opposing team. This is usually in the range of 25 to 40 runs. Other teams can bat in the full knowledge that Murali is on their side.

 In fact, as unbelivable as it is the selectors have to their credit dropped Sanath Jayasuriya (41), who was destined to play the most unique role by an allrounder in the history of the game. That is, consitantly scoring ducks or less than double figures and then balling/giving the maximum number of runs to the opposing team.

 The selectors have made an unforgivable mistake by not replacing Mahele Jayawardane or Thilan Samaraweera (34), with Thilina Kandamby (28) or promising allrounder Bhanuka Rajapaksa (19). Over the past year had they been given an opportunity Kandamby would have regained his attacking batting form and Rajapaksa would have gained enough first class and international exposure and the resulting confidence necessary for a World Cup. Sri Lanka is one of the very few teams without a precocious teen talent in its ranks. In fact, Sri Lanka is currently the oldest team with an average age of 35.

 The stregths and or weaknesses of the players are follows:

 Upul Tharanga – inconsistant/underscoring opening batsman but decent fielder;

Tillakaratne Dilshan – out of form batsman, underused bowler but excellent fielder;

Kumar Sangakkara – excellenty batsman, wicket keeper but unimaginative captain;

Mahela Jayawardene – underperforming and overs-wasting batsman but good fielder;

Thilan Samaraweera – overs-wasting batsman and decent fielder;

Angelo Mathews – excellent bowler, match winning batman and fielder;

Chamara Kapugedera – out of form bastman, ordinary bowler but decent fielder;

Nuwan Kulasekara – decent bolwer and fielder;

Muttiah Muralitharan – expensive bolwer (enjoys getting smashed out of the

ground), good fielder and match winning batsman;

Lasith Malinga – excellent bowler, match winning batman and fielder;

Ajantha Mendis – decent bowler, fielder and batsman

Thisara Perera – underperforming batsman, decent fielder and bowler;

Dilhara Fernando – excellent bowler, fielder but underused bastman;

Rangana Herath – decent bowler and fielder

Chamara Silva – out of form batsman but decent fielder.

 The team consists of good fielders, inconsistant and underperforming batsmen and passive bowlers.

 As the second anniversary of the end of the war in Sri Lanka approaches, there are many lessons from the battlefield which can be applied to the cricket field. The main one being, always keep the opposition guessing and under pressure and attack strategically. Psychological warfare is the name of the game and much more the case in this day and night World Cup. While Sri Lanka will be well severed if the non-regular bowlers are also given at least one over, however, the lesson we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.

 Ideally each and every one of Sri Lanka’s 25 districts should build up three teams for tests, ODIs and T20s and then only then best will play in the three national teams. This is what Australia does. While it has about the same population as Sri Lanka it has the best domestic teams. Had such a policy been implemented, the selectors could have chosen the best of the best to make team invincible. We would have been spoilt for choice.

 Sadly over the past five years little has been done to encourage and nurture young talent especially for the outstations as otherwise Sri Lanka would by now have had three teams from each district in the three forms of the game. Imagine youth from the post conflict North and East playing in the national team on the basis of talent and thereby also promoting national unity and the vision of a new Sri Lanka! What great mentorship Jayasuriya and Muralitharan could have provided for the building of a multi-religious multicultural team.

 Unfortunately this World Cup tournament will be especially awkward for Captain Kumar Sangakkara (33), who may display his usual consistency with the bat, however, he may rely on his buddies Vice-Captain Mahela and senior player Murali for counsel but when they consistently fail, he will be embarrassed while the team is demoralized and the nation humiliated. Even our 1996 World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga recently expressed his concern about the middle order batting line-up which is currently a muddle disorder with too many test players and no ODI specialists. This team which plays all three forms of the game is by definition an Achcharu team and may very well put us in the pickle.

 While the selectors, team and the fans may believe that we have a match winning combination of youth and experience, we must remember that experience is the name we give to our mistakes and you cannot teach old dog’s new tricks. Neither introspection nor innovation are our forte.

 The sense of entitlement and complacency amongst the senior players which has led to lack of experimentation both individually and collectively has brought Sri Lanka to this desperate state where the few saving graces are our reduction in bleeding extras and playing in familiar conditions in South Asia. However, the incessant rains and the Duckworth“”…”Lewis method (D/L method) are no friends of team Sri Lanka. All other team except team Sri Lanka and its selectors are aware of our plan to fail or our failure to plan. Two good overs may well decide the outcome of each match.

 While this writer’s best wishes are with team Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, England, India and South Africa are the teams to watch out for. Of course, one should never rule out the defending champions Australia. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.

How to revitalize Sri Lankan cricket: A suggestion* By Ravindra Wickremasinghe



One Response to “Sri Lanka´s Master Plan to Lose the 2011 Cricket World Cup”

  1. Wickrama Says:

    What a pathetic, useless article!! Like spitting upwards ! Rather than giving some positive, encouraging advice to our cricketers ahead of the coming world cup, this author highly exaggerates the negative aspects of our cricketers, forgetting that in one day cricket anything is possible. Sri Lanka definitely has the potential to win the WC this time, but obviously needs good performances from the team, and of course a little bit of luck at crucial times.

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