Fast bowlers are missing the X factor to take wickets - Ratnayake | Daily News

Fast bowlers are missing the X factor to take wickets - Ratnayake

Sri Lanka fast bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake at the nets with Lasith Malinga.
Sri Lanka fast bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake at the nets with Lasith Malinga.

BRISTOL, Sunday - Rumesh Ratnayake has been the head of Sri Lanka’s fast bowling unit now for two years and he is responsible for producing the type of bowlers who can win matches for Sri Lanka.

The fast bowling unit is headed by experienced campaigner Lasith Malinga, but as for the rest of the unit there is a lot of work to be done to make them more effective than what they are today.

The core issue as Ratnayake sees it is the bowlers not putting the right ball in the right place at the right time consistently.

Why aren’t the bowlers able to bowl six balls in one spot?

“That’s a question we have asked and are trying to sort out it’s a work in progress,” said Ratnayake. “It’s a matter of doing it over and over again and once you are used to doing it, it becomes like second nature, a habit. Malinga has been doing it. We have to master it.”

“What we are missing is the X factor – it’s what you bowl at the right time is what matters. This is my message to the boys that we can make it the X factor. Nuwan Pradeep got four wickets and those were X factor balls. Similarly Malinga bowled three good yorkers which was an X factor,” said Ratnayake.

“Malinga knows what to bowl, where to bowl and at what point of time. That’s a thing we have to build on the penetration. We don’t have the Vaas’ and the Dilharas but with this current crop we’ll have to manage. Unfortunately we have injuries in the past and today there was another injury (Pradeep). That is a missing link in us of getting wickets as and when we want to.”

“In my view if all of them bowled those right areas at the right time we might get there. It is not a deliberate act of not bowling well. It can be more deliberate of bowling well. At this level we have to be in the right areas most of the time. As a coach that’s my ambition and that’s what I work on. That’s what I expect the bowlers to do,” Ratnayake said.

“When the execution is not happening I get frustrated but as a coach I don’t want to show it because it’s like a weak thing. We have to be strong and say these are things which can happen but it should be minimized and how are we going to do it.”

For a bowler like Malinga, what can a coach tell?

“What I would be telling him is there were times he used to get five wickets and there was a lull and then there was a four-for. We ask him why there is no consistency, things like that we discuss. I gave him a challenge against South Africa or New Zealand can’t remember which one, to have the consistency going not the mere factor of getting wickets but the consistency of bowling well. In Lasith’s case it’s a matter of just reminding him of what he is doing. The others I have to show it as well,” said Ratnayake who played for Sri Lanka in 23 Tests and 70 ODIs and took 71 and 76 wickets respectively between 1983 and 1993.

Ratnayake at 55 said that over the years fast bowling has evolved a lot from what it was when he played and now.

“The training methodolgy and the things which they do now are totally different from what we have done. For example when we practiced we used to bowl for hours on end. If I bring that straight into today’s context it’s not the right thing because they play a lot more cricket,” said Ratnayake.

“But saying that we have to monitor and manage them to see whether they are bowling enough and more so whether they are bowling too much because we have to play them in various matches. We used to do a lot of long distance running and they do sprints which takes a lot out of their bodies. We can’t say that just because we ran miles and miles they should also be doing that maybe occasionally a mix of that and an occasional long bowl. Malinga is a perfect example for coming and bowling long spells,” he said.

Ratnayake had four serious injuries during his career - two shoulder and two knee and he recalls they didn’t have the privilege of trainers, physios and doctors like today to attend to them. “The time I had my shoulder injury I was sent to a normal hospital to do physiotherapy which they do for people who are coming out of sickness and things like that. There were no sports physios to help us. Those were the times and we learnt lessons from that.”

How did fast bowlers of his era prepare for a match?

“I used to do my weight training also but not to the same extent and intensity as these boys do today. In the 10 years I played my preparation was running on the beach and doing a little bit of strengthening but nowadays it is scientifically proven that running on soft sand is not a good thing. It’s bad for the knees and the joints. Most of the Sri Lankans are top heavy which is not helping,” said Ratnayake.

“Now they are asked to run on grass and cycling, sprints and swimming. I did only running and weights to my knowledge not the scientific way of doing things. In my era most of the fast bowlers did similar things. Ashantha (de Mel) also ran a lot and bowled a lot. I remember Ashantha bowling from the start to the end at practice same with other fast bowlers, that’s how we got our stamina. But our intensity or cricket three Tests and 6 ODIs per year it was nothing compared to today where they play cricket for about 250 days of the year.”


Add new comment