Why Sri Lanka struggle in the T20 format | Daily News


 

Why Sri Lanka struggle in the T20 format

Why Sri Lanka are struggling to perform in T20 international cricket is twofold. First of all they don’t have a regular domestic T20 inter-club tournament and neither do they have a Premier League franchise with international stars participation like other countries. The second factor is that the majority of our top order batsmen sport a batting average of less than 20 so it is no surprise that Sri Lanka average around 140-160 totals which is insufficient in today’s context for the bowlers to defend.

The current administration of Sri Lanka Cricket is doing their best to bridge the gap with a Major T20 tournament that commenced on Saturday with 26 clubs in the fray and also a Sri Lanka Premier League in the pipeline scheduled to commence in August. However the benefits of these tournaments will be reaped only in another few years’ time.

In the meanwhile with the World T20 fast approaching Sri Lanka need to find an immediate solution to shore up their top order batting so that they regularly score in excess of 180 in an innings to give their bowlers a fair chance of restricting or dismissing the opposition. The cold stats show that Sri Lanka has gone past the 200-run mark only twice in their last 30 T20 Internationals when teams like India whom Sri Lanka is currently involved with in a three-match series are regularly hitting the 200-run mark as was witnessed in their last series against West Indies.

From the side that is touring India Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Avishka Fernando and Dasun Shanaka all average below 20, Danushka Gunathilaka averages 21, Kusal Perera 28 and Angelo Mathews 27. Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Oshada Fernando who both made their T20I debuts in the recently concluded series in Pakistan and have played only a dozen matches between them average 33 and 48 respectively.

What our cricketers lack is the constant exposure to T20 cricket. The only opportunities they get are when they represent their country or if they are lucky enough to be signed up to represent a team in one of the T20 franchise leagues around the world like the Indian Premier League, the Big Bash League (in Australia), the Caribbean Premier League (in West Indies), Bangladesh Premier League, the Pakistan Super League or the Mzansi Super League (in South Africa).

There was talk of getting down power hitting coach Julian Wood from England for a few weeks to work with our batsmen, but it is learnt that the idea has now been shelved and that former Zimbabwe cricketer Grant Flower will address that area in addition to his duties as batting coach of the national team.

Through carefully constructed training routines and equipment, Wood has created his own coaching format which has helped several international players perfect their technique as effective power hitters. He worked with the England team that went onto win the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

 


THE RATIONALE OF PLAYING WARM-UP FOOTBALL

The ankle injury sustained by Test opener Rory Burns that has placed him in danger of missing out on England’s two-Test tour of Sri Lanka in February has once again given rise to the question whether common sense should prevail in allowing cricketers the freedom of warming-up ahead of an international cricket match by playing a game of football.

If Burns fails to make the tour he will join another England Test cricketer Jonny Bairstow who a year ago lost his place as wicketkeeper on a tour of Sri Lanka after damaging ankle ligaments in a kick-about.

There has been several instances of international cricketers getting injured by kicking the soccer ball around that it is high time that coaches and trainers took a hard look at the rationality of getting players to warm-up in this manner.

Sri Lanka has also had their fair share of players getting injured while indulging in a game of football during a warm-up.

During the 2009 tour of India, ace spinner Muthiah Muralitharan suffered a leg injury while playing soccer and in 2013 fast bowler Shaminda Erana suffered a freak leg injury playing a warm-up game of soccer when he collided with team mate Tillakaratne Dilshan on the eve of the third Test against Australia at Sydney. But in spite of these incidents the Lankan players even today still indulge in a game of the most popular sport in the world to get their adrenaline flowing.

It is reliably learnt that Sri Lanka cricket’s new head coach South African Mickey Arthur is not a great fan of playing warm-up football and in all probability will put an end to this ever growing menace that is taking a heavy toll of players.


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