Our cricket future is safe assures ‘A’ team coach Gunawardene | Daily News
Expects a tough ODI series against Irish starting today:

Our cricket future is safe assures ‘A’ team coach Gunawardene

Lasith Embuldeniya
Lasith Embuldeniya

Sri Lanka ‘A’ team head coach Avishka Gunawardene said that the future of the country’s cricket was safe following the ‘A’ team’s 1-0 series victory against a strong Ireland ‘A’ side in the two-match unofficial test series that concluded at Hambantota on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka ‘A’ won the first unofficial test played at the SSC quite comprehensively by ten wickets inside three days, but were made to fight by the Irish in the second played at the Mahinda Rajapakse Stadium in Sooriyawewa which ended in a draw after Sri Lanka ‘A’ were forced to follow-on.

“After the first ‘test’ the match finished within three days I think the guys probably underestimated Ireland’s talent. They adjusted very well to the conditions quickly and what we found out is that they are not a bad side. Their discipline is very good and there are 4-5 national players in the team. For the ODIs another 2-3 national players are coming. I guess the ODI standards will be much better than the four-dayers,” said Gunawardene.

The five-match ODI series starts at Hambantota today with the second match also scheduled to be played at the same venue on January 21. The remaining three matches will take place at the SSC on January 24 and 26 and at the R Premadasa Stadium on January 29.

The Irish were all at sea against the slow left-arm orthodox deliveries of Lasith Embuldeniya who ran circles around them to finish with a match bag of nine wickets in the first ‘test’ at the SSC, but in the second ‘test’ the Irish got their act together to post an impressive first innings score of 508-8 declared. Embuldeniya was made to work hard for his three wickets that came at a cost of 142 runs off 43 overs. In the second innings however he picked up two of the three wickets to fall for 37 runs opening the bowling to end the series as the leading wicket-taker with 14 wickets.

“Embuldeniya is our future, most probably if he plays another season of domestic cricket and another 2 or 3 ‘A’ team tours he will be ready to play Test cricket,” said Gunawardene.

“He bowled pretty well on the flat track at Hambantota. It’s just that he needs to get a little bit more experience. He bowls well within himself. To me he will be the next bowler who will be running the show for Sri Lanka. It’s not only his bowling but as a cricketer and team player he is a very nice lad, his educational levels are good so he understands what you say. He can grab whatever the coaches are saying and his work ethics are good. All those ingredients are there in him and he has a good future,” he said.

Gunawardene had already expressed his opinion on opening bat Prabath Nissanka whom he has marked out as a future Test opener. Nissanka scored a match-saving double century that helped Sri Lanka ‘A’ draw the second ‘test’ at Hambantota after they were made to follow-on 205 runs in arrears.

It was Nissanka’s magnificent knock coupled with fast bowler Chamikara Karunaratne’s maiden first-class century that saw Sri Lanka ‘A’ deprive the Irish of a possible win.

“It was basically a simple game plan. We were asked to follow-on on a placid batting pitch. By the time we followed-on the Ireland players had been on the field for 60-70 overs. If we could have kept them on the field for another 20-30 overs we could have wear them down and then it would have become easier to bat,” explained Gunawardene on the tactics used by them to thwart the Irish on the fourth and final day.

“At the end of the day we almost had a chance to win the game but by the time we decided to declare Chamikara was 70 not out and since we had already won the series I thought it will be better to allow Chamikara to get his first first-class hundred and give him some confidence. That was the thinking. Otherwise we could have had an outside chance to win the game from a losing point. When we started play on the fourth day we were under pressure but from there to go onto getting into a winning position the guys did pretty well,” he said.

Gunawardene’s assessment that the country’s cricket is in good hands has been arrived at not from Sri Lanka ‘A’s success against Ireland ‘A’ but from a series of good performances in recent years.

“Apart from Angelo (Perera) and captain Ashan (Priyanjan) our average age of the team is about 20-21 years. If you look at our performances we have won the Emerging Cup a few weeks ago and we won the Emerging Cup the year before also. In the last 24 months the ‘A’ team has not lost a series,” said Gunawardene.

“The future of cricket I don’t think you have to be worried about because there is a good bunch of players who are coming up. All these guys Kamindu Mendis is 20, Pathum Nissanka is 21, sadly Charith Asalanka is injured he is 21, Chamikara Karunaratne is 22 and Lasith Embuldeniya is 22. All these guys are in their early 20s and in another two years down the line you’ll see them taking over Sri Lanka cricket,” Gunawardene, a former Sri Lanka Test and ODI opener assured.


Add new comment