Tom Moody reviews Sri Lankan Cricket Scene


Sri Lanka haven’t won a Test since Muttiah Muralidaran retired back in July last year, a run stretching over 10 matches following the draw with Australia in Kandy. The game’s administration in the country is also struggling, a permanent replacement is yet to be appointed for former coach Trevor Bayliss. The Australian departed following April’s World Cup, before the country’s sports minister dissolved the cricket administration in July amid allegations of corruption and mismanagement, while rumours continued to circulate about players who were unsure of new captain Tillakaratne Dilshan’s leadership qualities.

But former Australian Test player Moody, who coached Sri Lanka from 2005-07, believes getting past the departure of retired greats like Muralidaran, fast bowler Chaminda Vaas and batsman Sanath Jayasuriya will be the nation’s biggest challenge.

‘What I found really fascinating when I was here was how resilient the players are because I don’t think they know any different,’ Moody told AAP in Colombo about the administrative turmoil. The biggest challenge Sri Lanka face at the moment is getting their head around accepting some of the game’s great players have retired and moving forward. Not looking back and trying to replace a Chaminda Vaas or a Murali because it’s not going to happen.

‘England spent over a decade trying to replace Ian Botham and wasted 10 years.

‘It’s a bit like Australia with Shane Warne. You’re not going to be able to replace Shane Warne. Yes you’ve got to be able to play another spinner in the side and he’ll play his own role according to what skills he brings to the table.’

Dilshan, as well as star batsmen Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera are all into their 30s and will start their own retirement plans over the next few years, creating a further talent drain for theSri Lankateam.

But Moody believes the generation next of players such as current vice-captain Angelo Mathews, young batsmen Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne and rising fast bowler Shaminda Eranga show there’s plenty of talent to lead the nation in years to come.

‘I think those guys have all got plenty of cricket left in them,’ Moody said of the experienced batting quartet.

‘But whatSri Lankadoes do is produce talent and there’s never been a shortage of that. I’m sure around the corner there are young players that will fill the shoes and set their own destiny. They’ll have their own careers in their own right.

‘There’d only be a concern forSri Lankaif there wasn’t talent and I think, from my understanding, there is a wealth of talent. An example was that kid (Thirimanne) who got that hundred in a practice match (againstAustralia).

‘He hasn’t played in the series and probably won’t play in the series butSri Lanka are in a fortunate position where they have got talent.’

Moody though does concede there is an issue with Dilshan’s captaincy, and not just with his aggressive, and at times reckless, batting style. Before he even starts his role he’s got in the same side, the ICC Test captain of the year (Sangakkara), and he’s also got one of the best captains Sri Lanka has ever had, in my view, in Mahela Jayawardene, who’s a very astute thinker and reader of the game,’ Moody said.

‘So before he even starts he’s in a pretty tough position because he’s got to deal with not just former captains, but former captains that are on the field. ‘I’m not sure how it works internally but externally that’s how people are viewing it. There’s always a reference point to the last two captains. The other challenge Dilshan has is he plays a brand of cricket that can be easily criticised as a batsman, let alone as a batsman that’s captain.’

But the 45-year-old, who says he’s not interested in coming back for a second stint as the nation’s coach, believes Dilshan shouldn’t try to temper his batting style just because people believe he should. ‘I think it’d be a great shame if he changes what is his great strength to accommodate what people’s view is on how he’s playing the game,’ he said. ‘He’s got to where he’s got to … purely because of the free-spirited game that he plays.’

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