Ranjan Paranavithana, courtesy of Lakbima News
We Sri Lankans are in the habit of appreciating our cricketers when they are doing well. But we are so obsessed with victories that we forget about the future of the game. When the national team is doing well we do not search for the young talent. When the national players fail we realise that we do not have replacements. This is something different from other countries like Australia. Even when their national players are in good form and doing well they always look for the young talent and keep strengthening their second string. They have lots of initiatives for their second and third strings. It is also obvious that before they introduce a new player they have helped him achieve his top form. That way the player can easily be a match winner even in his debut match. But in our country we introduce players when they are just performing without letting them develop. We do not have a plan and for this the past cricket administrators are solely responsible. Before this, that is, three years ago we had the Cricket Academy from where we used to select players for the Sri Lanka A team.
And we had a sponsor for the Academy as well. But it was closed and tours of the Sri Lanka A side have been reduced. Today players are selected for the national side directly from clubs. Our A team had only single tour last year (to England). The England A side is currently playing a limited overs series in Sri Lanka. Four matches have already been played but we do not see a clear plan. Many wondered what the selectors want to do as questions have been raised as to whether they want to win matches or identify the players as it was said in the media conference before the series began. For an example in the first two matches we started bowling with fast bowlers but we lost the games. In the next two matches we started bowling with spin and we went on to win. It seemed that the officials were much more interested in winning the games rather than giving chances to fast bowlers, as in the school level also it is advised to begin the bowling with fast bowlers. We have to use fast bowlers for the opening spells if they want to give them the exposure as in the last two games the two fast bowlers bowled only eleven overs. The other important thing is that the first six batsmen of the side are left handers and if the England side had two off spinners we would have been in trouble. Danushka Gunatilaka who plays for SSC is one who has been found out to have a suspicious bowling action. In the last two games against England A he was called to bowl and picked up five wickets. But his action has been reported to the match referee as suspicious. These actions of the officials show that they want to win the games. It is apparent that we cannot allow for the wrongdoings in order to win matches. So it is obvious that if we are going to continue this way we cannot develop the game here. For sure we have the talent but it is up to the authorities to use and develop it in the proper way.