Sa’adi Thawfeeq, in The Sunday Observer, 8 May 2016, where the title is “Our bowling attack is one of the best in the world”
The Sri Lankan cricket team presently touring England maybe undergoing a period of transition, but chairman of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya is of the belief that if there is one department they are on par with, it is the bowling which he described as being one of the best attacks in the world.”The one department we are really good at is bowling. We have the top best bowling side in the world – five fast bowlers and spinners who are all experienced and very good,” Jayasuriya told the Sunday Observer.The Lankan pace attack comprises Dhammika Prasad, Shaminda Eranga, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera. They are backed by spinners Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera. Their total experience amounts to 164 Test appearances and 582 wickets.
Prasad, Eranga, Pradeep along with Herath played a big role in Sri Lanka winning their maiden Test series in England two years ago when they won the second and final Test at Leeds by 100 runs to clinch the two-match series 1-0.
“The only thing which we are lagging behind is our batting that is where you need to give them a little bit of time. You can’t find batsmen overnight you have to be a bit more patient with them,” said Jayasuriya. “That is why we have given a chance to (Lahiru) Thrimanne; we know how he can perform. He is going through a lean patch and he should get out of it very soon,” he said.
“We think the players selected for the England tour is the future of Sri Lanka cricket. That’s why I sat with the outgoing chairman of selectors Aravinda de Silva and we picked the team because we needed continuity in what he was thinking and in what we had in mind.
“They are talented cricketers we have and we want them to deal with the pressures at international level. What we need to give them is the confidence to play at international level. We need to build their confidence by giving them continuous exposure.
“It’s a very talented team and they are very good. They have been in the system for a long time in the Sri Lanka ‘A’, Development squads etc. that is why they have been selected. We have to groom this talent they are not a weak team they are talented, good domestic players who have played professional cricket overseas. What they need is international exposure at the highest level. We have given them that chance and we now have to be patient.”
Bonus: Jayasuriya cautioned not to expect big results from the side in England but if they perform well that it would a bonus. “You can’t get results overnight. The English tour is very tough that’s why Aravinda and me when picking the side, we had to be very careful whom we picked and the average age of the side,” said Jayasuriya. “We have to give the players a chance and the confidence. Everyone including the media and the country must support the team and be behind them.
“We have to look at the players’ performance in England on the long term. We can’t go on the short term just for the sake of winning. It’s not easy playing in England even though we won in 2014 we had to fight hard. You have to face reality we have to give the boys a chance and provide them with the maximum what the country can give. I am sure the players will perform well, if they can beat England it will be a big bonus, it will be an achievement we can all be proud of. Everyone who goes to England or Australia wants to perform there.”
“When you do well against those countries you will feel very happy,” he said. Jayasuriya, a former cricket captain turned politician said his first stint as chief selector was not as difficult as the one he had undertaken at present. On that occasion (January 2013 to March 2015) under Jayasuriya’s chairmanship Sri Lanka won a World T20 and a Test series in England both in 2014 for the first time, before exiting from the 2015 World Cup quarterfinals.
“I took this job on because I like the challenge. Thilanga (Sumathipala) and the Sports Minister had a lot of confidence in me. They knew what I did during my first two-year stint as chief selector,” said Jayasuriya. “Thilanga has been in touch with me from the first day he was elected SLC president. With my work I was initially a bit reluctant to undertake the job of selector. He asked me what kind of a role I can play to help Sri Lanka cricket, he knows how hard I work and my commitment.
“It will be a challenging job this time not like the last time when we had experienced players and everyone was contributing. Now is the very difficult period this is the time as a former player we should get together and try to lift our cricket to what it was a few years ago. The performances have gone down a bit and this is the time we need to look to help our country as former players and as a captain.
Goal : “My goal was for Sri Lanka cricket purely and not anything else. As long as I have done the right thing I am happy. Mistakes may happen at times in certain decisions we take but we are all human beings. What I want from my co-selectors is to independently choose the sides. If we do the right thing we will get to the right place,” he said.
Jayasuriya said that SLC have given the players everything they needed and it is now their turn to show some appreciation and take on some responsibility and play like professional cricketers.