Should Sri Lanka follow the same direction currently taken by New Zealand, Australia, England and, India?
Currently, the famous ‘fab four’- Virat Kohli, Steven Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root- captain their respective teams. But on the other side, Sri Lanka don’t have a single player who captains captaining both in ODIs as well as T20.
It is rather strange that a campaigner like Angelo Mathews with the kind of experience he brings to the table- abdicated from Sri Lankan captaincy.
Clearly, Mathews is Sri Lanka’s only player who is performing really well across all formats. Since the retirements of Jayawardene and Sangakkara, Mathews was expected to play a crucial role with support from remaining players.
But that didn’t exactly happen. This has led to Sri Lanka’s transition phase- utterly difficult. We are seeing the kind of bashing they are getting.
Sadly, one can’t help but navigate to the past. At one point of time, Sri Lanka has as many as 5 match-winners and every one captained their side team one after other.
Here’s a recollection.
In 2003 World Cup, Sri Lanka, captained by Sanath Jayasuriya were well supported by Arvinda De Silva, Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Then came the next edition.
In 2007 World Cup, under the captaincy of Mahela Jayawardene , the team reached their second World Cup finals for the first time, after the win in 1996 against Australia at Lahore.
Match-winners led by example and continued a good form for the team well into the 2011 World Cup that once again saw Sri Lanka play a final in the Indian sub-continent. Then, Kumar Sangakkara led the team to finals.
Does it hurt their fans to see their team lacking in match-winners who can’t lead by example?
Do you recall a single Sri Lankan match-winner who can lead them far into a tournament?
In last one year Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga, Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera, Upul Tharanga have all captained their side. That too, without much success. It is certainly strange and also indicative of a worrying trend. That Sri Lanka is looking for a guiding light- at least with some leadership abilities that one sees in a Kohli, Root or Smith- seems to be a grave concern.
Around 6-8 months earlier, Thisara Perera was struggling to get into the team. But he got the chance against Pakistan and he captained their T20 side. Now, one sees Perera selected as a captain of both ODI and T20 teams against India.
What does that tell us about Sri Lanka? What are their management really thinking? Is this a result of some muddled thinking?
One wonders, why Thisara Perera? Why not Angelow Mathews or a Dinesh Chandimal or Upul Tharanga again. Where talent is concerned- there’s hardly a doubt about their batting abilities. They might not be the greatest of match-winners but can contribute handily from the bat and given the current structure, their experience can make youngsters stick around them.
So here’s what’s worrying. Tharanga wasn’t ready to travel to Pakistan for the T20s earlier. That cost him captaincy as well as his place in ODI team.
Now, suddenly, he has ascended to lead a struggling, inexperienced side.
Sri Lanka have already given Perera many chances to but he hasn’t really left an indelible mark on the side. Has he?
Soon, within 2 years, he would be participating in 2019 World Cup 2019 in England, Sri Lanka would want a constant, stable head leading them into a tournament of giant proportions.
They should take the decision by keeping forthcoming series in mind. Already their condition isn’t that good whether you see their form in last two years at both home and away conditions.
One immediately wonders about the 1996 World Cup win against Australia at Lahore, which was a turnaround moment for Sri Lankan cricket. That win gave world cricket stars like ‘Man Of the Match’ Arvinda de Silva, a feisty all-rounder in Sanath Jayasuriya, a mystery spinner in Muralitharan. Sri Lankans were everywhere. Then came, the partnership of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara who helped their team, serving it bravely for another 15 years. Now, time is calling out for change. It is, in fact, bleeding for change- for stability and durability.
This current team depends heavily on Angelo Mathews. Funnily, where Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, David Warner, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera all played in the same U-19 world cup, we can see where Kohli and Williamson are where is Dinesh Chandimal.
He needs to keep going. An odd fifty here and there won’t help much. Where is the consistency? Sri Lanka should try to extract the maximum from Angelo Mathews, their most experienced player in the team. This finally leads to a point.
Isn’t Angelo Mathews a better choice? Won’t his experience help the team? If selection committee wanted to give chance to Thisara Perera, then they should completely rally behind him and then decide whether he is the right leader for the upcoming World Cup.
Till then the question remains, if Perera is the ideal choice for leading Sri Lanka right now?