Charith Senanayake: Sri Lanka Cricket requires an overhaul for a bright future

The 1996 world champions have suffered from inconsistency in recent years

Sri Lankan cricket team captain Dimuth Karunaratne reacts after been hit by the ball during the final day of the final cricket Test match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand at P. Sara Oval cricket stadium in Colombo on August 26, 2019. / AFP / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI
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Former Sri Lanka manager Charith Senanayake has called for an overhaul of the team’s culture as off-field issues and disappointing results continue to plague the nation’s cricket setup.

Sri Lanka Cricket has suffered a number of backroom problems that include corruption, match-fixing and political interference. They have also gone through 10 coaches in the past nine years.

“The crisis we are in is a true reflection of the current state of affairs in the country at present, in general,” Senanayake told The National. “This needs to change sooner rather than later, if we are to perform consistently well in the future.”

Sri Lanka suffered a humiliating Test series-levelling defeat to New Zealand, losing by an innings and 65 runs at the P Sara Oval in Colombo on Monday.

The humbling defeat followed an impressive six-wicket victory for the hosts in the first Test at Galle, and Senanayake accused the team of letting their standards drop.

“It’s not the kind of performance you expect from a professional outfit,” said the former Sri Lanka Test opener.

“This is not the first time it happened, winning in Galle and losing the next in Colombo. It appears that we never learn from our past mistakes.”

With a large portion of the Colombo Test lost to rain delays, Senanayake felt Sri Lanka appeared to play for a draw due to the weather conditions.

“The fact is we failed to control the on field situations which were controllable to an extent,” he said. “My belief is that we took things for granted and the tactics misfired completely.”

Senanayake said he was also surprised when Sri Lanka elected to bat first following the rain the night before the game.

“There was a fair amount of moisture underneath,” he said. “However, the surface cannot be blamed for the loss and no excuses.

“One should know their home conditions better than the visitors. New Zealand posted 400-plus on the board with hardly any pressure. To me, it was lack of application from our team.

“Arguably, we had the best eleven available on the field. Perhaps the issue is, once some players perform well enough in one game to secure their places for few more, they tend to drop the intensity for the next.”

Sri Lanka now go into a three-match Twenty20 series against New Zealand, which will be viewed as a forerunner to prepare the squad for the T20 World Cup in Australia in October and November.

“SLC is going through a transition period and all formats are equally important,” said Senanayake.

“However, if they want to create an impact, they should make proper preparations with clear goals in sight from now on. If not we may end up like what happened at the last World Cup.

“We need to have horses for courses. Set them on the right path with clear intentions. Things will fall in place. At present, the energies are spread in all directions like a ship without a rudder.

“We still have one of the best school cricketing structures. What we lack is proper management.”