Lack Of Adaptability Hurting Sri Lanka, Says Jayasuriya

February 09, 2017

It has been a rather long, unending tour of South Africa for the team from the emerald isle - Sri Lanka. A hapless show in the three-match Test series where they lost 0-3, followed by a quick redemption in the form of a 2-1 victory in the Twenty20 International (T20I) series and now the fear of a series whitewash in the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series, reflects the sorry run of form for the visiting side thus far.

It was only when Upul Tharanga scored his 14th ODI hundred in the fourth ODI during the daunting chase of 368, Sri Lanka witnessed its first hundred on the tour, while only three fifties came during the Test series.

Sanath Jayasuriya, the chief selector, brushed aside concerns about the country's domestic structure and rather pointed out the lack of adaptability from their players as the reason for their poor performance on the overseas tour. "We should be able to play under any conditions, not just at home," said Jayasuriya. "There's no point giving excuses or blaming our domestic structure after we lose a series. Your success depends on how fast you adjust to these conditions but sadly we have taken too long to do that."

"We really need to find a way to play outside of our comfort zone. We do better in our own conditions and win matches, but when we go out, we struggle. If we don't change this situation fast, we will only be winning matches at home," he added further.

This is not the first time that the country's domestic structure has drawn flak with questions regularly being asked of it. Their major first-class competition features as many as 14 teams, making it difficult to filter the best talents properly. Also, the overtly used spin-friendly wickets hasn't helped the growing cricketers with their skills of adjusting to different conditions.

"I wouldn't say there's a dearth of talent but we don't produce those champion cricketers as much as we did in the past," Jayasuriya said. "I don't think it's a problem with the domestic structure or the school structure, because it's the very system that produced all those champion cricketers in the past. So, we need to assess this situation and find out where the problem is and correct it.

"The problem I see here is not lack of talent but their inability to adjust quickly to situations and handle the pressure. You can't play cricket, if you can't absorb pressure," he said.

The veteran batsman called for the need of more player programmes in their formative years, mostly at the Under-19 stage, that would help harnessing the skills better in the upcoming cricketers. Kusal Mendis spent an entire season playing club cricket in Middlesex while Lahiru Kumara toured with the Under-19 side to England, before earning their national call-up.

"If we can do a player programme at least at the Under-19 level that will do a world of good for the players," he said. "We sent Kusal Mendis to England and we all know how well he performed in England last year. We've also seen South African players being sent to India to get used to spin wickets. This is one area we could really look at in the future," concluded Jayasuriya.


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