Change In Fielding Standards Demands Long-Term Fix, Feels Sri Lanka Coach Graham Ford

Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford feels that the fielding worries run deep in the cricket roots of the country and needed long-term patience for its upheaval. Often regarded as one of the better fielding sides from the subcontinent in the past, the Lankans have missed the bus while not being able to keep in touch with the escalating standards on the field.

The recent overseas tours have brought to light the poor catching standards of its team and although they won the Twenty20 International series against Australia, a lot of chances were grassed, with the ground fielding not being great either.

"I think fielding, for quite a long time, has been a problem for Sri Lanka," Ford admitted. "They've tried various coaches at the national team level. The board's realised that you're not just going to solve the problem by having a coach at the top, because the players coming through to the top are way off the required standard. No coach is going to turn someone into a star fielder if he hasn't been coached for quite some time. It's the old story of you can't teach an old dog new tricks."

The coach felt that the fielding standards weren't going to change overnight and it would take a lot of patience to change the scene.

"You can't just get a group of players and put them together with Jonty Rhodes and think that tomorrow they're going to go out and field well. It is going to take some time."

"I think the board should be commended on really looking and they're trying to get a fielding program working with the Under-19s, the emerging players, and the A team players, so that by the time they get to the national level, they're ready and fully content to field there," Ford added.

While the country's domestic structure is believed to be poorly structured and doesn't boast of the best of resources, the cricket body has engaged its best fielding coach, Nick Pothas, with the junior team and is attempting to lift the standards at the grassroot level. He also added that the board's decision to strengthen its pool of fitness trainers would also allow the team to head in the right direction.

"Hopefully that project is pursued with determination and patience, and in time, I think Sri Lanka can become the best fielding nation in the world. I believe the Under-19 team at the moment is fielding pretty well. It's just about getting those basics right at a young age. For some time now, we've had high quality fielding coaches working with the national team, but it's almost too late."

"Athletic ability, speed and ability is also important, so it's not just the fielding coach - the conditioning coaches also need to be involved. I think with that project put in place, there will in time be a result. Credit to the board that they've looked into this and decided they will have a proper fix and a long-term fix," concluded Ford.


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