Reading Sri Lanka’s Cricketing Debacle at Mumbai

Dyan Seneviratne … [1]

 “Dear Cricket Lovers,

Understandably ….. [after the recent debacle in Mumbai in the World Cup match vs India]  …. the inevitable cacophony will ring to a crescendo demanding the resignation of all and sundry tagged to SL Cricket – the head coach, batting, bowling, fielding coach and who ever agitated fans feel have contributed to the present debacle as shown in WC 2023 in India.[2] Let’s however pause a bit. Over-reacting by taking a ‘bull in a china shop’ stance will cause more damage!

The reality was that SL Cricket was heading towards such a disaster some years ago! Dropping players with proven ability just because of a dip in form has been key! Avishka F, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Matthews etc should never have been dropped earlier! It was unnecessary!

As Sunil Gavaskar always says: ‘Form is temporary; Class is permanent’ and ‘Talent alone is not enough without temperament’. What have the following SL batsmen posses in common? Michael Tissera, Anura Tennekoon, Roy Dias, Sidath Wettimuny, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene? They were all supremely talented but, above all, had awesome temperament and significantly possessed brilliant batting techniques.

The last and supremely vital attribute stems from great coaching at school level. Also aforementioned greats of Cricket hailed from established schools in Colombo and Kandy that had legendary coaches.

Sadly, politics muddied the selection process some years ago when some Big Wigs wanted to shun players from established schools calling them elite and privileged. And so started a new trend of picking players from rural, disadvantaged backgrounds as long as they had batting skills; good hand eye coordination appeared to be the new norm. This new trend closed the door to well coached young players from so called better colleges in Colombo, Kandy. They were sadly lost to SL Cricket for a few decades.

Certainly Sanath Jayasooriya was an exception! Raw talent and brilliant ball hitting ability rocked the world of Cricket. However, Sanath J was, I repeat, an exception!

We need to establish an Academy of Cricket that attracts the best talent, skills, all round excellence and start grooming them from A-Z. They have to be able to read a game armed with Cricket sense.

The story goes how Kumar Sanga had this wonderful habit of reading all possible publications not only on Cricket, historical aspects, players of different eras, collection of anecdotes and significantly even other areas (apart from Law which he was a student) such as leadership, financial management and independence, public speaking, effective communication etc etc. No wonder Kumar Sanga emerged not only as one of the best ever in both batting and wicket keeping in all formats globally but also as a supremely effective public speaker and role model managerial leader – selected as President of MCC and now Head of The MCC Board to say nothing about Sanga’s flawless delivery as a much sought after English commentator in England!

Ok, let’s say that KS was an exception, a once in a lifetime cricketing personality! Let’s urge those think tanks to think differently. We have to move away from picking players from wherever just because they can ‘hit sixes’ at will or bowl at 145 Km/hr. Pause: what about their feet movements, how do they adapt to a swinging new ball; how to spot a Googly or arm ball or one that moves the ‘other way’ like how the legendary Virat Kohli copes!

Dilshan Madushanka is a great talent, spotted by champion bowler Vaas. Yet Vaas is not the bowling coach now; replaced by an unknown entity!! Get my drift? Also SL Cricket has to address aspects of diet, protein intake, life styles. We cannot win matches if some players however talented hit the bottle, smoke, love late night fun & frolic and more!! They have to be disciplined from the very inception where they are monitored professionally by HR experts, dietitians and even taught a global language such as English; how to respond to basic questions effectively and not utter nonsense!

In short, our absolutely gifted young talent must be first schooled and groomed before they ‘graduate’ from the ‘Academy of Cricket’ where merit and merit alone is considered apart from knowledge of the encyclopedia of Cricket to be able to discern the macro picture of any cricketing scenario like how Sanga did!

Of course, for Sanga there was no natural talent in his formative days; yet his never say die attitude became legendary – the first to hit the nets and the last to leave after hours of grueling, intense training! [3] Hard-work never killed anyone but made them professional in all aspects, period!

So ,as Lovers of SL Cricket, please do not take any hasty action now. We need to assess and indeed reassess all relevant aspects not only batting, bowling, fielding, physical fitness etc which are rudimentary; we need to get back to the Drawing Board and our medium and long term strategy in place. And we need the best balanced, sane professional [approach] sans any type of quick fix [that pursues] so called crackpot solutions!! As sincere, knowledgeable lovers of SL Cricket, we urge those entrusted with all relevant matters of SL Cricket to please alter course, NOW!

Yours in the name of SL Cricket,

Dyan Seneviratne”

A CAUTIONARY NOTE from Michael Roberts, 4 Novembe 2023

While Dyan is well-intentioned, his review is not conditioned by cricketing experience and its wisdom: batting debacles occur every now and then; while at least two of the Sri Lankan wickets, including that of Pathum Nissanka (perhaps our best batsman), were the result of lethal balls — virtually unplayable. Those are rare moments in cricket.

I also perceive a thread of upper-class Colombo school bias in his assessments of the local scenario. Sanath Jayasuriya is not an exception: the Southern Province, Negombo,  Moratuwa and Kandy have produced some excellent cricketers (not just Sanath Jayasuriya). Madushanka, in fact, is from the deep south; while Dinesh Chandimal is from Ambalangoda. It is also premature to write off Asalanka and Dananjaya De Silva from future selection.

PSAsalanka has captained Richmond College; and displayed admirable restrant in the face of Siraj’s verbal abuse and threatening in-your-face behaviour.

NOTE: the Indian bully-boy actions have already been criticised in this item: . This dimension is important: we must get our priorities right.


World Cup 2023: Mohammed Siraj stares down Charith Asalanka, Sri Lanka batter responds with a smile …………..India fast-bowler Mohammed Siraj tried to rile up Sri Lanka batter Charith Asalanka by staring him down and sledging him in their ongoing ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 encounter at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.  =


[1] This review essay was sent to me by Upali Obeyesekere  with this NOTE:   A well written article by a Retired Tea Planter and an Old Thomian – Dyan Seneviratne”.

[2] The reactions in Sri Lanka among the shakers and movers have been extreme and, in my view, over the top. The demands of time amist home duties and the TV screen have prevented me from ritem that display these reactions as well as my own thoughts on the batting collapse –thoughts seasoned by cricketing experience.

[3] Besides the coaching at Trinity College, I think Kumar  had the advanatage of (A) a tennis-playing elder sister and (B) coaching at tennis and cricket from DH “Hema” De Silva, who was Municipal Commissioner in Kandy i the 1980s and a cricketing ‘technician.


Filed under accountability, cricket selections, disparagement, life stories, performance, Sri Lankan cricket, sri lankan society, trauma

4 responses to “Reading Sri Lanka’s Cricketing Debacle at Mumbai

  1. EXTENDED EMAIL COMMENTS from Nandasiri Jasentuliyana in USA, (former Captain of Richmond college and a space scientist), 6 November 2023:
    “While the writer is rightly cautioning us against taking quick action and throwing the baby with the bathtub, throughout his essay, regretfully, he is displaying a bygone era elitism in limiting the ability to play cricket to players from Colombo and Kandy schools.

    I would like to encourage him to delve deeper into the rich history of cricket, where he will discover that talent and passion for the sport have transcended geographical boundaries. As early as the late 1920s and 30s, there were cricketers representing then Ceylon who hailed from Richmond College Galle, the oldest English school on the island, established way back in 1814, decades before the Colombo and Kandy schools were established.

    Cricket has evolved beyond exclusivity and has become a sport that unites individuals from diverse backgrounds, showcasing their skills on a global platform. It is essential to acknowledge and celebrate contributions from all corners of our society, whether from the Capital or the village. Let us embrace a more inclusive perspective that recognizes talent and potential regardless of location or background. By doing so, we ensure that cricket continues to flourish as a sport that brings people together and fosters unity among communities.

    As an example, over the years, we have witnessed numerous talented players from Galle and other outstation schools who have made their mark on the national team. Looking back at the 1960s, we remember the remarkable duo of D. H De Silva and his brother D.S. De Silva, who hailed from Mahinda College Galle. These exceptional players proudly represented Ceylon at that time. It’s fascinating to imagine what could have been if the owner of this blog, who captained St. Aloysius College, had pursued a career in cricket for Sri Lanka instead of embarking on a different path as a Rhodes Scholar and renowned academic.

    Fast forward to more recent times; within just the last three years, we have seen five talented players from Richmond representing Sri Lanka at the same time. This is a testament to the strong cricketing culture within not only Richmond and other Galle schools but also highlights the contribution of outstation schools to the national team. Regarding coaching, it is worth mentioning that Kumar Sangakkara had the privilege of being coached by esteemed Galle cricketer D.H., while Lionel Mendis, a highly sought-after coach from Richmond College, has also played a significant role recently. Hence, it would be incorrect to attribute the recent setbacks solely to the inclusion of players from outside Colombo and Kandy in the team.

    These examples demonstrate how Sri Lankan cricket has evolved over time, producing extraordinary talents across different regions. As we celebrate these achievements, let us continue to support our current players and nurture future stars who will bring glory to our nation irrespective of the location of their schools.” ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Nandasiri (Nandi)Jasentuliyana
    Former Deputy Director General, United Nations, and
    Director, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
    President Emeritus, International Institute of Space Law & Policy.

    “Nor must one bypass the fact that Dilshan Madushanka was educated at Hungama Central, which is between Tangalle and Hambantota in the south-east; while Dhananjaya’s initial schooling was at Debarawea near H’tota.
    Note, too, that Dharmasoka at Ambalangoa has nourished several good crickerters (the Nelson brothers in the 50s/60s and Chandimal in the present); while LASITH MALINGA is a Ratgama ÿakaa” (so to speak).”

  3. Nimal Dias-Jayasinha

    Cannot disagree
    Be that as it may , a Cricket Academy for Sri Lankan cricketers is needed which could have prevented the ‘ faux pas ‘ by Kusal Mendis re Kohli ‘s 49th ton. If Australia has such an appendage( Shane Warne’s Autobiography) we need it very much more

  4. For me the basic problem for our debacle is the lack of DISCIPLINE in every respect and lack of COMMITMENT. Nihal De Alwis

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