- Series with England U-19 may be moved from SSC
By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
The Sri Lanka Under-19 squad that is preparing for the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean next year have been hampered by the inclement weather that continues to affect all cricket played around the country.
Soon after Sri Lanka had completed a successful five-match Under-19 ODI series against Bangladesh, which they won quite convincingly by a 5-0 margin, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) decided to allow the 20 players in the squad to go and play in the ongoing Major Limited-Over tournament for the various club sides. Unfortunately, the weather has been at its worst in the past few weeks, allowing little or no play at all in the matches, which meant that the majority of the Under-19 cricketers have hardly been able to use the opportunity afforded to them.
“I released all the players to go and play club cricket, but unfortunately with the weather they haven’t been able to play any cricket, but they are doing their gym and fitness work. The only thing is we couldn’t get any cricketing skills in after we broke away after the Bangladesh series,” said Sri Lanka Under-19 Head Coach Avishka Gunawardene.
“When the Bangladesh series was on, we planned it as such that we sent the message to all the clubs saying that these boys are available. The clubs contacted SLC and almost everyone was attached to a club. It is a setback for the players because at the end of the day I was banking on these boys playing. With the ongoing club season, if they had the opportunity to play these games it would have been good match experience, match practice and all that.
“Only a few of the players managed to play some cricket, basically if they had played, it would have been a maximum one game. I planned two practice games as well but that also got washed off,” lamented the coach.
“It’s a lost opportunity, because they could not get the much-needed match practice. When you are playing with first-class club sides it is always one notch higher. That plan didn’t work for us. You cannot control the weather that’s why we are planning to go into a bubble two days early hoping that we can get a few more sessions in before the England series. Originally, we were to go into the bubble around 20 November, but now we are planning to go into the bubble on 18 November,” Gunawardene said.
From the 20-member squad that played in the series against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka have made at least three changes with Anjala Bandara (St. Anthony’s College – Kandy), Ranuda Somaratne (Trinity College – Kandy) and Sakuna Liyanage (Royal College – Monaragala), replacing Harindu Jayasekera, Ryan Fernando and Lahiru Dewatage for the upcoming England series.
The five matches of the Under-19 ODI series commencing 30 November is scheduled to be played at the SSC, but due to the prevailing bad weather, there is a likelihood the matches may be moved to a different venue.