Sri Lanka’s bowling coach Chaminda Vaas (left)
By Leonard Ratnayake from Cardiff, Wales
Sri Lanka’s chances of having any success during their tour to England in the white ball series will mostly depend on how well their bowlers contain the English batsmen.
Sri Lanka will take on England on Wednesday at the Sophia Gardens Cricket Stadium in Cardiff Wales at 6:30 p.m. venue time, which is 11 p.m. in Sri Lanka, for their first encounter of the three-match T20 international series. The second match will follow the next day at the same time at the same venue. The third and final will be at Ageas Bowl in Southampton starting at 7 p.m. Sri Lankan time.
While Sri Lankan batters have shown to be among the runs in the intra-squad practice games in England, it seems the bowling department is yet to acclimatise to the local conditions. The responsibility of training the Sri Lankan bowling contingent into a formidable attack against the Englishmen has been bestowed upon their world champion bowler and now head bowling coach Chaminda Vaas, who is optimistic that his squad has got a few surprises and different tricks to tackle the English batters.
In the squad Sri Lanka has six specialist seam-bowlers with Dushmantha Chameera, Isuru Udana, Asitha Fernando, Binura Fernando, and Shiran Fernando and four spinners in the group - Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakana, Akila Dananjaya and Praveen Jayawickrama. All-rounders Dasun Shanaka and Chamika Karunaratne also bowl seam apart from Ishan Jayaratne Jayaratne and Dhananjaya Lakshan.
“We have just finished a good training session this morning at Sophia Gardens, and I am happy that the boys were very keen to condition themselves to the asking task,” said Vaas.
Vaas, who is taking care of the 18 bowlers on tour, said that they have identified which areas each and every bowler needs to improve in order to become successful in English pitches, and that they will be working hard in the coming days before the two matches. “We have a young and talented bowling unit, and we would like to give a few surprises to the English batsmen who have not played against some of them,” explained Vaas.
On their last tour of India, England scored over 160 in all five T20 encounters against the hosts, while in the ODIs against the same opposition they surpassed 320 in two out of three matches. Playing in home conditions, England will be a tough team to restrict to competitive scores.
However, the Sri Lankan bowlers have the advantage of a bowling coach who has the most experience among Sri Lankans when it comes to bowling in English conditions. Apart from numerous tours to England, Vaas has played for Hampshire and Worcestershire cricket clubs in the first decade of the century and boasts several successful performances in containing batsmen. “They are mostly bouncy wickets, it’s mostly about bowling to a correct line and length, you should have a good discipline and focus to bowl on English pitches,” Vaas recalled of his good days.
Prior to the Indian tour, England visited Sri Lanka for a two-match Test series and have already had the providence of facing some of Sri Lanka’s bowlers on tour. In the two Tests earlier this year, English batters faced Lasith Embuldeniya, Ramesh Mendis, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dasun Shanaka, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal and Asitha Fernando – with Embuldeniya the most threatening, though English cricket fans will miss him in action due to the left-arm spinner nursing an injury.
“It is a different ball game totally from Test cricket to white ball cricket, they will definitely have a different and an aggressive approach. We have to have good control in our deliveries. There is truly little room for error,” said Vaas elaborating on the tough task ahead for his bowlers. He repeated that only proper focus and disciplined bowling will give you good results in English conditions.
The champion bowler added that he is happy to be back and working with Sri Lanka Cricket, with his aim being to mould a few world-class fast bowlers in the Sri Lankan team in the near future. “It is all about commitment and sacrifice; we have got talent, as coaches we always look forward to nurture them share our experiences, but it is up to the players themselves to grab the best use of the opportunity.”
In his hay-day Vaas, who focused more on accuracy in line and length than speed to become the most successful bowler that Sri Lanka had produced, did in fact refuse repeated stints of playing English county cricket as he wanted to focus on national commitments and to stay clear of injuries.