Island Cricket

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Sri Lanka are caught out by retirements | Times Online

Times Online: "The last few players from the island’s golden era are about to retire and there look to be few successors on the way" writes Simon Wilde for the Times Online.

Once this mighty trio[Sanath,Chaminda and Muttiah] are gone, what will happen? Who will take the wickets for Sri Lanka? Who will give them the rocket-propelled starts at the beginning of an innings that have become their trademark?

Such great cricketers are hard to replace at the best of times, but in Sri Lanka there is precious little evidence that any form of succession planning is in place. Shortly before retiring last month, former captain Marvan Atapattu accused Sri Lanka’s administrators of incompetence. It is hard not to agree with that view. There is an academy in Colombo designed to nurture the next generation of talent, but too many of Sri Lanka’s Test cricketers are drawn from select schools in Colombo and Kandy.

Anyone from outside this privileged circle has a real battle to gain recognition. Jayasuriya, who grew up in the southern fishing town of Matara, was one of the first to do so, but his success did not greatly smooth the path for those who followed. As late as 2001, Lasith Malinga who hails from the southern seaside village of Rathgama, where he played beach cricket until he was 17 found himself knocking on a closed door when he travelled to the capital Colombo for a national under19 trial. It was two more years before he was accepted.

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