Sri Lanka’s lack of such a bowler was quite evident in the recently concluded three ODI matches against New Zealand where the hosts ran up totals in excess of 300 to win the series 3-0.
“Our wicket-taking potential is less it’s a big loss for us because Akila Dananjaya is not playing. He is one bowler who used to take two to three wickets in the middle overs. Dananjaya took a lot of wickets this year and against India he took six wickets and almost won the match for us,” said chairman of cricket selectors Ashantha de Mel.
“We are sending him to India for testing and hopefully we can get him cleared as quickly as possible. We are also trying to get Tharindu Kaushal also cleared so we can have the option of playing them in the World Cup. Both turn the ball. (Lakshan) Sandakan is there at the moment but you need at least one off spinner or someone who can come in the middle and spin the ball and take wickets. We need wicket takers in the middle overs then the end overs become easy,” he said.
“In the entire one-day series our spinner got only one wicket, whereas their spinner got nine. Every time he is picking up a wicket in the middle overs. Because of the wickets falling the run rate slows down.”
Sri Lanka’s spin bowling coach Piyal Wijetunge said that Dananjaya had undergone the necessary changes to his bowling action as required by the ICC and that he will be playing his first competitive match since undergoing the change on Friday when Colts take on BRC at Havelock Park in a Major League match.
“Akila had to undergo only minor changes to his off spinner which was reported to be four degrees above the permitted level of 15 degrees.
He has successfully undergone the change but we want to see him play in a match before sending him for clearance,” said Wijetunge.
Dananjaya’s action was reported during the first Test against England at Galle in November last year.
Wijetunge said that off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal whose doosra delivery was reported to be illegal following the third Test against India in 2015 had undergone “severe” changes and remodeled his action.
“He continues to play for Moors SC where he has been amongst the wickets. Akila and Tharindu may go probably to Chennai within a fortnight or so to get their remodeled actions cleared,” Wijetunge said.
POOR QUALITY PITCHES THE BANE
De Mel blamed the poor quality of pitches prepared for domestic cricket for the inability of the Lankan bowlers to take wickets on flat batting tracks as they got in their matches in New Zealand.
“We are not preparing good wickets in Sri Lanka and our bowlers are not used to bowling on good wickets. Our spinners are getting wickets at home easily, they don’t have to spin the ball, all they have to do is just bowl and the ball spins. None of our bowlers are putting revs on the ball, they are just bowling it quick and fast. On good batting pitches you need to give revs to the ball and be able get some turn otherwise it is difficult. Our spinners are bowling on pitches that are turners and when they come up against good pitches they are not spinning the ball and are unable to take wickets,” pointed out De Mel.
“We have to develop our spinners. Akila Dananjaya is not there, (Rangana) Herath has retired, Dilruwan (Perera) is more of a Test bowler. At the moment we have a huge vacuum of trying to find good spinners. We don’t have a single leg-spinner. (Jeffrey) Vandersay has broken his shoulder and the only other guy who is there is Seekkuge Prasanna but he doesn’t spin the ball. He is more of a roller. On good batting wickets unless you have spinners we will struggle to take wickets,” he said.
Speaking further De Mel said, “The other problem we our having is our seamers they are also not taking wickets. These guys have over 100 coaches surely they must be able to train them to bowl a proper line.
In ODI cricket the batsmen will go after you so you must learn to counter them. The most important thing you must be able to get some deviation at least in the first few overs, move the ball a bit. These fast bowlers if you watch them closely are a little bit more square arm. If you come square arm the seam is not going to hit the ground most of the time you find the leather hitting the ground. The seam movement is less.
“Dushmantha Chameera and Kasun Rajitha I was looking at their footage about six months ago and now their arms have dropped by about 25 degrees. I don’t know what the reason is. These guys when they play the short format they lower their arms so that they can get the ball not to bounce but to skid off the surface, that affects their bowling.
You look at the Indian fast bowlers all have high arm action, Shami, Bumrah and Ishant their wrist position is perfect. The ball once it leaves their hand the seam goes straight. We are having a very wobbly seam and most of the time the leather is hitting the ground. We are not getting that lateral movement and the control. When you are square arm your control is less,” he said.
LAKMAL FOR ODIs
De Mel was of the view that Suranga Lakmal who plays only Test cricket should be included in the ODI side. “I feel that Suranga is better off playing ODI cricket as well. Before we came they had said that he can’t bowl in the last 10 overs and all that. I think he is one of the bowlers who can take wickets. He is a bowler who seams and he has got a better action. I want to suggest that for the South African ODIs we pick him. In England he will be a vital asset.”
On the batting front De Mel observed that our batsmen must learn to convert 40s and 50s into big hundreds.
“Our batsmen have the flair and the talent but not the ability to build scores. They must know how to milk the runs and not take too many risks when you are in. The potential is there we now have to turn potential into action. If we are to win we have to come out of this and perform. Last year on an average we didn’t get more than 250 in five games, in the first two games against New Zealand we got to 300 or thereabouts. There is an improvement in our batting. When you play on good wickets don’t forget they are also going to score, we must be able to cope up with that,” De Mel said.