By Amindha de Alwis
Consistency in batting positions will be the key priority for the national side going forward, Sri Lanka Head Coach Mickey Arthur said yesterday, as his team prepares for the limited over series against England starting later this month.
Arthur said a clear plan had been devised, in which a couple of the team’s traditionally top-order batsmen – which the team has a surfeit of – will be tasked with batting in the middle order and making those spots their own.
“We have got to settle down on a batting order as soon as we can. We cannot be jumping around having players bat in so many different positions because that just creates confusion,” Arthur said yesterday.
“I have got a clear plan on who is going to drop down to the middle. If you look at KJP (Kusal Perera), Danushka (Gunathilaka) and Avishka (Fernando) at one, two and three, that is pretty sound, but we need to drill down and get four, five and six, batting comfortably in their roles,” Arthur remarked.
He elaborated that strike rotation and intensity were two areas which the batsmen have been working hard on since their arrival in England.
“We got caught a little bit through the middle overs, in Bangladesh. We were only getting 130-135 runs in that phase and that is certainly an area for us to improve on. Strike rotation and intensity at the crease are areas that we have really worked on in this training block,” Arthur said.
He further said that the side’s spin bowling department is in a good space currently with Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Ramesh Mendis and Praveen Jayawickrama all on tour as options to compliment Wanindu Hasaranga’s leg-spin.
“I am really comfortable that our spin-bowling department has variety and is good enough to restrict and clamp the opposition through the middle. In England here, I think conditions will determine whether we go wrist-spin or finger-spin. Wanindu (Hasaranga) will definitely be playing and then we will have to look at what our other bowling combinations are going to be,”
The Head Coach stated that the English outfit who are defending World Cup champions and the current number one ranked T20I side will be strong competition in the upcoming limited-overs games and added that the team had the opportunity to witness a few of their players in action from their hotel rooms at Old Trafford.
“They (England) are a wonderful white-ball team and even though they have not played much as a team, all their players have been playing in the Vitality Blast.”
“We were lucky enough to sit on the balcony here and watch two of Lancashire’s games where we saw Liam Livingstone, we saw Jos Buttler, we saw a lot of their players come through and play. I saw Bairstow (on television) get a hundred last night, so all their white-ball players are now playing in their domestic competition and have been doing so for the last week or so they will be ready, and it is a massive challenge for our young team, but it is a wonderful opportunity as well for us,” Arthur expressed.
Sri Lanka’s tour will get underway on June 23 with the first of three T20Is to be played at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.