By Srian Obeyesekere
Sri Lanka’s Consultant Coach Mahela Jayawardene attributing poor player fitness levels as one of the major drawbacks to the team’s poor world cup performance is certainly an eye opener in an era of sophisticated technology.
Soon after Sri Lanka’s disastrous world cup campaign where the former 1996 world champions won a mere two games versus England and the Netherlands, Jayewardene, the former Lankan captain who stepped into Sri Lanka’s expert coaching gamut a few years ago, addressing the local media said, “For me the biggest thing is the fitness. What I noticed over the course of a tournament like this, because of our fitness, the fatigue got into us, and the performance died down.”
He went on to note that “From the first game to the last game, we saw guys make a lot more mistakes. That happens with mental and physical fatigue and then the execution and the concentration lacks because of that.”
While granting that the team lacked the extra yardstick of match winning skill, Jayawardene contended that most of the players were still in their early twenties.
He had a message for Sri Lankan fans to be patient and have faith in a process that is taking shape. “People jumping and shouting and screaming have to realise what one-day cricket is, and how we’re going to compete going forward. The plans are being set, we just need to be patient and work harder in areas where we need to improve.”
“It’s a process that we have to trust and be patient with. This is a skillful group. The expectations I understand. I think the fans, they all know that when we go for a World Cup, we’re going to do well, perform well. But that expectation has to be realistic, along with the plans.”
While noting that fan expectations ran high during a world cup extravaganza, Jayawardene emphasized that such expectations had to be realistic along with the plans.
Sri Lanka escaped finishing at the bottom of the table because of their Net Run Rate while the noteworthy bright spot was the wicket-taking performance of speedster Dilshan Madushanka who claimed 21 wickets.