‘Current Sri Lanka cricketers can’t replace Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene’
Sri Lanka recently lost all the matches in the Test and ODI series against India at home. Their current players should not be expected to replicate the performance of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, according to Russell ArnoldUpdated: Sep 04, 2017 20:22 IST
Former Sri Lanka cricketer Russel Arnold feels legendary Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene are irreplaceable and it would be a mistake to expect the current crop of players to fill in their big shoes.
“We are not going to replace big players like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, or even Tilakratne Dilshan. They cannot be replaced as they are once in a lifetime players,” Arnold said.
“If we ask the current players to be like them, then you are asking too much and would be putting too much pressure on them. I think that’s the biggest mistake we are making, looking for replacements and putting undue pressure on the younger players.
“We have to use what we have. They are different players. You have to identify their strengths, let them blossom in their own time and allow them to develop their own styles,” he added.
Sri Lankan cricket have seen a massive downfall in the past six months or so. They were unable to beat Bangladesh at home across formats and then they failed to qualify for the Champions Trophy semi-finals.
The islanders then lost to Zimbabwe at home in the ODI series before being whitewashed by India in the Test in the ongoing tour.
Injuries and inconsistencies
Arnold feels injuries and inconsistency are to be blamed for the down slide.
“Well, it has been a real struggle because Sri Lanka have just not been able to get on a roll or been able to identify a team. It has been tough, and lots of injuries have contributed to this,” he said.
“On the other hand poor form of senior players has been a contributor as well and when injuries are put together, the transition has just not been able to move forward. If you look at this Indian series, we have had two captains in the Tests and three so far in the ODIs. We had another one in the Champions Trophy, so that’s how problematic it has been,” Arnold said.
Senior pro Angelo Mathews gave up captaincy after the loss to Zimbabwe, and Arnold believes Sri Lanka need firm leadership from senior players in this hour of crisis.
“It all comes down to leadership, maintaining a team culture and discipline. Even the players need to look at themselves and see what more they can do to be better players and improve as a team,” said Arnold.
Talking about pacer Lasith Malinga’s, he said: “We know he is down in pace, a bit down in fitness as well and he is not the bowler he was. But he is still better than the rest.
“It is unfortunate that he has not been among wickets. If he finds his rhythm, he will probably last for for another year or so, maybe even until the next World Cup in 2019.”