Dubai: Former seamer Chaminda Vaas has defended the Sri Lankan team after they lost the two-Test series and narrowly missed out on a berth in the World Test Championship final, saying the nation needs to play Tests more frequently.
The Islanders lost the first Test by two wickets off the last ball in a thrilling contest against hosts New Zealand, thereby handing the final spot to India.
“It’s a good Test between two teams who played good cricket. As a cricketing nation playing five Tests in a year is not enough. The players need to play more Tests to get the confidence. They played this series after a five-month gap and still they performed well. Everyone had the hunger to play in the World Test Championship final and gave their 100 per cent. I am proud of them as our Test cricket has moved up to a different level,” the 49-year-old left-arm pacer told Gulf News during the inauguration of the Mentors Academy, by JMR Sporting, at GEMS Modern Academy in Dubai.
The veteran pacer with 400 ODI wickets is happy to play the mentors’s role and help the budding players develop their skills, leadership qualities, teamwork, confidence and the winning mindset. He feels Sri Lanka need to strengthen their domestic circuit to have a bigger talent pool, that will form a strong base for the country’s growth in international cricket.
Sri Lank have been having a topsy-turvy run in recent times. The underdogs won the Asia Cup held in UAE last year, before bowing out in the first round of the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.
“As a cricketing nation, we need to have consistent performances. Winning one tournament and dropping down the other is not good. We need to play competitive cricket and our domestic cricket has to be strong, club and school structures,” he said, adding: “We have so much talent, we need to develop these cricketers into the next level. We could achieve that by motivating them with financial benefit.
“Players like Wanindu Hasaranga has been performing well, Dasun Shanaka, as a captain and as a batter, has to develop his batting skills to take his game to the next level. Avishka and Kusal Mendis have also been playing well. But everyone has a role and you have to be committed to it and have to be consistent all the time and give 100 per cent to country and Sri Lankan cricket.”
Sri Lanka have been known as a team of winners, depending more on a collective effort that took them to several glories in the past, including the 1996 World Cup. But things have changed now, but cricket has undergone a major change these days with the numerous franchise leagues making it difficult for them have the same camaraderie as in the past.
“Those days we didn’t have any egos and played as a team that bonded together and enjoyed others’ success. We helped each other and that’s why we were part of the one winning team. Nowadays, it is different, still being a sportsman, you got to be humble in this life. Being honest is most important thing. You can learn so much from others and try to be the best person you are.
Different scene now
Vaas has had a tremendous, injury-free career, and the pacer feels it is difficult to replicate such feats with so much cricket being played now.
“The amount of cricket these players a playing is huge. Only few fast bowlers can all three formats. As a fast bowler, you need to have the discipline, train properly and have the desire, then you can play for a long time. Fast bowling is not an easy job, one needs to do strength-conditioning, skills, running and have to bowl a number of overs. You can’t ask bowlers to bowl five overs and stop, you need to bowl more overs,” Vaas said and added that he would bowl for one and half hours and between 12 to 15 overs during training.
“But it is totally different now. You can’t ask younger generations to bowl that long as you play a lot of cricket, not only bowling but you have to do fielding as well. A fast bowler you will never play 100 per cent fit,” he concluded.