Kolkata: The abyss that Sri Lankan cricket finds itself staring at is just getting deeper. It’s not about getting a 3-0 whitewash at the hands of England in the just-concluded T20 series or a poor start in the ODI series on Tuesday - but a collective failure on part of the current generation of players and Sri Lanka Cricket to run the show for more than five years now.
Bad times, they say, come on all fronts - and it was precisely the case when three of their mainline cricketers - Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka and wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella were caught roaming the streets of Durham after getting whipped in the final T20 international on Sunday night. A video of the trio, posted by a Sri Lankan fan, showed that they breached the Bio Bubble as they were seen hanging around the streets quite late at night - an offence which prompted the board to ban the trio and send them home immediately.
Now, such offences are not exactly unheard of in England - while pub brawls like the one between David Warner and Joe Root, or the Ben Stokes outrage, have become part of modern cricket folklore. However, in the current context of Sri Lanka’s losing streak on the field and the pandemic, such an offence was bound to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.
This was the island nation’s fifth straight series loss in a T20 international series since October 2020 and the country - which won the T20 World Cup as recently as in 2014 (not to speak of the fairytale success of Arjuna Ranatunga & Co in 1996 ICC World Cup) - now look like a pale shadow of their former selves. Just ponder this - the Lankans are now placed a dismal eighth, ninth and eighth in the Test, ODIs and T20I rankings, respectively with no remedy in sight.
The most embarrassing fallout of the 3-0 defeat, which betrayed a lack of will to fight on part of the team, was when their loyal fans decided to unfollow the team on social media. A far cry from the kind of loyalties which one has seen on display during the occasional visit there - where icons like a Ranatunga, Aravinda D Silva or Kumar Sangakkara are simply worshipped.
It’s a pity that Sri Lanka never really recovered from the twin-retirement of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara or Tillekeratne Dilshan which took place almost seven years ago. There was always going to be a period of transition, but few could’ve bargained for just how long and troublesome the path would be.
Dasun Shanaka, Angelo Mathews and Kusal Perera, who are part of the leadership group in white-ball cricket and were supposed to give direction to the team, have failed to lead by example. Neither has the inept administration, which failed to resolve the pay dispute on the eve of England tour, had been of much help.
While the national teams are floundering in all formats, the Lankan Premier League (LPL) is braced for it’s second season and will be held in July. However, unlike the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), which feeds a lot off the stature of their T20 giants like Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard or Andre Russell, the Lankans cannot boast of a single larger-than-life performer.
It’s not fun to be in the shoes of a Lankan fan these days!