Marvan Atapattu: Peaking at the right time is important; India is a classic example

Sri Lankan coach Marvan Atapattu talks about his team’s match against England on Sunday(ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Full coverage)


Q: Are there matters of concern for Sri Lanka?
Marvan Atapattu (MA):  The catching. When we started off with two Test matches, I think a catch here at the Basin Reserve cost us a Test match. Having said that, we have had good times, brilliant times, and we have had times that we weren’t very happy about. I think striking a balance on a long tour like this, it’s important that we manage people and keep them fresh so we have taken a step forward, giving people a rest, trying to have them fresh for games like for tomorrow. We are still working on getting certain people, got to understand we have a few wicket keepers and all that in the side, but having said that, we certainly have room for improvement in that area.

Q. Is there anyone in the current England team in this form of cricket who Sri Lanka would fear?
MA: The format is such, it can be anyone; any one of their top seven batsmen. They have a fantastic seaming bowling line-up there. It could be anyone. As I said, the format is such that we’ve got to guard against being complacent. We’ve just got to play the best cricket that we can on the day.

Q: Having lost the first game to New Zealand and then having a tough game with Afghanistan and now having beaten Bangladesh quite convincingly, that the team is moving towards a stage where you are playing your best cricket that you’re capable of?

The last two games have been good for us, although  it was a very close game against Afghanistan. Having said that, we would expect our No. 8 to score the way he scored in the Dunedin game. Yes, we would like to take game by game at this stage. We know in World Cups every game is important, and peaking at the right time is the most important thing. We as a group believe in that, and we think game by game, and hopefully we have a good result tomorrow.

Q: You’ve watched England play during the tournament so far. What do you think their strength is?

They are a balanced side. It is just that I don’t think they can be very happy about how things have unrolled for them in the recent past. Having said that, they have qualified for the finals against Australia in Australia. That’s always a positive. Having mentioned about peaking at the right time, I think India is a classic example. In terms like this, victory against a good opposition, a good performance would obviously boost, and I’m sure England is looking forward to that. It can be their batting; they’ve got some terrific batsmen in their first seven, and if not, they’ve got the best seaming attack on the day.

Q: One of the things about Sri Lankan cricket for a long time has been the way your players go out and express themselves. How do you create an environment where they can just feel like they can go and enjoy themselves?

It’s a lapse in the coaching, I guess! (laughter.) Natural talent is something that we always encourage. It’s not all about technique. If somebody has the flair and the confidence to go and do it on the big stage, in a big competition, without any fear of failure, we always encourage that.

Q: Is that easy to do, to build that confidence in players?
MA: With the skill levels that they have, with the different skills that they bring, it’s almost easier because you aren’t copying anybody or you are not looking to see what the other is doing in terms of technique, what is he still thinking, what is his preparation.

Q: You might have seen AB de Villiers’ innings last night. That’s the second time he’s done something similar in the past month or so. We saw Rohit Sharma make 260 against your team a few months ago. Have we reached the limit of what is possible now in terms of fast scoring, or is there even more to come do you think?

: First of all, I think I always believed scoring big is almost a habit. When you start winning, you keep on winning. Same with people getting fifers and 200s. Kumar Sangakkara is a classic example. I reckon there are ways and means that people could do it in a bit different way. I wouldn’t be surprised if the score line stretches a bit more even.

Q: Do you see a 300 in a One-Day International?

MA: You never know. I don’t know. I don’t want you to print something and be a fool of it, but you never know. See, now the average score at the 35‑over mark you are looking at around 200, 220. It could be stretched for sure. It could be stretched for sure. It’s the mindset of a player and a team, the unit.

Q: The conditions are different here. Do you consider that?
MA: Certainly, yes.

Q: Eoin Morgan said yesterday he hopes the ball swings as much as it did for Tim Southee last week when they beat England. Would that be a problem for you guys? Do you think your guys would mind the swinging ball?

: Well, no batsman likes the ball swinging too much. At the end of the day, it’s the skill Southee had. Not too many bowlers in that line-up, apart from Southee, swung the ball on that day. If it swings, I think any batsman would struggle. He won’t be in his comfort zone.

Q: With Jeevan Mendis ruled out, in a sense you are more dependent now on Rangana Herath. Are you pleased with the way he’s been bowling so far?

MA: Rangana has been good, but it’s different conditions for him. Obviously the ball hasn’t turned as much as it does, but having said that, our seven‑match series against New Zealand, he was a big factor when we won, the two games that we won, so on the day, on the wicket, conditions may change.

Q: Upul Tharanga has been brought into the side. Do you intend on playing him in tomorrow’s game? If so, what position do you consider him that he should play?

MA: We have brought him here as a replacement for Jeevan knowing that he can bat anywhere with the experience and the stats that he has given us earlier. If we play him, it could be from Nos. 1 to 7 anyplace.

Q: You haven’t trained today. Is that just to give the fellows a break?
MA: Yes, we have had a tough day yesterday, traveling from Melbourne, early morning flight, got here late afternoon with a two hour time difference. I think fatigue management is important as getting the guys on the field.

Courtesy: ICC