Marvan Atapattu (left) during his coaching days with Sri Lanka    AFP
Marvan Atapattu (left) during his coaching days with Sri Lanka AFP

Marvan Atapattu played in a golden era for Sri Lankan cricket. He represented Sri Lanka in 90 Tests, 268 ODIs and 2 T20Is in between 1990 and 2007. He is currently the mentor of Belagavi Panthers in Karnataka Premier League (KPL) and in an interview revealed that Sri Lankan cricket has hit rock bottom. Sri Lanka, who lost a home Test against Bangladesh earlier this year, did not go beyond group stage in the Champions Trophy. They lost an ODI series against Zimbabwe at home before India whipped them 9-0 at home across formats. ALSO READ: De Silva likely to take up advisory role to revamp SL cricket

In an interview with The Times of India, Atapattu minced no words: Out of desperation, we have tried many things without planning. We don t have the school cricket standards that we had in the past. For that matter, our club structure is not at its best. Maturity of players has been hampered because of the lack of competition at the domestic level. Also, there is a lot of fan pressure.

When that happens, the team management starts to constantly chop and change the national team. They will continue till they realise the sport is going nowhere. We don t get those brilliant 20-year-olds coming one after another anymore. Having said that, I think the quick-fix here would be to lift the competition at the club-level.

Atapattu feels the Sri Lankan cricketers need to ask themselves if they are good enough to compete against the likes of Kohlis, Jadejas and Ashwins. He also feels that Sri Lanka had not planned well for the transition phase and began comparing players with legendary figures too early: I always believed that a good leader gets somebody ready so that the boat runs smoothly when he leaves. If Sri Lanka have taken things for granted and thought the players will go on forever, then that s poor planning. We have invested on certain players like Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne but unfortunately very early in their careers we were trying to compare them to the like of Jayawardene, Sangakkara and Dilshan.

Atapattu strongly feels that Sri Lanka need to focus on their strengths and accept the reality. Sri Lanka Cricket should look to be patient and play to their strength: It will take some time for the team to find its winning mojo because of the current trend. Now, they don t give players confidence, instead, the constantly put pressure on the players on when the runs will flow. This won t work. You have to put a clear plan in place and change strategies as well.

For example, if you don t have quality spinners and fast bowling is our strength, accept it. And at home, play on tracks that suit your strengths. We have seen young talent in players like Kusal Mendis and Akila Dananjaya. It is now about having confidence in the players and giving them time to settle and shine.