Women’s cricket in Sri Lanka is currently on a knife’s edge or the pundits might argue on a volcano and England’s team now in the island for a four-match series could be guilty of setting off a tripwire that could lead to an explosion of an issue that was always waiting to happen.
But to avert a possible worst-case scenario, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) which also takes care of the women’s game has turned its back on former Test player Lanka de Silva, the coach and team captain Chamari Atapattu who have both been replaced by a former men’s uncapped player Hemantha Devapriya and new skipper Inoka Ranaweera.
De Silva and Atapattu were at the helm when Sri Lanka was ground to a bruising halt with a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the Australian women in September this year.
Devapriya himself could not find his feet when the four-match series between Sri Lanka and England was launched in Colombo on Tuesday evening other than say he needed some time to figure out what was taking place.
“I did not have much time to get started, but I know it will be a challenging task and we are ready to face it,” said Devapriya, one of several new-old faces to surface with the change of office-bearers at Sri Lanka Cricket.
The beleaguered women’s team is now made to bank on the assumption that if they cut off the frills and make less mistakes they could have some chance of turning tables on the English women and save the day for SLC which does not want to admit fully that a wide and game-changing plan is needed to come out of the abyss.
“We have brought in some youngsters and there could be a change (of fortunes), but when it comes to investment we have to definitely take the game to grass roots level and that might take some time (to show results),” said Sri Lanka Cricket’s Chief Executive Ashley de Silva.
The series against England is also a preparation for the players ahead of two major events, the Asia and World Cups and one of the last throws at resurrecting a team whose players pick up annual awards catwalk style but done very little to pay back its employer.
None though will be able to figure out how much time it will take for women’s cricket in Sri Lanka to hobnob with the best teams like Australia, New Zealand and England while SLC has also been accused of being the main cause or stumbling block given the sex scandals, extortion and backstabbing politics that have throttled the team in recent times.
Some parents are even refusing to encourage their daughters to play cricket which is perhaps the only sport they see that offers them no guarantee of a safe passage for their offspring.
To reverse the tide retired women’s players contend that a foreign coach could be one of the solutions if the services of a woman to coach the players cannot stave off sexual predators to reassure parents.
Like her predecessor, Ranaweera’s head may also be on the chopping line and can only hope that the team she commands will be able to provide the sparks on the field of play to avoid another fire-out.
“Our target should be to cut down on our mistakes on the field and make use of the home advantage. This will give us confidence to take up the challenge,” said Ranaweera.