Former Sri Lanka cricketer and current commentator Russel Arnold has claimed that Sri Lankan greats Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene are irreplaceable.
In an interview with the PTI, said, “We are not going to replace big players like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, or even Tilakratne Dilshan. They cannot be replaced as they are once in a lifetime players,” Arnold said and added, “If we ask the current players to be like them, then you are asking too much and would be putting too much pressure on them. I think that’s the biggest mistake we are making, looking for replacements and putting undue pressure on the younger players. We have to use what we have. They are different players. You have to identify their strengths, let them blossom in their own time and allow them to develop their own styles”.
Sri Lankan cricket have a had a poor run of form and Arnold claimed that injuries and inconsistency are to blame. “Well, it has been a real struggle because Sri Lanka have just not been able to get on a roll or been able to identify a team. It has been tough, and lots of injuries have contributed to this,” he said and added, “On the other hand poor form of senior players has been a contributor as well and when injuries are put together, the transition has just not been able to move forward. If you look at this Indian series, we have had two captains in the Tests and three so far in the ODIs. We had another one in the Champions Trophy, so that’s how problematic it has been.”
“Talent wise I don’t see there is a problem. So once the new selection committee irons out the team, and get some continuity, they will be able to move forward,” Arnold said and added, “It’s not just about having good players, you also need them to play as a team. You look at India – yes, they have match winners but they also know each other’s role and they complement each other.
“For example, MS Dhoni is a match winner himself but he worked with Bhuvneshwar Kumar to win a match. It takes time to gel as a team. Sri Lanka have really struggled and have been unable to go forward as a team,” he added.
Urging the fans to be patient, Arnold said, “At the end of the day, it is about handling that pressure and frustrations, whether in the crowd or as players. We love entertainment but a string of losses and performances have hurt the public.” and added, “If we talk about players controlling the variables and handling pressure, the spectators also need to do the same. It is easy to say that they have to get behind the team but we are all humans and we like good things. For Sri Lanka, it is time to be patient, a bit calmer in our expectations and to identify a block of players to go forward with. We need to make some decisions and hopefully the injury crisis will also settle.,” Arnold said.