“I specifically challenged the test bowlers to be hot on their first 12 balls”

Chris Silverwood is no stranger to Sri Lanka’s weaknesses. After all, it was just over a year ago that he brought his England side to the shores of Lanka and swept the home side 2-0 in a Test series. But now, some 15 months later, he’s on the other end, tasked with fixing the same weaknesses he so brutally exploited.

Of course, in the year that followed, Silverwood’s predecessor Mickey Arthur improved the team’s fitness and field standards, while Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga became two of the best bowlers in the world. But the results remain as inconsistent as ever, largely due to an ongoing inconsistency with the bat.

Unsurprisingly, this was the first area of ​​concern identified by Silverwood when diagnosing Sri Lanka’s problems.

“We want more batting discipline, more batting patience and some scoring intent as well,” Silverwood said, speaking to the media for the first time since. assume the role of head coach.

“It’s about scoring runs and that’s what we want the batting roster to do. I’ll try to instill confidence in the boys so they can come out and build their innings and score big runs, definitely in the early innings. , and give us something to play for. It’s not rocket science.

Not rocket science indeed, but certainly a problem that many other coaches over the past decade (11 to be exact) have failed to solve. But, as they say, identifying the problem is half the battle, and Silverwood wasted little time pondering solutions to Sri Lanka’s batting woes.

“I’ve spent the last two weeks digging into the stats, seeing how we can improve. One of them is intention to score, we’ve got to give hitters the confidence to go out there and don’t be afraid to go out. This is not to say that we have to be reckless, what I’m saying is that we also have to be “smart”. But I want them to be positive, I want them to be brave. If we take that attitude, the point rates will go down and the strike rates will go up, which can only be a good thing.

“I encouraged the guys to be very specific when they train, to think about who they’re going up against and to train for those situations. Rather than just training on a massive scale, whenever you come out of that net, you come out a better player than you came in. To do that, you need to consider the challenges you have in front of you, then experiment, find a way, build your strengths, and obviously work on the things you can. -be not as strong.”

Silverwood’s forte, however, is in his work with fast bowlers, having been one himself during his playing days. he took office, he has already sought to imprint his mark on the rhythm of the team.

“I specifically challenged the test bowlers to be hot on their first 12 balls, because as we all know the first 12 balls can have a real impact on your game and put pressure on batters.

“It’s about instilling the discipline that we can do good things for long periods of time and not get bored doing them. Hitting your lines and your lengths, finding spots in a given field and being able to live there, and then you bring in the skills like swing sewing etc and all of our guys are swinging it too which is great so it’s just about putting all those skills together and being disciplined enough to live in a field, where you can exhaust the opposition if need be.

“It will be a gradual process, but if you sow the seed and let it grow, over a period of time, you will find that people can do it.”

Silverwood’s first challenge will be the Sri Lankan tour of Bangladesh later this month, with the team due to fly out on May 8. However, the tour won’t have the luxury of bringing in Chameera, Lahiru Kumara or the recently retired Suranga Lakmal. This means that Sri Lanka are bringing a fairly inexperienced fast bowling unit with them. Silverwood, however, sees the bright side.

“From my point of view, the fact that they are young means that they will assimilate information more quickly, and perhaps also try new things. The response has been excellent so far.”

During the Silverwood briefing, flanked by his assistant coach Naveed Nawaz and team manager Mahinda Halangode, also revealed that he spoke to several former national team coaches before accepting the job, so he had a clear idea of ​​what to expect. of this work. He also acknowledged that communication will present a challenge, which Nawaz will no doubt play a pivotal role in helping to overcome.

“Of course, one of the challenges for me will be communication. I have to make sure that the plans I’m trying to put together can be properly passed on to the boys. Obviously Naveed has helped me brilliantly so far. now.. Likewise, I have to be aware that the way I see things is not how anyone else sees them, so I also have to be aware of how the culture works, and i have a good experience with it when i was working in Zimbabwe Overall what we have here is very exciting.

“I want the Sri Lankan flair, I want the boys to express themselves, I don’t want them to be someone else, I want them to be themselves and fly the flag of Sri Lanka.”

Nawaz, who had also been considered for the role of head coach, will also oversee the team’s batting. The former Sri Lankan cricketer also clarified his role, speaking of his desire to get to know the players better over the coming weeks and months, so he can help them reach their potential.

“Two-way clarity is important to minimize any grievances players might have. Also create a platform to discuss players’ personal and tactical issues,” Nawaz said. “My role will be to act partly as a mentor, partly as a friend, and at the same time forcing the tactical changes they need to improve their game.

“It’s a great opportunity to work with someone like Chris who has a wealth of experience. Obviously I applied for the head coach position, but I still see the assistant coach role as an opportunity. As long as we’re both on the same page – to restore Sri Lankan cricket to its lost glory – that’s all that matters.”

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