Sri Lanka interim head coach Jerome Jayaratne has slammed the team’s fielding standards, describing it as “the worst in Asia.”
“We are now the worst fielding side in Asia, we were never behind Pakistan but now we have gone behind them,” Jayaratne told The Nation. “India proved that they were better than us and even Bangladesh are fielding better than us.”
Jayaratne, who was appointed in the stopgap role earlier this month following Marvan Atapattu’s resignation, was equally critical of Sri Lanka’s performance in other departments. He cited below-par fitness levels as the chief cause of the team’s problems.
“Other than the bowling which is holding the team together, the batting, fielding and fitness has let us down,” Jayaratne said. “It’s a lot to do with the fitness levels. The way our guys are fielding they are carrying excess weight and we are in shambles.”
Jayaratne, however, was confident these issues would be addressed by English trainer Michael Main, who has been hired for two years by Sri Lanka Cricket. Main, Jayaratne said, had laid down specific targets to be achieved by players in a particular time frame, failing which “they are going to be in trouble.”
“Michael gave us a mind blowing presentation and showed where we are and where we need to get to,” he said. “What he tried to do in the first three months is he didn’t try to turn things around but observed everything. Now he has decided how he is going to take this forward and at the presentation he was given a full green light to go ahead in whatever he wants to do.
“I have a very strong belief if we give Michael about four to six months he can turn things around. He has got the players to sign documents like signing a contract that they need to reach desired targets in particular time duration otherwise they are going to be in trouble.
“He has assessed them and given them time targets, some they cannot do before the West Indies series but definitely you can see the boys are working towards that. Everybody’s got individual programs and targets and they have taken it seriously.”
While Jayaratne has been involved extensively with cricket in Sri Lanka, this is his first stint as coach of the senior team. He said he was surprised when SLC interim committee chairman Sidath Wettimuny had asked him to take charge.
“I was asked to stand in as stopgap coach for an interim period until they found a coach from overseas,” Jayaratne said. “I wouldn’t have said yes if I wasn’t up to it.”