Chaminda Vaas, winner at the 1996 men’s Cricket World Cup, believes that Sri Lanka have some ‘”special” cricketers, but that togetherness will be vital for tournament success.
Vaas, one of the most iconic player in Sri Lanka cricket history who played 322 one-day internationals for his country, taking 400 wickets, is now part of the national side’s coaching set-up. He called on the country’s young players to take responsibility this summer, as the new-look side look to overcome recent struggles in the ODI arena and prove their capabilities at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales.
“Sri Lanka are an unpredictable team,” the 45-year-old told the ICC. “They need to be united, and there are special cricketers who can perform extremely well there (in England). If they have the team spirit, unity amongst the team, I think Sri Lanka will do well in the World Cup.”
Sri Lanka currently sit No. 8 in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings, and of the 10 teams set to play this summer’s World Cup, only West Indies and Afghanistan are ranked lower. Vaas has taken pleasure in trying to transfer some of his knowledge to the youngsters in the team, as he looks to instil a sense of pride in the players, while also giving fast bowling tips. “I love this game, this is what I did for most of my life,” he said.
“This is something that I can give back for the youngsters. I played for 20 years and enjoyed my game and as a coach I’m enjoying what I’m doing for the youngsters.
“I tell young fast bowlers, ‘Do not take short cuts, give 100%, focus on fitness, focus on endurance stuff and bend your back and bowl. Don’t keep it for the next game, what you can do today, do it. Do it for your country, remember where you come, don’t give excuses, make sure you are humble and when people try to criticise, you take it in the right way.'”
Vaas played a key role in Sri Lanka’s victorious 1996 Cricket World Cup campaign, and they since have reached two finals in 2007 and 2011. Channelling successes of the past could be key to re-energising this current side, and Vaas was quick to emphasise the impact that a successful campaign can have on the country. “We knew if we won the World Cup it was going to be a huge factor for Sri Lankan cricket,” he said.
“When we won it and brought the trophy back to Sri Lanka, we realised we had done something of the country and it’s huge.
“After 1999 until now, we have got to finals and semi-finals, and when it comes to important games such as the World Cup, our guys have done really well.
“It is now time for young guys to take the initiative to perform well and I’m sure when given the chance they will grab it from both ends and perform well for Sri Lanka.”
Sri Lanka kick off their World Cup campaign against New Zealand on Saturday, 1 June, but before that will first play Scotland in two ODIs, on 18 and 21 May.