‘As far as the T20 World Cup goes, the team has got a fantastic chance’, says Graham Ford

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“I’m really looking forward to watching from a distance and seeing the boys lift the cup”

Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford has announced that the national team have “got a fantastic chance” of winning the 2014 World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in March 2014.

Even though Ford will no longer be with the Sri Lankan team by the time the tournament comes around, he still feels that they are on the path to success, especially after the way they performed in the 2012 World Twenty20, where they reached the finals, but were beaten by the West Indies.

“As far as the T20 World Cup goes, the team has got a fantastic chance,” he said. “They have played good T20 cricket for a period of time now, and are drawn in a favourable group. Plus the conditions should suit our style of cricket and the real bonus is that we’ll have a series in Bangladesh just prior to the world tournament. There’s lots to be positive about and I’m really looking forward to watching from a distance and seeing the boys lift the cup.”

Ford has set up specialised training sessions for Twenty20 cricket as it allows the Sri Lankan batsmen to add innovative strokes to their repertoire, while the bowlers are given the opportunity to practice their death bowling.

“It is important to play with freedom and be inventive,” Ford said. “Tillakaratne Dilshan was the leading example initially, of being able to play and be inventive – especially in T20 cricket. As we progressed, we realised that if we could have more guys able to hit the ball in awkward areas, it would make us a more powerful unit. If you’ve only got one or two guys who can improvise, if they don’t have a good day we are going to come second on the day. It is also about being confident about improvisation. It’s no good suddenly trying to play an invented shot which you have never practiced.”

Since the World Twenty20 is being held in Bangladesh, the Sri Lankan national selectors have added five spinners into the Twenty20 team as they will be able to use the spin-friendly conditions to their advantage.

“The selectors have had a look ahead and they are thinking about possible conditions in Bangladesh, where preparing spinners is important,” Ford said. “The spinners are all quite unique. A couple of them are spinning allrounders, and in T20 cricket, allrounders are important. We’ve got a number of seamer allrounders, but maybe that down the line, conditions are better suited to spin all rounders. They are just having a look at covering the options at the moment.”

Speaking about the recently concluded ODI series against New Zealand, which finished as a 1-1 draw, Ford admitted that he was impressed with the Black Caps’ performance, especially since three of their main batsmen – Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson – were not present throughout the series due to injuries.

“I am not [at] all surprised New Zealand have performed,” he said. “There were a few comments about them not having a full-strength side, but I am very much aware that their cricketing depth has increased massively over the last couple of years. They played an under-strength team in South Africa in ODI cricket, and they beat South Africa, which doesn’t happen that often. They also beat England in an ODI series in England. They are a dangerous team and they’ve got some very good one day and T20 players.”

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