Our younger batsmen are not ready to be promoted up the order just yet, says Graham Ford

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Sri Lanka’s younger batsmen lack experience playing at the top of the order

Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford has admitted that the national team’s younger batsmen are not ready to be promoted up the order just yet since they lack experience.

Ford stated that this was especially the case with Twenty20 captain Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne, both of whom are extremely promising batsmen.

“It has been a bit of a concern for both Chandi [Dinesh Chandimal] and [Lahiru] Thirimanne who are batsmen capable of batting in the higher part of the order, their games are more suited to it,” Ford said ahead of Sri Lanka’s departure for the United Arab Emirates. “We have current [senior] players filling those slots [up the order], so it has been quite difficult. Still, the selectors have tried to give them opportunities up the order when possible, and that’s why it looks like they’ve been shifted around.”

As of right now, Sri Lanka’s veteran batting trio of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene form the top order of the national team.

This means that Chandimal and Thirimanne’s primary role is to be a finisher, which, according to Ford, they are not.

“Perhaps it is not ideally suited to their styles because they are not really the 50-overs finishing type of batsmen,” Ford said. “They are more of the batsmen who get in the engine room and set up the innings.

“They’ll have to work a little bit on adjusting their style. They are both young players and they have very important roles to play in the future.”

With Jayawardene set to miss the upcoming limited overs series against Pakistan, it will present either Kusal Perera or Dimuth Karunaratne an excellent opportunity to learn about being a top order batsman by playing alongside Dilshan.

“They are both very exciting young cricketers,” Ford said. “Kusal is tremendous talent. He is such a natural player and plays with such flair. A really good guy to have in the team and he can certainly put the opposition on the back foot pretty quickly.

“Dimuth is more of a traditional type of player. He has done well in the longer form and it’s confidence-boosting for Sri Lanka to know that they’ve got those two options – one, more of a stabilising type of player and the other one who can really take the game to the opposition and put the bowlers under pressure. Depending on the strategy and tactics you can decide on which option one wants to use.”

Ford also noted that pace bowler Shaminda Eranga had not been included in the team for the upcoming series against Pakistan since Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) want to manage his workload as there are a lot of important tournaments and series coming up next year.

“Eranga is very much in the plans,” Ford said. “There is a lot of cricket ahead and it’s really going to be tough on the fast bowlers.

“We get to situations when there are five Test matches in a row. He is bowling beautifully and he is fit as can be, but he doesn’t fit into the starting ODI line-up in the combination they would put out in the UAE conditions. But come the next World Cup [in Australia-New Zealand], he will be close to [the first eleven] in those sort of conditions. He is a very important part of the Sri Lankan bowling unit.”

Ford added that Sri Lanka have to thoroughly develop their pace attack if they are to become one of the top teams in all three formats in the future.

“I don’t want to be critical about my group of players but there are few areas of concern,” he said. “People are working on some of the weaker and softer areas, and at the same time we got a lot of strong areas. We’ve got to [take advantage] of those strong areas and put the opposition under pressure.”

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