In a chat with TOI, Atapattu, who is here in his capacity as the mentor of the Karnataka Premier League franchise Belagavi Panthers, spoke about the way forward for cricket in Sri Lanka.
How do you see the current state of affairs of Sri Lankan cricket?
Rock bottom! Out of desperation, we have tried many things without planning. We don’t have the school cricket standards that we had in the past. For that matter, our club structure is not at its best. Maturity of players has been hampered because of the lack of competition at the domestic level. Also, there is a lot of fan pressure. When that happens, the team management starts to constantly chop and change the national team. They will continue till they realise the sport is going nowhere. We don’t get those brilliant 20-year-olds coming one after another anymore. Having said that, I think the quick-fix here would be to lift the competition at the club-level.
What role do the current players perform in these tough times? How do they stand up to the constant changes in the team?
They could have had a voice which can be heard, if, they were doing their job properly. You perform and stand up for your rights. As professional cricketers they have a job to perform, which they haven’t been able to do. So, when you are not bringing in the results, you can’t be pointing fingers. If you are good enough, challenge and ask yourself if you see yourself competing with the likes of Kohlis, Jadejas and Ashwins. You need to step up and lift your game.
How much longer do you think will the lack of successors to stalwarts like Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara hurt Sri Lanka cricket?
I always believed that a good leader gets good leader gets somebody ready so that the boat runs smoothly when he leaves. If Sri Lanka have taken things for granted and thought the players will go on forever, then that’s poor planning. We have invested on certain players like Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne but unfortunately very early in their careers we were trying to compare them to the like of Jayawardene, Sangakkara and Dilshan.
Where does Sri Lankan cricket go from here?
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