Sri Lankan players still in need of a High Performance Centre | Sunday Observer

Sri Lankan players still in need of a High Performance Centre

5 February, 2023

Sri Lanka Cricket today is in the hands of ineffective officials leaving the sport in a sad and tragic state. The High Performance Centre set up at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo for the development of the sport has now reached a questionable stage.

The Centre that was established nearly a decade ago has many trainers. A majority of them are foreigners hired for the purpose. Accordingly, trainers, physiotherapists and massage therapists are hired along with section heads and a manager to overlook the entire Centre. However many players claim the centre does not fulfill its purpose any longer.

According to some of the players the Centre does not house a pool that is necessary to improve their fitness. The authorities have failed to build one despite laying a foundation stone to begin construction in 2015.

The move was supported by the then Minister of Sports, Navin Dissanayake, and it was estimated to cost Rs. 100 million. It was also planned to build six different indoor training pitches. None of these facilities were available to players at the time and they were to be implemented to develop the talents of not only national level players but also of schoolboys and girls as well.

The construction plans were halted and many players feel the plans were halted to prevent the credit of the project going to the former Committee led by Sidath Wettimuny due to his untiring efforts to develop cricket in Sri Lanka.

Wettimuny believed it was a vital cog in the entire plan to develop cricket and the halting of the project was a major blow to the sport. He once noted that the authorities were looking for excuses to stop the construction. He called it a crime and a national embarrassment.

Cricket officials claimed that due to excessive expenditure, the plans were re-evaluated. But this was not to be. A facility available at many cricket clubs continues to elude Sri Lanka Cricket authorities and players continue to use swimming pools at other venues.

While many administrators pledge to develop the sport at election time, once appointed the focus shifts elsewhere. The players have now expressed their dissatisfaction at the absence of an acceptable High Performance Centre.

Former Sri Lanka captain Hashan Tillekaratne revealed at a recent television talk show that certain foreign trainers only appear to have knowledge in IT as opposed to ground realities.

He said they merely showed the authorities presentations on their laptops to get the job but did nothing else. The credentials of overseas trainers, physiotherapists and massage therapists have also been questioned while having proven individuals in Sri Lanka for the purpose.

It must be stated that many of the training staff supporting the Indian team are Indians and only a handful are foreigners. Sri Lankan authorities hire a majority from overseas and advertise for a job or two in local newspapers.

Recently Indian batter Virat Kohli credited “throw-down specialist” former Sri Lankan first-class cricketer Nuwan Seneviratne better known as ‘Bawwa’ for making the batters in the team look better with world-class practice through relentless deliveries.

He was also a trainer of the Sri Lankan cricket team and his bowling speed was over 150 kmph. However he was later removed on a baseless complaint by some batsmen he had trained. But it opened up an opportunity for him to work with the Indian team for the past five years.