COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s cricketers faced a barrage of criticism Tuesday a day after their series loss to bottom-ranked Zimbabwe in what is being described as a new low for the beleaguered side.
Zimbabwe notched their first win abroad in eight years after claiming the one-day international series against Sri Lanka 3-2, embarrassing a home side that has struggled with fitness, losses and coaching upheaval.
“Sri Lankan cricket has reached its lowest point and it could well be the point of no return. Now that the 11th ranked Zimbabwe have beaten them, we wonder what excuse is in store,” declared local newspaper Island.
“Disgrace” read a headline in the local Daily Mirror, while another newspaper said Sri Lanka’s cricket was “in the doldrums”.
Their defeat came hot on the heels of their early exit from the Champions Trophy and a drubbing by Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, who accused the national side of being overweight and unfit to compete on the world stage.
Players were given three months to get in shape or face the boot.
The side began the five-match series against Zimbabwe without a coach after Graham Ford quit on the eve of the tournament, just halfway through his 45-month contract.
Sri Lanka’s cricket board elevated fielding coach Nic Pothas for the series while they searched for a replacement for Ford.
“You can’t expect Pothas to perform miracles,” said a senior cricket official, asking not to be named.
“There were several factors that contributed to the (latest) humiliation.”
A lack of preparation and poor selection decisions compounded problems for the home side, who appeared to underestimate the tourists, the official added.
Zimbabwe rank just one place above cricket minnows Ireland and have not won abroad since a victory in Kenya in 2009.
Skipper Angelo Mathews conceded the shock defeat was a low point in his 187-match ODI career.
“This is a hard pill to swallow. I don’t want to give any excuses… They played better cricket,” Mathews told the Island.
He said he will discuss his future with selectors but had not made any decisions.
Sri Lanka faces Zimbabwe in a Test match in Colombo on Friday.