The World Cup hasnt quite gone to plan for Sri Lanka. A 34-run win over Afghanistan aside, the last three weeks have been an unhappy period for 1996 tournament winners, who meet England at Headingley tomorrow desperately needing a victory to revive faint hopes of a semi-final place. They began the competition with a 10-wicket thrashing by New Zealand before beating Afghanistan, sitting out two rained off fixtures with Pakistan and Bangladesh, and returning for a disappointing 87-run loss to Australia. Read more:Betting tips: Powerful top order can leave Sri Lanka toiling Lasith Malinga may still be there, lumbering in to bowl his distinctive slingy yorkers to provide a connection to past exploits, but the glory days of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene feel long gone. Instead the current crop, if they dont drastically improve their results, are set to be defined by a revolving selection policy, political infighting, anti-corruption bans, apparent disinterest and indisputable dysfunction.
Had they been forced to qualify for the tournament, like Afghanistan and West Indies, its possible they might not even have made it. While sides like England have been busy settling on personnel and a playing style, Sri Lanka have been indiscriminately trying 52 different players since 2017s Champions Trophy. Their captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, is the eighth man to be given the job in one-day internationals since the 2015 World Cup – which is coincidentally the last time he played the format before being selected. Their chairman of selectors, Sanath Jayasuriya, was banned in February for two years for breaching anti-corruption code. In January, all-rounder Thisara Perera wrote a letter to Sri Lankan crickets chief executive describing the side as a “laughing stock of a whole country” after ex-captain Malingas wife accused him of only being in the team because of the sports ministers influence.