Sri Lankan players’ willingness to learn will take the side a long way in T20 World Cup: Silverwood

Sri Lanka men’s cricket team coach Chris Silverwood has said the players’ willingness to learn and try new things were the two key aspects he saw could take the side all the way in the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia beginning on October 16.

Ahead of the team’s departeure for the global event, the former England chief coach added that Sri Lanka had “awesome” talent, which makes them an “exciting prospect” for the T20 World Cup.

“Firstly, their (players’) willingness to learn, willingness to adapt and try new things which is really refreshing. You’ve seen the results of that (in the Asia Cup). The camaraderie in the team. When I arrived, I said the talent was awesome, I think they have shown us on the big stage against big teams as well. It’s a combination of all these things put together that makes it an exciting prospect,” said Silverwood, who took over the Sri Lanka coaching assignment after relinquishing his England post following their dismal performance in the Ashes earlier this year.

Sri Lanka failed to qualify directly for the Super 12 stage of the tournament in Australia and will instead need to finish in the top-two of their first round group that consists of Namibia, Netherlands and the UAE just to keep their dreams alive of a second T20 World Cup title.

Silverwood also said his side will have to give the same respect to their first-round opponents such as Namibia as they would sides like Australia and England, among others.

“You have to treat the teams with the same respect like you would against teams like India, Australia or England,” the coach said. “We have to beat them, we have to make sure we do well. To me as a team we really should instil our disciplines and make sure we win,” Silverwood was quoted as saying by ICC.

“There are always areas to improve like setting totals which we did really well in the final (Asia Cup). It is something we haven’t done a great deal and something for us to think about. Equally, the bowling, we are still working on the yorkers to make it successful on Australian wickets. There is constant work in progress.

“What has impressed me most are quite a few things. Firstly, their willingness to learn, willingness to adapt and try new things which is really refreshing. You’ve seen the results of that. The camaraderie in the team. When I arrived, I said the talent was awesome, I think they have shown us on the big stage against big teams as well. It’s a combination of all these things put together that makes it an exciting prospect.”

Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka believes the fact his side must participate in the first round of the T20 World Cup may actually work to their advantage. Prior to their opening first round match against Namibia on October 16, Sri Lanka will get the chance to acclimatise to the conditions Down Under when they take on Zimbabwe and Ireland in warm-up matches.

Shanaka thinks participating in all those matches will hand his side a distinct advantage when the tournament nears its completion in the middle of November.

“The last T20 World Cup (in UAE) we played the qualifying round and got into the tournament proper because we adapted to the ground conditions we had an advantage,” Shanaka said. “The five matches which we are due to play in Australia will be to our advantage because we can read the conditions and the wickets going into the Super 12. From ground to ground the dimensions change, the bowlers need a lot of variations.

“They cannot succeed with one or two variations. We must prepare well for it. The bowlers have an idea of what is expected of them. The batsmen, we have spoken about how the top order batsmen are going to play in the Powerplay. We have set a good standard in fielding and our intention is to take our processes forward. I am always concerned about the process, it all depends on the day how you deliver. If we make the right decisions and do the right things on that day we can win,” he added.

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