The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Whatmore: Best Cup preparation

Sydney: Former World Cup champions Sri Lanka are enjoying an ideal preparation for the World Cup despite an unimpressive recent win-loss record, coach Dav Whatmore said here on Tuesday.

Back-to-back wins over Australia and England in the tri-series have eased the pain caused by the 65 all out against Australia A in Adelaide last week. The victories ended a five-match losing streak, helping to improve Sri Lanka’s disastrous record on their tour of the southern hemisphere, now standing at three wins from 10 matches in South Africa and Australia.

Captain Sanath Jayasuriya said the transformation had occurred because the “batting and bowling has improved.”

But Whatmore said continued exposure to hard, bouncy pitches was paying dividends for a team which achieves most of its success at home.

“This is probably the best World Cup preparation we could have,” Whatmore said. “There’s still a fear that the team can get beaten badly again — and if you keep getting beaten your confidence can take a bit of a knocking.

“But a team like Sri Lanka, coming from our conditions to play one-day cricket in South Africa and then playing here does us no end of good.”

On lifeless, dusty pitches at home, Sri Lanka win an impressive 72 per cent of their one-day matches.

In Australia and South Africa, the statistics plummet to 21 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively, when the bounce and pace trouble players with wristy techniques.

This time, they have played a string of matches, with at least three more to come, and are learning to play on different surfaces.

Whatmore said while pitches in South Africa and Australia varied from venue to venue, they were generally in stark contrast to those Sri Lanka encountered on the sub-continent.

“By and large, here the ball bounces and carries to the wicketkeeper and it’s a test for us under those conditions,” he said. “That’s why repeatedly playing in these conditions does us no harm at all.” (AFP)

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