Sri Lanka ‘A’ head coach Avishka Gunawardena was very happy with his team’s performance during the two match ODI series against Australia ‘A’. The first game Australia ‘A’ won by seven wickets and in the second Sri Lanka A fought back to win the game by four wickets and series ended in a one all draw.
Avishka Gunawardena the former Ananda Captain and National team opener is no stranger to the Sri Lanka Cricket coaching field. He is a level three qualified coach who has vast experience in this field .He started as SSC coach ,Royal College coach and then moved to SLC as National under 19 coach and long time served on the High performance coaching staff.One time he was the batting specialist coach for National team and Assistant coach as well as Sri Lanka A coach .Before he was appointed Sri Lanka A head coach ( second time ) he was the National under 19 team coach .At that time Sri Lanka under 19 team led by Dunith Wellalage won the series against Bangladesh and Pakistan and moved to West Indies for world cup and reached the quarter finals.
He said coach can’t do 100 present for the team and players commitment is the most important. He always urges the players to play positive cricket and stresses the value of players fitness.
My view is that under 19 and Sri Lanka ‘A’ team or the development team need not win all matches. Actually winning or losing is not very important at this level. Match exposure is more important while the players have to adjust how to play according to match situation and use their brain to play cricket. Actually SLC gave their fullest support to develop National A team, Under 19 and development teams and that’s very important to make a successful National team in the future added Avishka Gunawardena. His intention is to provide more players to National team and make a second string team
“Winning against Australia ‘A ‘ODI is a great achievement by Sri Lanka ‘A’ team. Actually it was a super team effort .The first game we couldn’t get another 25-30 runs and that was the main reason for losing that one. Sri Lanka A made 297 for 7 wickets and they chased it comfortably. However the way our players performed during these two matches I am very satisfied as a coach said former National player Avishka who is a very talented coach in Sri Lanka.
We had a plan before the second ODI .We discussed with our players and we all knew Australia’ ‘A’ ‘side is very strong and packed with experienced players . However we knew our players have good potential . I had a plan to give Niroshan Dickwella to open in the second game while he was number five batsman in the first game . Actually I realized Dickwella was not successful in the middle order and we can make full use of him as an opener and he succeeded in the second game scoring 83 and laid the foundation for victory said Avishka Gunawardena.
My second plan was one of the six batsman had to stay until end of the game and that part was done by young Ashen Bandara who made a fighting unbeaten 73. We had Pramod Madushan the 28 year old paceman from Theraputta National school Hambantota and who has the ability to bowl well in death overs and he showed his potential by taking 4 for 50.
The 19 year old Dunith Wellalage is a good all-rounder and he still is in the learning period and he has good fighting spirit. Actually most of the ‘A’ team players were National under 19 players under my guidance and really happy to see their performance right now said coach Avishka Gunawardena .
I think winning against this type of Australia A side give more confidence for Sri Lanka A players . Australian A side is packed with senior players like Travis Head, Alex Carey and they are very experienced National players. They have a good system and their preparation is very high. Sri Lanka ‘A’ team already moved to Hambantota for the two four day matches against Australia ‘A’. Actually our four day team squad is also packed with seniors and juniors while they also get more exposure by playing against the second string Australia ‘A’ team.
But our players realised the match situation and they came back strong to get wickets and finally they scored 312 .Earlier they were in a good position to get over 350 runs on the SSC wicket but our team planned well and did their best to control the game. said coach Avishka Gunawardena.
Avishka Gunawardena also really appreciated his team Manager Charith Senanayake , the supporting staff Sajeewa Weerakoon (bowling coach , Thilina Kandamby Assistant coach ( these days Kandamby most of time involved with National red ball team players ) , Upul Chandana the Fielding coach and not to forget National coaching consultant his good friend from schools days Mahela Jayawardene, his physio , trainer and the SLC .All of them are working together and that is the success of the story.
Two college mates of Ananda College (Avishka 1994 Ananda captain and Thilan Samaraweera 1995 Ananda captain) were involved in the same tournament. Thilan Samaraweera is the Assistant coach of Australia ‘A’ side and are both former SSC players and this is also a very rare occasion.
The way Avishka is doing his part he could easily become National head coach in the future.