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Silva a solid Test opening option for Sri Lanka - Ford

23 January, 2014

COLOMBO: Outgoing Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford has expressed optimism about Sri Lanka's future, after several key players contributed heavily in the Test series against Pakistan.

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Ford reserved highest praise for Kaushal Silva, who assumed the opening position Tillakaratne Dilshan left vacant, and also lauded the progress of the fast bowlers, who had been instrumental to the Test victory in Dubai.

Silva has been a middle-order batsman in domestic cricket, but hit 307 runs at 51.16 in his first series as Test opener. He had hit 27 first-class hundreds before being granted an extended run in the side.

"I am surprised that Silva hasn't opened more because his natural make-up is that of an opener," Ford said. "Everything he does, he just looks like a good Test match opener. I wasn't sure of his mental strength, but coming on tour, I really got to know him a little bit.

He showed that he is very tough mentally, which is fantastic, and he's got a great technique for countering attacking bowling which is what you need in Test match cricket. With Dilshan retiring, it's fantastic that Sri Lanka had such an able replacement waiting in the wings."

Sri Lanka's fast bowling has perhaps been the most encouraging outcome of the series, as the three frontliners shared 29 wickets between them at an average of 29.72, on pitches that were largely unhelpful after the first four sessions. Shaminda Eranga and Suranga Lakmal also both bowled 130.3 overs each in the series - a remarkable achievement, considering Lakmal's history of injury in particular.

"The fast bowling is something the medical team has paid a lot of attention to, together with the fast bowling coaches. They've really tried to build up their work base and their strength, so that they are able to bowl much longer spells at full intensity and come back later and bowl with good pace. That's really pleasing to see, how they have come on.

"As I mentioned earlier on in the tour, it has been a disappointment that they missed out on so much Test cricket in the past year. They would probably have been further down the line if they had played a bit more. The [upcoming] series in England would be a fantastic challenge and these young bowlers are really starting to show what it takes to perform on a tour like that."

Ford had come aboard with Sri Lanka at a time of upheaval, in which both the previous coach and captain Tillakaratne Dilshan were sacked. He suggested the team found direction during his two years in charge, and had also drawn good results from a diverse group of cricketers.


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