‘It’s not so much the people, and it’s not so much the players – it’s the infrastructure that we need to review’
Reforming Sri Lanka’s domestic structure is among Tom Moody‘s priorities in his new role as director of cricket, and a fresh plan for first-class structure may be revealed over the next few months. So said Moody in his first press conference in his new role, having just spent three weeks observing and reviewing cricket in Sri Lanka.
Moody was hired for a three-year stint as director by a technical advisory committee led by Aravinda de Silva at the start of March, and has a wide-ranging purview, spanning both the women’s and men’s game, as well as domestic and international cricket.
Bridging the gap between the men’s domestic tournaments and international cricket, however, appears to be among his first priorities. Moody said there’s already a plan being drawn up to retool first-class cricket on the island.
“One thing that becomes very clear from having done a lot of research and having had a lot of discussions with people who understand the first-class and domestic game here, is that it’s not a system that supports excellence,” Moody said. “That’s something that’s very much a priority in regards to our rebuild. Once you provide a system that provides excellence, you allow talent – which this country is not short of – to thrive.”
Among the major criticisms levelled at Sri Lanka’s domestic structure is that there are too many teams playing domestic cricket. Moody suggested that the premier competition that he is devising would feature a much more condensed pool of talent.
“Once we manage to get those structures in place – which will happen reasonably swiftly – you’ll enjoy the rewards of that new first-class structure. The national team will always respond well with better-prepared players for international cricket. When there’s a 26-team club competition, it’s a very big ask for any player, regardless of how many club runs he’s got, to step on to the international arena. It’s an enormous gulf between the first-class structure and what’s on offer on the international stage. Once those things are addressed, we’ll see some wonderful benefits.”
Due to the pandemic, Sri Lanka has not played a first-class tournament yet in 2021. But Moody is confident that the structure he has helped devise will be announced over the next few months.
“We’re very close to finalising a reviewed structure. You will see a new domestic structure rollout this year to make a significant step forward in what we’re looking to do.”
Moody had been Sri Lanka’s head coach between 2005 and 2007 – a period characterised by excellent Test results, as well as a run to the final in the 2007 ODI World Cup. He has since coached IPL and PSL teams and has also been tournament director of the CPL.
“I’d like to make it very clear how privileged I am to be back in Sri Lanka,” Moody said. “I’ve followed Lankan cricket with great interest over the years. I’ve rode every high and felt every low. It wasn’t very hard for me to accept this position when it was offered to me.
“It’s not so much the people, and it’s not so much the players – it’s the infrastructure that we need to review. If we get that infrastructure right, we have people in the roles in which they are best suited, and we have accountability for all of this – including for myself – I’m sure we’ll be back where we need to be, which is competing at the top.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf