Sri Lanka only started to play international cricket consistently in the 1980s. And for the most part, its early days, like Bangladesh’s, seemed pretty bleak — I don’t have the exact figures (I’m very, very lazy), but after perusing StatsGuru, I didn’t get the sense that Sri Lanka could be viewed as a competitive option during its first decade. (Oldies, feel free to call me out if I’m wrong.)
But here’s the surprising thing: for some reason, I assumed that new cricket teams’ success should look like a S-curve. That is, gradual improvements and wins that incrementally build on each other over time. But that wasn’t the case — Sri Lanka’s win-loss ratio looked relatively unremarkable until the mid-1990s, when it just took off (and, of course, when it won the 1996 World Cup). So two questions: a) Does the expression “we have to learn to win” actually have validity? That is, can losing teams suddenly just snap out of it by stringing together winning streaks? b) Can success be bought ‘on the cheap’? Rather than looking for 11 great players, do you just settle for a handful [Tamim, Shakib, maybe Mortaza?] and hope the rest can play support?
[P.S. Following a previous discussion w/ Idle Summers, I'd assume that Bangladesh has a much brighter future, given that its population -- about 140 million -- is roughly six times that of Sri Lanka's. Also, it occurs to me that Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have all been coached at one point by Dav Whatmore. Maybe he has the secret sauce to success?]