Sri Lankan selection policy playing with players careers

By Trevor Chesterfield | May 25, 2010

Excuse the smirk. Anyone following events surrounding the Sri Lanka team in Florida would have wondered just how serious has been the T20 exercise at Lauderhill in the US of A.

Central Broward Regional Park Cricket StadiumOne comment from a former Australian now tied to a popular Asian TV channel in Dubai of the way the ‘pitch sucked life out of good strokeplay’ explained just how insouciance has been this event in terms of its value. Big boundaries are one thing, but pitch conditions where hitting the ball off the square requires a major effort begs the question, what of the future?

No matter the jingoistic views of the two captains, if the pitch died the way it did, and the surface was likened by Simon Doull, the former New Zealand seamer as being slower than that prepared for a whacky sport known metaphorically in places like New Zealand, Australia and even South Africa as “old folks’ marbles” (and for which they even have a Commonwealth Games medals), indeed, what are they hoping to achieve.

It looks to be a wonderful stadium, but the pitch conditions and the 1-1 result is about as equal as you are going to get at a site approved by the International Cricket Council, but the aftermath of the series is going to be far more interesting. Initially it was to have made its debut three years ago as a World Cup venue; not only was the venue far from finished, there were problems as well with the surface. The square was found to be unfit for such an event. Maybe in the future, who knows?

As the Kiwis rest their weary bones after a long haul before their next South Asian sojourn, and yet another meeting with India and Sri Lanka on this currently rain-drenched island, players such as Tillakaratne Dilshan (deputising as captain) and Angelo Mathews (his senior lieutenant) head for Zimbabwe, with Colombo a pitstop in between. This you need to understand is more to collect kit for the series in the landlocked south-central African country and shake hands with family and friends before heading for despot Uncle Bob Mugabe’s nepotistic fiefdom.

It is such an interesting country. On my last visit in 2003, popping up from my home in Centurion to see the West Indies play a Test in Bulawayo and Brian Lara in action in November, asking a couple of people whether they had any news of a particular family of close friends, resulted in a visit to my hotel room from a not so friendly posse of the local security branch. In the apartheid days in South Africa, especially after 1976 student uprising that shook the white minority establishment, it was a regular occurrence to expect Bureau of State Security goons to tap on the door of my home and ask why it was necessary to visit a certain ‘township’ a polite euphemism for a ghetto.

Subterfuge was needed to explain the visits and cricket was used as the excuse, and as happened in Bulawayo, inquires about the disappearance of a family of five, who have never been seen again, makes you wonder. They were a lovely young Shona couple with degrees in teaching and met in London in 1969, returning to help rebuild the nation in 1982. Along with their three children, they disappeared, with others, in 2002. Yes, such an interesting county, and why mention any of this about Sri Lanka cricket and selection?

It is to explain that what you see taking with team selections is a riddle with no obvious answers as those with their agendas have their bias swept under the carpet.

Currently, Sri Lanka’s selectors are playing with the careers of any number of players: they are also second-guessing pitch conditions in Zimbabwe and Australia. In fact, they are running in circles trying to find answers to questions about which they have no idea.

For a start, it is time to forget the T20 circus and concentrate on the 50 overs format. Sri Lanka have a possible 15 or 16 ODI games before the World Cup, and as with India, the depth and quality bench strength, is being seriously questioned. If reports from a source coming out of Miami, and confirmed in Colombo are accurate, convener Ashantha de Mel has found his three merry obfuscators, which includes a man who went missing during a Test against Pakistan when Waqar Younis was bowling until it was ‘safe’, decidedly uncooperative, suggesting serious problems ahead.

It has been recommended Aravinda de Silva be approached to help out in selection and guide their thinking and also used in a consultancy capacity as a coach. It would be a good move, but knowing the little master, he won’t move in that direction unless he has carte blanche in selection issues and coaching policy, and that is highly unlikely.

As it is, one of the selectors is tied up with a member the government appointed, non-elected interim committee, who basically answer to no one, and do not appreciate satire, and have joint vested interests in a couple of players in the senior pool. The selector wants to ensure that one or more of his players are selected for the World Cup so that he and his interim committee pal can earn a fat bonus out of the payments.

If this is indeed a genuine story, and the sources indicate there is lot more dirt hidden in the squalid underbrush around the environs of Maitland Place, the concerns facing Sri Lanka Cricket is that there are those holding the sport to ransom, placing careers of any number of players on hold until after the five week tournament when they will quit leaving others to pick up the pieces and rebuild from the fractured mess surrounding the livelihood of demoralised players.

Kaushal SilvaFar-fetched? Believe what you like, but the way it is shaping, leg-spinner Malinga Bandara has been singled out along with Farveez Maharoof and to an extent Kaushal Silva, for a metaphorical firing squad. As a disgusted Bandara accepts a county contract with Kent and Chaminda Vaas takes up a Northamptonshire post, the selectors have been given an embarrassing slap in the face.

As it is, two batsmen going to Zimbabwe are Chamara Silva and Thilan Samaraweera along with five fast-medium bowlers to prove what leaves a question mark of dubious distinction. Tharanga Paranavithana as well as Upul Tharanga have been pushed into the A Team for the Australia tour.

As with Bandara in Bangladesh in January, Maharoof, added to the A Team’s limited over squad with great reluctance. It is understood he will play only if there are injuries and may get a practice game as a form of compensation to appease critics.

How factual is this claim depends on who you want to believe, and as there is no stand by group for the Zimbabwe visit, either there is a cost factor, De Mel is being overruled by a three-man mob who are only interested in what they can get for themselves and to hell with serving the game or Sri Lanka. Dangerous and rocky times are ahead for Kumar Sangakkara as players he wants are ignored for players he doesn’t and knows who cannot win games.

You can guarantee though, along with the selectors, there are those who are pushing for fatty boom- boom Thilina Kandamby and Chamara Kapugedara. Okay, what about some facts?

If anyone would care to check Kandamby’s record for the series in India last December and the Bangladesh triangular, they might wonder as well why he is still being selected. In India, his average of 36.00 is boosted by two not outs in scoring 108 runs in five innings with a top score of 27. Chamara Kapugedara was even more lamentable: 17 runs in two innings at an embarrassing 8.50.

In the triangular series in Bangladesh, and which Sri Lanka won, which some have already forgotten, so smitten are they by the inarticulate and technique dysfunctional T20, Kandamby’s three innings produced 27 runs at an average of 9.00. This gives him 135 runs in eight innings, and boosted with two not outs an average of 27 – hardly what you would call international winning form is it.

©: Copyright 2010. Trevor Chesterfield.
(For reasons of copyright, permission is required from the author and/or webmaster/editor of for publication).


JT's picture

Fabulous writing and astute commentary...I'm so happy to have found your writing and that you do so for this website.

princeOFcolombo's picture

yeah guyz like chamara silva n maharoof should b added to the one day squad, they hav the ability to perform well than kapugedara , mandis and sanath jayasuriya,
maha did well at da ipl and its even better if we could add a leg breakbowler into the team , that can be handy

i really miss maha and his late sixes

Anonymous's picture

Have you forgottn to include Jeevantha Kulatunga ?

Any one who ignores this talented player is sided with the player mafia group led by the selectors.

David Wijekoon's picture

By second-guessing conditions in Zimbabwe, I guess the writer is suggesting that as the tour is takling place in winter, the wickets will not be as bouncy as you get in the summer months. He is probably right as having spent some months in Zimbabwe in winter, the wickets are slow and often low. Does anyone reacall a tri-series with India and West Indies some years ago when the ball skidded around but rarely got up.
Surprising Chesterfield didn't mention the weak spin compliment, but I guess there are reasons. Do the selectors have a policy regarding Bandara and Herath at limited-overs level. Or are Messrs de Mel and friends waiting for Murlai to retire before waking up?
I think the point about Maharoof is a fair one, but as the question where are the selectors going with Dilshan? Is he a genuine captain? Rather have Mathews as he is young and deserves a chance.
Now we have established cable connection with multivision in South Africa, we'll be able to watch and have some curious madagascans wonder why we are not watching that other sport.

David Wijekoon's picture

No doubt, with the new selection panel led by by Aravinda de Silva,
there will be a few changes. We await the new broom and see what changes it brings and with Don Anurasiri gone, some players will be able to breate a little happier.

naveen's picture

wat happen 2 kulatunga one of the player who subject to injustice due to asanta de mel i hope and 100 percent sure new selection panel will confirm indika saram and jeevantha kulatunga’s skill 4 onedayers and t20 format

SMSD's picture
Member since:
20 December 2008
Last activity:
7 years 9 weeks

Many things I agree with this article and one of them is Kandamby's inclusion. Although I think it's unkind to refer to him as "fatty boom boom".lol.

It is beyond me why Kandamby is going to Australia, even baffled by the news that he is captaining the side. Kaushal Silva certainly would have been the better option to lead the A team as his last A team series (Ireland/Canada/Afghanisthan) was a great success.

Kaushal Silva's entry into the national side is marred by the presence of the captain himself I suppose. It is ironic, considering that entry of Sangakara into SL's Wicket Keeper position (they wanted to introduce young blood into the team back then)hastened the retirement of 1996 world cup winning wicket keeper Kaluwitharana.

I hope they come to their senses and give Kaushal Silva chance to keep wicket during the next Test series against West Indies in November at least.

haroof's exclusion is also baffling and very unfair. U

Unless SLC make the full use of his services, it would be better for his career to play county Cricket in the UK when he has the opportunity, rather than twiddling his thumbs and waiting around.

I never thought I'd say this. But the way the SLC selectors are messing around with players lives, I quite understand if most of them decided to tell them to stick their contracts where the sun don't shine and go off to play County Cricket, State Cricket or even IPL.

batman87's picture
Member since:
3 July 2009
Last activity:
6 years 45 weeks

If Kaushal is gonna keep in tests what will happen to Prasanna? I agree that he should be given a chance to keep in ODIs but at the same time we must consider the team balance as well. Kandamby isn't that bad to be left out from the A side with his experiences on bouncy tracks especially in south africa.Maybe u r right regarding the captaincy.

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