Probe into selection policy and jeers at home as Sri Lanka lose Cricket World Cup final

By Trevor Chesterfield | April 3, 2011

Kumar Sangakkara walks between traditional Sri Lankan Kandyan dancers performing for the cricket team's arrival in Colombo on April 2, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI.

Now the bickering starts at home over reasons for Sri Lanka’s World Cup defeat of six wickets by India in Mumbai. And as expected, the fall out is far from pleasant.

As Aravinda de Silva and the rest of the selectors mull how Kumar Sangakkara’s team lost to India, the state media are making demands of a probe into how the team for Saturday's final was selected. Amid criticism aimed at the side by Sunday Observer, is the decision to play an injured Muttiah Muralitharan and a struggling Lasith Malinger in the game.

While fast bowler Malinga also hinted how injuries affected his fitness in the lead up to Saturday’s World Cup final in Mumbai, state media sought an explanation of the selection of the side for the Wankhede showdown.

Better known for its obsequious pro-government stance on most subjects, the Observer made its demands known in a front page article. Of Muralitharan’s role, where he often struggled around the boundary , there was criticism for him playing for what was a “sentimental farewell”.

So too was Malinga’s inclusion queried in another Sunday paper as questions were asked for reasons of the team’s failure, ignoring how they were beaten by a better side in what was a pulsating final

One of several issues raised is whether Angelo Mathew’s thigh injury was so disruptive as to require four changes in the side to that which had earlier beaten England and New Zealand in the quarterfinal and semi-final stages of the event at Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. His injury meant Suraj Randiv’s sudden elevation to the squad after sitting out the six weeks of the tournament.

Mathews thigh injury is expected to sideline him for six to eight weeks during which he will miss the Indian Premier League. He was to have played for the new franchise Pune Warriors who bought him for US$980 000 at the January auctions.

Chamara KapugederaSeveral observers saw Randiv as a cover for the struggling Muralitharan and the inclusion of all-rounders Nuwan Kulasekara and Thisara Perera as a way to help the struggling Malinga, adding the extra punch to the seam and swing bowling attack, as well as beefing up a susceptible lower middle-order.

This was particularly noticeable with the inclusion of that middle-order batting fake Chamara Kapugedera whose ODI batting average is 22.20 and failed in his one previous game – against Canada at Hambantota on February 20 when Sri Lanka began their campaign

“Was it advisable playing a half-fit Muralitharan?" questioned the Sunday Observer, complaining how, "Winning the mega-final is much more important than giving a farewell tribute to even a great cricketer of Muralitharan's magnitude.”

This is from a paper that for weeks supported the inclusion of an aged Sanath Jayasuriya in the World Cup squad.

The Sunday Times, part of the independent media, also rapped the selectors for playing a half-fit Muralitharan, who at times struggled around the boundary, as also did Malinga. The newspaper was also critical of the selection policy and Sri Lanka Cricket administration.

It said how Sri Lanka’s supporters were still trying to come to terms how their team lost; also saying how the World Cup defeat should now be used as a way to clean up the administration of the game.

Sri Lanka Cricket is run by a government appointed ad-hoc body, disparagingly referred to by one long-time critic of its policies as “Men from the Ministry” in his weekly column in another independent newspaper, The Island.

"Cricket has been run by successive interim committees, most reeking with corruption, nepotism, political interference and mismanagement," the Sunday Times said, urging a cleanup of those who are in charge of the game’s administration.

Sri Lanka’s captain, Kumar Sangakkara, has rushed to aid of the beleaguered selectors with his support over the changes made to the side for the final saying they were necessary.

“The changes we made were good," Sangakkara said on arrival at the airport. "Unfortunately, we did not do well enough in bowling and fielding. We were unable to maintain pressure on India after their first two wickets. India played very well and that is why we lost."

Malinga says his injury-prone body and fitness will not allow him to play in another World Cup.

“I hope to be of service to my team as long as I can, but I won't be able to play in the next World Cup “ - in 2015 in Australia and New Zealand - “I have been carrying injuries for the past few weeks and with very little rest," the 27-year-old told state-run television after the side arrived back from Mumbai Sunday morning.

“I did what the team expected me to do," he added. "I couldn't bowl yorkers properly (at Wankhede on Saturday night) because the ball was too wet. It was difficult to swing it as well. I tried hard, and regret I couldn't take more wickets.”

These are the remarks from the bowler whose slingshot action has earned him 127 wickets from 84 games during a limited-overs career spread over seven years with two World Cup hat-tricks to his credit; the first against South Africa in 2007 in the West Indies and the second against Kenya this year.

He sent the locals into a frenzy of excitement with a peach that trapped Virender Sehwag in front without a run on the board. He added hope to the Sri Lankan cause by dismissing Sachin Tendulkar with a rocket that caught the batsman on the crease, edging a catch to the wicketkeeper and captain Kumar Sangakkara with 18 to his name. It found India struggling at 31 for two and already talk of watching Sangakkara and the team parade the trophy through the streets.

Muttiah MuralitharanThis was short-lived as the Gautam Gambhir/Virat Kohli partnership edged India’s toe in the door as invaluable runs were added as the sweaty Sri Lankan grip slowly diminished.

Muralitharan, who like Malinga struggled through the last stages of the World Cup, felt not all was lost. He did admit though to being disappointed how his international career had ended without being in a side winning a World Cup for the second time.

“My main aim was to win the World Cup but unfortunately we couldn't do that because India was a better side on the day,” he commented. “We scored enough runs (274 was a good score) but at the end, after taking two vital wickets by Malinga - Sachin and Sehwag - we couldn't crack their side. Especially because in the middle overs spinners didn't take enough wickets. That was the main reason.

“If I or Suraj (Randiv) had taken a few wickets, then the story would have been different. These things happen in cricket,” he said. “You have to move on.”

Many thousands of Sri Lankans flocked to a large variety of venues to watch the game on giant screens put up especially for the occasion. As it was, many of the thousands of spectators, had began to drift away by around 10.30 p.m. when it was obvious that India were going to beat Sri Lanka and that Malinga was not fit enough to conjure another hattrick to snatch an improbable victory.

Unlike Pakistan, where Shahid Afridi’s side received a heroes’ welcome, the Sri Lanka side received a cool reception with few turning out on the side of the road. No one wants to see a bus with tinted windows.

The team’s media officer Brian Thomas was said to have had an expression on his face that would curdle milk and prepare it for a special brand of sour Sri Lankan-style camembert cheese.

On a happier note, former Sri Lanka opening batsman, Sidath Wettimuny, despite being on a business trip to Thailand, did text his thoughts in response to a request.

“Very sad we didn’t capitalise on the two early wickets as the strength of the Indian batting line up was apparent. We simply didn’t have the (bowling) sting while India withstood the pressure admirably. However, being a finalist is very special. We can be very proud of our cricketers," he said.

© Island Cricket/Trevor Chesterfield


Sujan's picture
Member since:
27 December 2008
Last activity:
3 days 10 hours

Whats the damn point in any probe now??

It's all-over.. Im being subjected to abuse and humiliated.. Totally disappointed. We were so close yet so far. Need some more whiskey :(

Sulaimaan's picture
Member since:
3 December 2010
Last activity:
1 year 15 weeks

If we try finding out the mistakes that cost us the match, so many seem to be coming up each day.Whatever happened is over but what SL cricket needs now is a complete overhaul of this rogue administration.

Maithri89's picture
Member since:
30 May 2009
Last activity:
3 years 38 weeks

They took a risk and it didn't pay off. End of story.

It isn't as if we had a terrible game. We weren't thrashed at all and some might even say we were unlucky. The team certainly doesn't deserve jeering and the type of criticism I think they will get.

As for the selectors, the administration needs a change, but don't replace Aravinda as chairman of selectors. We've finally got someone who actually knows what he is doing and is doing it for the team not for some other personal reason.

Anonymous's picture

It's all lack of Captain's Spirit..Lack of discussion by Captain with his feilders and bowling (specially with mahela, Murali etc)...He couldn't stop India even after 2 major wickets..Why couldn't he stop them/pressurize them? why didn't he bring the fielders to the thirty yard and exert some pressure with Dilshan to trigger the Indian side to go for big shots?

Anonymous's picture

Look my Lankan Brothers,

Probing selection policy wouldn't help much as looking at different team selection that could possibly beat India that night is remote. Didn't matter even if ya'll had a young in-form Jayasuriya, you could never overcome the might of the ferocious Indian batting line-up.

You need batsmen in order to compete better, call Mr. Ranatunga out of hibernation and the likes of Mr. De Silva. Then a definite possibility to win arises.

But why Sehwag made an AndOO is beyond me.

Anonymous's picture

Who is the admin of this web site???
Be more responsible b4 u open ur mouth, specially in a sensible situation like this...
Is this ur way of reporting?

Guys just CHECK THIS OUT!!! It's the same article n IT IS THE INDIAN POINT OF VIEW!

DISGUSTING Journalism!!!

Anonymous's picture

its hurts a lots :/ i just cant believe we are lost the match ?
still remember my brother cried after the defeated ..
come on lions another 4 year .. how how how ?

Anonymous's picture

The probe must not be about Murali or Malinga, it should be about why the selectors decided to leave Mendis out of the team and Chamara Silva who made even the smallest contribution with the bat and even Rangana Herath. These guys played in all the matches we won and Suddenly in the final we are experimenting on guys that were not even seen during the big matches. Such a shame. I firmly believe that their must have been some kind of political pressure. For Indian Ministers to be allocated 20000 tickets out of 33000 tickets and only 4000 to be available for the public and those tickets that were allocated to the Ministers of India were sold at black market rates from 40k-150k they were so sure of the out come. If you look at Doni how he played, he did show any sign of anxiousness or worry it was a big match fix..but not by Sangakkara but by higher ups for political gains. If the cause is greater than the thrill of bringing the prestige home, we are all for it.!! But I sincerely hope it is not for other reasons.

Anonymous's picture

Can people get over this? all the media seem to be interested in is asking questions of why we lost, we made the goddamn finals, something other teams didnt achieve. i mean of course im frustrated cause i wanted sri lanka to win, but at the end of the day the better team won. no point asking questions, imagine had sri lanka won, would they be asking questions of the selection? media just go find something else to do, asking questions of why we lost isnt somehow going to make things better

delan82's picture
Member since:
18 October 2009
Last activity:
6 weeks 2 days

THis is can you go into the final without Murali & Malinga?

The mistake made was how they handled the injured players? Murali should have fielded in slips or short midwicket, or somewhere close so he didn't have to run. This should have been done in QF, semis and final.

With the middler order, they should have given all batsmen including reserves a chnace to have a decent hit somehwere in the tournament, perhaps against minnows or in dead-rubber games. That would have kept all in good touch.

The tactic to go slow batting in the final, after being aggressive all tournament backfired.

We saw poor negative captaincy in the final, with bad field placements, shocking bowling changes. Sanga has been very predictable, especially with use of power plays. He didn't attack new batsmen with our best bowlers.

The missed catch and run-out of Gambhir was the most costly aspect!

The team will rue the missed chance to win, but people should look at the line-up and realise they probably exceeded expectations by making the final.

gayang3's picture

Oh no another fake controversy drummed up by government media (like the Mahela taking bribe story earlier) to keep the focus off the other pressing needs of the country..... more cheap tactics....

All the selections apart from selecting Kapugedara were excellent selections based on sound logic. Even the Kapugedara selection could have been due to the fact that Silva was struggling and Kapugedara is normally a very very good fielder)...

These media persons need to grow up and stop behaving like idiots.

Marcian's picture
Member since:
8 December 2010
Last activity:
1 year 14 weeks

Jeers at home? I dont think so! They were warmly welcomed at the airport and on the streets - Negombo road to Independence square, Colombo 07.

Absolutely ludicrous to question the selection of Murali and Malinga!

There are many 'Ifs and Buts' when it comes to cricket.

What if Sanga also scored a hundred? What if Dilshan scored a quick-fire seventy? What if Kulasekera took that catch? What if Gambhir was run out? What if Dhoni was bowled in the first over he faced off Dilshan? What if Murali and Radiv bowled when India were 31 for 2? What if Murali and Randiv got two wickets each?
What if there was no dew and Malinga bowled yorkers at Dhoni and and Gambhir in the last few overs?

Look, the better cricket team won the final! Its over now...lets move on.

Marcian's picture
Member since:
8 December 2010
Last activity:
1 year 14 weeks

Its better for the media to probe other issues in the country than to waste their time on the WC final.

They should get their priorities in order!

Anonymous's picture

World cup is over. Forget it. Now prepare for the next years WC-T-20 to be played in Colombo. Try and plan to win that now without worrying about the one we became No:2 Practice hard and win that please!!! Come on the 'Lions' you can do it.

imbas's picture
Member since:
3 April 2011
Last activity:
6 years 28 weeks

mulinma kapugedar wa kandaayama thula athul karanna epaa. eyaa waste

Anonymous's picture

I've worked with Trevor Chesterfield... I have not seen a bigger cynic than the man. He is entitled to his comments. It doesn't mean they are representative of the general population.We are proud of the Sanga and his team!

There may have been two changes too many but we've seen one of the most interesting WC finals since 1996 (2003 was just weird!).

Anonymous's picture

Watch the whole game ICC world cup final, find out where and what went wrong. Get ready for the next world cup now. For the next world cup, keep some extra bowlers who can bowl well and batsman from other countries are not used to. We can put them on the final. We need to have a surprise in the final. 2015 World Cup is ours. Let's do it next time. Do not dwell on the failure, dwell on what needs to be done get the team ready. I believe we need a need players who each and every player can bowl and bat well. They need to be all rounders. That is the only way to lift the world cup 2015. We can overcome!!! Get into the final was not easy. If we can get there, we can defeat any country in the final. We must!!!

Anonymous's picture

no more Kapu.PLSSS..

ds is tooo much Faveration to him or not.......he should nt be in the team..........thr r plenty of talent SL cricket pls look around...........kapu just a traveler...........

indian's picture

i'm frm was a 50/50 srilankan set a high target & challenged we have done our best..,if u deserve more than us,smash & tke the cup frm us..,thts wht we did..,
after all its only 15 yrs for lanka to lift 2nd time wc,but for us 28 long years..,imagine how much we all experienced these moments..,more than all we all have to appreciate lankan captain for his coolness & calmness in the fields unlike behaving rudely with his team mates like ricky/afridi.

Pol Adi's picture


When MICHAEL HOLDING said Sri Lanka does not have a good enough bowling attack to win the world cup (posted by Hilal, March 16th), I agreed with him, as I felt the same. Predictably, most our fellow SL fans (including Gayan) wrote in comments and went mental.

These are my fellow Sri Lankan fans who I meet regurlarly, typically excitable but clueless, who get offended by the smallest criticisms of the Sri Lanka team without bothering to find out the reasons behind constructive criticism.

Hate to say this but everything I said about our weaknesses came true...I said the following in the comments section on the Michael Holding article –this website March 16th.

1 Our bowling is weak, apart from Murali and Malinga. You can mesmerise the likes of NZ and Englad in home conditions with mystery bowling but not the Indian side who are used to our bowling attack. Look at the bowling figures in the final.

2 Awesome Indian batting compensates for their relatively poor bowling . Our score of 275 chased with ease – and that in a world cup final – chasing ! they had some minor issues in the group stages which were properly ironed out in the business end of the competition.

3 I also said the due to our toothless back up bowling attack, we need to employ power hitting in the mid overs – (using Tissara Perera) to get a high enough score to defend.
What was the management thinking ...not sending Tissara perera in the mid overs to boost the run rate after that really slow start, he got 22 from 9 balls, Imagine what he could have done with 10-15 overs – we would have got well over 320. He should have been sent before Tilan, Kapugedera, Kula. Only this would have given us a chance. The management was hoping that 260-270 score would choke the Indians. That would have been enough in the days of Sidhu, Ahraruddin, Manjrekar, Mongia BUT not now, with the new India...cocky, confident, aggressive IPL battle hardedned India.

The only way to defeat India is with a massive batting effort, not relying on dibbly dobbly bowlers like Kula...(it does not matter if mendis played or murali not played or randiv played etc.) we had to put a massive score on that board.

Michael Holding is one of the greatest bowlers in the history of cricket. He is very critical of any sub standard players in any team - even the West Indies. He is not an anti Sri Lankan- I have had the fortune to meet him and he is a very astute analyst and expects the highest of standards of all international players. He knows what he is talking about.

Sri Lanka has an England TEST tour coming up, Mainga and Murali not playing, Strauss and co are hardly quaking in their boots, having sleepless nights thinking of how to face those tearaway pace attack of ours, Kula and Matthews !....

Lets get this right, management has to work hard on the likes of true potential faster bowlers for this tour, like Dhammika Prasad, Welegedara and Suranga lakmal? Get a fast bowling coach about Michael Holding aka 'whispering death'!!!

shahid maradana's picture

Well Done Lions
2003 Semi Finalist
2007 Runners Up
2011 Runners Up
we have made a mark
We get stronger year by year
our moment will come one day,we will lift a world cup soon inshaALLAH
Proud to b a Sri Lankan

shahid maradana's picture

well said marician,

RIZMY's picture

we played good cricket, we would have batting second like QF and SF, unfortunately sanga won the toss, be happy guys WE ARE NUMBER TWO in the cricket world. we gonna beat AUSIE in 2015 WC finals. JAYAWEWA

Anonymous007's picture

Mr.Chesterfield I was one of the "few" that turned up on the road to recieve the team as you have mentioned, and I can assure you in a Sri Lankan point of view that was NOT FEW!!! Maybe you are comparing with Pakistan, but we are talking about 2 different countries and 2 different kinds of people here, so you CANNOT COMPARE!!! And I can most certainly assure you there was NO JEERING!! Kindly get your facts straight, we are a nation proud of our team and stand by them in victory and in defeat!

sam the man's picture

well done SL for the overall performance to become the 2nd best.

I don't think anybody can blame the selections with the exception of kapu. But that too did not really affect too much as kule contributed. missing a crucial catch, a run out chance and a stumping although contributed are all part of the game. Maybe one could state out of the initial SL wickets,only Upul tharanga got out for a worthy delivery. Other 3-4 wickets were more not worthy of a final from responsible batsman in a final. ( Anyway lets sey that too is spur of the moment, final preasure etc)

However, what i cannot find the answear for is: why the hell did we let go after the initial two wickets?? Our guys knew the wicket was playing better. there was dew, which was going to give problems to the bowlers later on.Knowing the depth of the brilliant indian batting should't have the slogan "now or never" started to really kick in? Shouldn't we have continued with manlinga for 2 more overs with Dilshan on the other side ASAP just as we did in other matches with a slip and a close in field?? Instead for 7-8 overs kule and Thisara were bowling away merrily, with least pressure, giving the opportunity for india to get away from the pressure by maintaining a healthy run rate with ease and slowly but surely getting out of the rut they were in. Once out of the rut there was no turning back with the wicket playing very well, and the dew really getting the better of the bowlers not forgetting the brilliant Indian batting under pressure.

Do I have a point or is there a better explanation for the decision to continue with Kule and Thisara bowling to Gambir and virat, after the initial 2 wickets with a normal field which eventually got rid of the pressure? appreciate to get a educative reply from a learned cricket

David Wijekoon's picture

Whoever anaymous is regarding the cricketnext story needs tro check his facts.
The story on cricketnext is written by Trevor Chesterfield as is this one, except that is has what writers/agencies call a new angle.
Too many people jumping to conclusions without checking the source of the story.
Also, the same anonymous taling about cynics. I have spent time in Trevor Chesterfield's home and with his children at Centurion in South Africa in the 1990s and when you had to deal with idiot politicians, the frankness as he exudes when talking about issues of which he cares is not at all surprising.
Time to reveal yourself anonymous instead of acting like most cowards and not wanting to goive your name.

Martin's picture

Guys please read properly before barking like mad dogs. The jeering and calls for probes are from the state media (thanks to Rajapaksa), not the writer.

Any way Sri Lankans have taken their loss better than South Africans!!

NirajP's picture

[This comments has been removed as it is not consistent with our comment submission guidelines.]

Anonymous's picture

chesterfield calls us yahaluweni and lands us a 'kaney' thank you.

Hilal's picture
Member since:
20 November 2008
Last activity:
10 hours 31 min

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of the author Mr. Trevor Chesterfield in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.

Trevor graciously agreed to help out Island Cricket by joining us as our first columnist, when others declined. While we may not all agree with his views, as a permanent resident of Sri Lanka and being married to a Sri Lankan, he always stood for the right and was never afraid to call a spade a spade.

When he was critical of our cricket, players or administrators, his intentions were to make the citizens of Sri Lanka aware of the truth in hopes of change for our betterment.

Rest in peace, Trevor Chesterfield.

ThilinaC's picture
Member since:
5 April 2011
Last activity:
5 years 42 weeks

they are probing big time I guess,selection comity resigned today :/

god9iss's picture

after all sports is for entertainment...

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