What is the chairman of selectors talking about?

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Ashantha de Mel, who is back as Sri Lanka's chief selector, believes Upul Tharanga is "suspect" against the new ball and he plays "well away from his body". Tharanga, according to de Mel, belongs in the middle-order in ODIs because of this.

This is what de Mel told The Nation recently,

"Upul’s technique against the new ball is suspect. He is playing well away from his body and that is why we have decided to bring him down the order in the ODIs and play him in the middle where he has contributed."

It's a ridiculous statement.

Tharanga has scored 4311 ODI runs while opening the batting. He is second only to Sanath Jayasuriya in the list of openers with most runs scored while opening the batting for Sri Lanka in ODIs.

Sri Lanka's most successful openers in ODIs

Player Matches as opener Runs made as opener 100s when opening
ST Jayasuriya 384 12674 28
WU Tharanga 133 4311 12
TM Dilshan 87 3532 11
RS Mahanama 118 3283 4
MS Atapattu 93 3128 6

Since making his debut in 2005, Tharanga has made 12 ODI centuries and he is fifth on the list of highest century-makers in the 50-over format for Sri Lanka. In addition, Tharanga averaged 56.42 at last year's World Cup and was the fifth-highest run-scorer in that tournament. And all this while opening the batting.

So, what is de Mel talking about? What does a fast bowler, who last played for Sri Lanka 26 years ago, know about batting technique? Perhaps de Mel should leave a batsman's technique to be assessed by qualified coaches, or former batsmen even, and stick to the facts when picking a team.


Anon's picture

Going back to 2007 World Cup, this is the same chairman of selectors who replaced 'Marvan Atapattu' (one of the 2 best openers in Cricinfo's All Time Sri Lankan XI) from a relatively new guy called 'Upul Tharanga'....After 5 years (after Upul matured and cemented his place as an opener by scoring lots of centuries) what is this man talking about ?...That means you just wanted to take revenge from Maravn by backing Upul at that time? Or has Upul gone backwards since 2007 world cup?

Anonymous's picture

[This comment has been deleted.]

Stormy's picture
Member since:
15 January 2011
Last activity:
53 min 34 sec

Strangely I had the same impression as De Mel (thankfully that was short lived similarity)- that Tharanga has a technical deficiency outside the off stump - that was till I just checked his stats. His away average is better than at home and his average in Eng, SA and Aus is better than most! I am not sure why I had this perception that he would struggle against a good opening bowler but does really well on dead tracks. The stats certainly doest support that view. This begs the question why he should'nt be given a test opportunity given his experience and he is still fairly young.

May be its to do with Mahela's preference to open the batting. I feel that experiment (all be it successful) should go no further than the T20 WC. SL needs some stability at the top of the order and Mahela taking up that spot is not helping building for the future - unless of course Mahela is harbouring thoughts for the next WC!

Anonymous's picture

You are right Stormy.The ugly duo is working together.First they sent Attapattu home.Now they are working to send Tharanga home.Some fools say this MJ is materclass! It is evident only that he is selfish and very, very greedy.Ugly.No need to comment on that joker de Mel.The thief of money that belong to public of Sri Lanka.

Munwa me thanathu walata path karapu unta hena gahanna ona!!!!!!!

faumi mansoor's picture

Demel is a dirty person, as said he revenged marvan for no reason he droped him.Now he says maharoof and.... droped as dilhara and .... recovered from injury. God knows... even a fully fit Dilhara can win matches for opposition team.

Hilal's picture
Member since:
20 November 2008
Last activity:
41 min 20 sec

I chose to leave comment #2 up because I think it's hilarious.

It's a joke when you hear people claiming that an opening batsman who has 12 ODI centuries (two in England and one in New Zealand) has "technical problems".


Hilal's picture
Member since:
20 November 2008
Last activity:
41 min 20 sec

Every Sri Lankan batsman is a flat track bully. How many excel on seamer-friendly tracks? Perhaps only Sangakkara.

Anonymous's picture

look hilal, i have agreed with most of your points but with this one, no mate. yes he have scored 12 centuries, but how often have you seen him not middling the ball, so demel is spot on if he is not good against the swinging ball, he is not a good opener doesnt matter how stylish cricketer he is. And also one more thing i think fitness levels of players plays a major role in their performance specially in tharanga's case. I too agree he is a gifted batsman but he should be able to middle the ball right??

UppercuT's picture
Member since:
19 October 2011
Last activity:
2 years 4 weeks

@hilal u do present some valuable stats regarding tharanga's value as an ODI opener. but.....
as the history of cricket tells us, being a great ODI player DOES NOT necessarily make him successful at the TEST level:

most famous example for this, was MICHAEL BEVAN of AUS, who had one of the best records ever in ODI, BUT never made at the test level(he played only 18 tests) due to this weakness against short pitched deliveries;

another example is ADAM GILCHRIST, who opened in ODIs for AUS, but batted 6-down in tests, due to his limited technique against the red kookaburra ball.

my point is we cannot alone judge a player's technique on his successful ODI record, having said dat, I DONT BELIEVE THARANGA HAS GOT MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO PROVE HIMSELF AT TEST LEVEL,(like kapu and mubarak did) so he DESERVES another shot!

(Last edited by UppercuT on May 30, 2012 - 01:05)
Hilal's picture
Member since:
20 November 2008
Last activity:
41 min 20 sec


I did not mention anything about Tests. They want to demote Tharanga to the middle order in ODIs. The decision does not appear to be based on facts - fans should question this.

What would you guys say if the next group of selectors feel Chandimal has a bad technique, so he should only play in T20s? That's the kind of decision-making taking place here.

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