Consistency and patience from selectors key to World Cup success for Sri Lanka

By Kristopher Hinz | August 24, 2018

Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors Graeme Labrooy
Graeme Labrooy was appointed Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors in 2017. © AFP

Sri Lanka have been on a dreadful losing streak in the ODI format, with the team not having completed a series win in their last nine bilateral ODI series, and this includes a 3-2 loss to lower-ranked Zimbabwe at home.

Sri Lankan cricket greats Muttiah Muralitharan, Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga and Mahela Jayawardene have all been critical of the lack of patience shown by selectors, and have highlighted the need to not make changes to the side as often as they have.

"I did not become a champion bowler in one day. For 4-5 years, Arjuna kept giving me the confidence. That's how I became who I am," Muralitharan said earlier this year.

"Now every time a batsman goes out to bat he is told you have to score or else we will bench you. The same is true for bowlers. In the last one year Sri Lanka has fielded some 60 players across all formats. 60 players in one year! This is irrational and tells you there is no vision how the game should be run. Such frequent chopping and changing will only end up destroying the game further."

Sri Lanka's selectors have experimented with the opening batting combinations in ODIs, with Sadeera Samarawickrama, Sandun Weerakkody, Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathillaka, Dinesh Chandimal, Upul Tharanga and Dilshan Munaweera all being trialled since January 2017.

Constant changes to the ODI batting order should be a worry ahead of the World Cup next year, and it's worth noting Sri Lanka's most-recent victories in the final two ODIs against South Africa were set up by solid opening partnerships.

Dickwella and Tharanga have of late been allowed the opportunity to play through a series, and they've begun to deliver. Such consistency in selections could be crucial to Sri Lanka performing well in the World Cup in England in 2019, and patience by the selectors contributes greatly to on-field performances.

On the other end of the scale, five batsmen have played a single match in the opening slot for less than 20 runs in the last two years; Munaweera scored 11 against India in August 2017, Weerakkody scored five in the January 2017 series against South Africa, Avishka Fernando and Samarawickrama both recorded ducks in their only attempts at opening the innings. Even Chandimal has been tried in a solitary match as an opener against India in August 2017.

After the 2015 World Cup, former Sri Lanka skipper Jayawardene admitted that not grooming an opening batting combination well before that World Cup was a mistake.

"This was one of the areas of the batting that we should have tightened up and decided on much earlier," Jayawardene told Island Cricket. "We should have found someone to partner with [Tillakaratne] Dilshan earlier on so that there was more consistency in the opening pairing, but this is a lesson we will hopefully learn from."

Thankfully, with the World Cup six months away, Dickwella and Tharanga finally seem to have been given the opportunity to find some rhythm at the crease and develop chemistry in their partnership.

Sri Lankan fans will be hoping the selectors have learned from the blunders of the past and show maturity, so that the team will be spared embarrassing blushes and possibly even pull off an upset or two at the 2019 World Cup.

© Island Cricket


Stormy's picture
Member since:
15 January 2011
Last activity:
23 hours 11 min

We certainly hope so (that the selectors have learnt) but seriously doubt it! But yes we have done the merry go around job after Dilshan left and have come up with nothing. So it's time to settle on 2, may be 3 options and just stick with them in the hope that by the WC two of them will have the confidence to make it. Lets not fool our selves by thinking we are going to win the WC in Eng where 300+ scores on small grounds will be chased down by conventional batters. Lets select a few stroke makers and stick with them.

For example we cannot play Chandi, Tharaga and Anji in the top 5 in the same team. Tharanga of late is showing some genuine hitting but Chandi and Anji are still blocking. We don't need to argue this just look at who is batting how in the opposition teams if we are still struggling to get the tactics. Also we have played with these 3 for over an year and go no where so lets not do the same thing expecting a different outcome.

Either these 3 senior guys need to change their game plan and take control of the batting or we need to look elsewhere. I would still stick with Anji regardless but the other two need to play a role looking for 300+ or not play.

I like the idea of the two Kusals (Mendis and Perera) and the big hitters in Tissera and Dasun in the middle order, Akila and Lakmal pick themselves. I would also look at Danushka and Dhana as batters who offer some overs to balance the team and we are done. Lets mess about trying another 30 players before the WC. I think it's safe to say there is no hidden talent hiding that is capable of winning us the WC!

A .Ranaweera 's picture

Sorry I have my doubts of the current Chief Selector he needs to be paitent with players. U cannot find consistancy within few matches. So needs to get the required standard players in first then give them a fair run to perform.

So does the selectors have the required selection standards who will check this who will question them .just cause u have played few matches for Sri Lanka does not mean you are good selector. we just don't criticise we do constructive criticism only for the betterment of SL Cricket. Cause we love SL Cricket( please not SL Cricket Board for which no love at all)

Anonymous's picture

Chief selector should go home. what is the point in having a chief selector who does not know how to find a team of 11 players who can play international cricket with international standard not school boy standard,

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