Kalana Perera ‘nudges’ the selectors | Sunday Observer

Kalana Perera ‘nudges’ the selectors

SOS! Wanted All-Rounders for the World Cup. The ideal cricketers for this style of game are all-rounders. The only one who has the credentials of being called an all rounder is Thisara Perera. But he lacks consistency, a prerequisite from a batsman or a bowler.

A captain will always yearn for all-rounders. It will make it easy to make his job that much easier and enjoyable. But sadly our cricket lacks these styles of players which is a sad indictment on the system.

The cricket selectors headed by former all-rounder Ashantha de Mel and comprising Chaminda Mendis, Hemantha Wickremaratne and Brendon Kuruppu have dared, acted fearlessly with the success of the game at heart and have earned encomiums from those who matter. The selectors when picking the squad for the World Cup will do well to have S.Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia all rounder Kalana Perera in their frame and seriously consider him as a viable member in the Sri Lanka squad. Kalana is a classy all rounder and in addition is a left arm new ball bowler who bowls the fast bowlers’ variety. Left arm fast bowlers don’t come that easy.

In Perera they have an all-rounder who can go places if given the break. In addition to his effectiveness with the ball he is a sound left hand bat and a safe fielder. He showed his capabilities in the ’Big Match’ against Royal College by playing leading roles in all aspects in helping his school to victory after 12 years. He maintained consistency throughout the season and also has a bag of 10 wickets in an innings. In the ‘Big match’ he had a match bag of 9 wickets- 6 in the first innings and 3 in the second and scored a solid half century.

Rare all-round abilities in abundance

Sri Lanka are having two left armers in Vishwa Fernando and Isuru Udana in South Africa. But they are not capable of contributing with the bat. So it will be good if the selectors could see reason and have Kalana in their radar when sitting to pencil the squad to England for the all important World Cup. Parallels could be drawn by recalling the inclusion of Ranjan Madugalle and Sudath Pasqual of Royal and Roger Wijesuriya of St. Sebastian’s who the selectors dared and included in the 1979 World Cup squad when they were schoolboys. At the time of writing the team in South Africa has gifted the five match one day series 3-0 and the South Africans will be looking to make a clean sweep by winning the remaining two and heaping shame on the visitors. The Lankans seem to be sadly lacking commitment. There was also a bit of humour when a catch skied by South African batsman Phehlukwayo fell in-between two fielders with the fielders cursing each other. Didn’t the huge home crowd break into laughter. Fielding coach Steve Rixon would have been flabbergasted.

In the ongoing one-day series in South Africa of utmost interest is watching Sri Lanka’s mystery spinner Akila Dhananjay performing now that he has been given the green light to ply his trade after having his action corrected. At the time of writing and watching him bowl in the first three games, it was obvious that he has lost his bite, sting and vicious spin he carried before being called for a suspect action. He now seems to be an ‘also played ‘ and the selectors will do well to look for a spinner capable of getting among the wickets. While most countries have a leg spinner who bowls variety, Sri Lanka sadly lacks a leg spinner.

Where’s Seekkugge Prassana and Jeffrey Vandersay? Dhananjaya who had a dream run as a spinner blessed with the ability of bowling a variety of deliveries that bemused and baffled batsmen, suddenly had his dream run stalled when he was reported for a suspect action. He was put through the gamut of testing that every bowler reported for a suspect action has to go through and that he was finally cleared was godsend which prompted the selectors to immediately jet him to Protea land to bolster the mediocre attack in the one-day series. Before misfortune struck and he was ‘called’ he was easily the best spinner we had who had a variety and the ability to run through the best of batting line ups in both innings and be a match winner.

In today’s local scene finding a spinner who could run through teams in both innings is like looking for a needle in a haystack.Watching Dhananjaya bowl in the one dayers against the South Africans, it was obvious that he has lost his big spin, venom and sting which must be worrying to the selectors, what with not much time left to find a spinner of his caliber before the World Cup. But all is not lost. We are not trying to belittle the spinner, but he must be aware that out of all spinners who were ‘called’ only Muttiah Muralitheran cocked a snook at his detractors by continuing to bowl like he originally did and demolish batting line ups. Other spinners who were ‘called’ once they had their actions modified were not the same again and had the mortification of being dropped from the team and international cricket. There will be no question that Dhananjaya will be Sri Lanka’s trump card in their endeavour to win the World Cup in England and Wales, if he can bowl like old. His coaches will have to manage him and restore his old magic and direct him.

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