Cricket selectors in a dilemma | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Cricket selectors in a dilemma

The Sri Lanka Cricket selectors headed by Ashantha de Mel and comprising Brendon Kuruppu, Chaminda Mendis and Hemantha Wickremaratne will be in a dilemma when they sit to pick the squad for the World Cup in England and Wales in May/June.

We say this because going on the form of our cricketers now in South Africa they have been an absolute calamity and a big disappointment. Not one batsman or a bowler has shown consistency. As fielders they have more often than not been butter fingered.

On the current form of our cricketers in SA who are likely to be selected for the World Cup, none of them have the runs or wickets to forward as credentials for the selectors to go by and be selected. On what form the squad will be selected only the Selectors will know.

On the tours of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa the selectors sent players who were best suited for this style of the game and who the selectors trusted would perform and deliver and make the job of the selectors when picking the final squad for the World Cup that much easy.

Accepted and admired that we won the Test series against South Africa and earning plaudits as being the first Asian team to win a series in Protea land.

While that series win will go down in history, the main point in these tours was for the players to perform in the one dayers and front up to the selectors for selection to the World Cup. But that dream by the selectors has been wishful thinking.

From the opening batsmen to number 11, not one batsman has been consistent. Making 20s and 30s is not consistency. These scores should be made big ones and consistently at that to be called a success. The batsmen have the talent, but being proud of that is not what matters. Scoring heavily is the name of the game.

Going on the form and the failures to win one-day games in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa made one wag comment in jest that Sri Lanka Cricket write to the International Cricket Council and say they are unable to send a team because the cricketers would be just also-played and world not be fit for the contest.

One wonders whether the selectors erred or jumped the gun in appointing Lasith Malinga as captain for the World Cup. We have nothing against Malinga. But it is rarely that a bowler and a leading one at that, that has succeeded. A bowler captain would not know when to come on. And it is no different with Malinga.

Malinga is supposed to be the main strike weapon. But at the time of writing, Malinga has not delivered to expectations. He has dropped pace, lost the venom in his ‘yorkers’, rarely getting the ball to wobble and the early wickets expected from him have not been forthcoming. Can Sri Lanka afford to have Malinga as a failure or be called a tourist? The selectors will not be faulted if they look for a batting captain.

The only bowler who was also a great batsman who we remember captained a team and met with great success and that was before one-day cricket came into the scene was Australia’s mesmerizing leg spin/googly specialist Richie Benaud. He knew when to come on to bowl and when not to.

When batting first or chasing it is paramount that the opening batsmen produce a great opening for the batsmen following to consolidate. But the openers so far tried have been more flops than tops.

Niroshan ‘aiyo’ Dickwella seems to be in lost land and instead of going over the top, seems to be playing what we called when playing softball cricket ‘uda bat’. The immensely experienced Upul Tharanga and new comer Avishka Fernando have failed miserably.

With only two fielders allowed outside the circle in the first 10 overs none of the openers have been able to emulate that famous pair of Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharane who made mince meat of bowlers in those overs going over the top and putting on over 70/80 runs in the World Cup we won in 1995/96.

The pair laid the foundation and the batsmen who followed Asanka Gurusinha, Aravinda de Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga, Hashan Tillekeratne and Roshan Mahanama built on. There was also Chaminda Vaas, Kumara Dharmasena and Pramodaya Wickremasinghe who had the abilities of all rounders and who could wield the willow and make runs and success came naturally. How the selectors must be yearning for players of this caliber.

That World Cup winning team was a dream team. Every member realized and was aware of what was expected of him and they played their parts to perfection. Cricketers of that caliber will not come again.

The players were aware of their responsibilities and they played from out of their skins to bring credit and honour to the country. Having to meet Australia in the final further made them determined because of the torture the Australians put Muralitheran through by endeavouring to call him a ‘chucker’ and put him out of the game.

That team stood by their colleague and that ugly move by the Australians further rejuvenated and made the team determined to roast the kangaroos and that is exactly what they did in that epic final at the Gaddafi Stadium on that balmy night knocking the daylights off Mark Taylor’s hapless Aussies to win the World Cup and send the whole country into raptures with firecrackers sounding throughout the night.

The local cricket scene of today is bereft of cricketers of character and natural talent and other than for showing their heroics in the domestic scene are nowhere near international class. SAD.

Apparently the previous administration of Sri Lanka Cricket got their priorities wrong. If this is not so how can one explain the cricketers playing T20 cricket in South Africa when the need is 50-over cricket. Isn’t the World Cup 50 overs a side cricket?

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