Courageous selectors show their flying colours | Sunday Observer

Courageous selectors show their flying colours

28 April, 2019

So the days of reckoning and great expectations have ended and firstly our bouquets go to the selectors – Ashantha de Mel (Chairman), Brendon Kuruppu, Chaminda Mendis and Hemantha Wickremaratne for a job well done, picking a firing squad of cricketers for the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales beginning next month.

As usual the selectors will have their share of critics, some knowledgeable, some for the sake of criticising and yet others playing blind man’s buff. But the Selectors have been facing more vicious bouncers playing out in the middle where it matters most, and will duck their venomous critics turning their ‘backs’ to them.

The Selectors once they are propelled to the hot seats, are aware that they can’t please everyone. They have the game, the player and the country at heart and they do their best to perform this sacred job to the best of their ability. It must be remembered that no one is infallible. Ashantha de Mel went to great lengths to explain the permutations that went into their final selections and this columnist having played the game at the highest levels and reported and commented on the game for well over half a century, is in full agreement with the selections and have no holes to pick for the sake of picking.

First to captain-elect Dimuth Karunaratne. As I have always said and to reiterate, captaincy is 90 per cent luck and 10 per cent skill. And that Karunaratne has these two vital ingredients in great measure was proved when he led the country to an epoch-making Test series victory against South Africa in their own backyard.

After his success in SA this column rooted for him to lead the World Cup team. Besides his innate talent, he has that certain smile that radiates confidence that is so very essential on his team and which allows them the freedom to perform. I also said that the Selectors must ask him to show a bit more aggression because this is a different style of game. We wish Karunaratne success in his bid to bring home the prestigious World Cup.

Apparently the Selectors would have preferred the experienced Angelo Mathews to lead the team. But according to Mathews the gentleman that he is, he informed the Selectors that he could not hit it off with coach Chandika Hathurusinghe and would not want to be considered. How many others would be so humble to do what Mathews did? When others would even go to the extent of killing each other to sport the captaincy crown of the country which lesser mortals would crave for and even bend backwards to wear the captaincy crown, Mathews made it known that it was the success of the team that mattered most and his humble refusal. He has captained the country’s World Cup team once and he showed the sport in him by being ever willing to be a team man and contribute for the success of a team led by his Josephian colleague.

The country needs more gentlemen of Mathews calibre. As for Lasith Malinga’s claim, de Mel explained it in simple prose by saying that he was afforded every opportunity to prove his credentials but failed. De Mel admitted that he has a sound cricket brain, sets good fields, but lacked the most vital aspect and that is to get the team to jell together that is so very important in a team game. Malinga need not be disappointed. He was given all the respect, recognition and support by the Selectors and it was just bad luck that he failed to deliver.

There was gossip that if he was not given the captaincy, he would pull out of the tour squad. But this was just loose talk by ‘book cricketers’ who have their agendas and other than criticizing the Selectors for the sake of doing so and bringing disunity among the team, have nothing constructive to offer. By not pulling out, Malinga has shown the gentleman and sport in him and is a shining example. During his reign as the king of pace, swing and foot fracturing yorkers if struck, wickets in the form of four wickets in four balls, hat tricks and bags of wickets came his way in all formats of the game.

He was a draw card in the game in which ever country he showcased his wares or opposition he played with his peculiar action, tinted curly locks and many youngsters in the cricket world wanted to emulate him and clone him. He is playing his last World Cup and is sure to unleash his pent up fury and make opposing batsmen in the WC to pay for it.

One has nothing but sympathy for the non-inclusion of stylish and quick scoring right hander Dinesh Chandimal and former mystery spinner Akila Dhananjaya. As for Chandimal being left out, here again although not having to, de Mel went to lengths to explain the reasons for his non-inclusion which makes sense. Dhananjaya seemed to be the only bowler who could single-handedly bowl Sri Lanka to victory in all for formats of the game until disaster struck with his action being questioned. He went through the whole gamut of correcting his action and once cleared seemed to have lost all his venom and sting. Not many bowlers have maintained their wicket-taking abilities once called and actions corrected. That the flaws in his bowling was not spotted early in his career and corrected is a sad indictment on our bowing coaches and the system. He must be dejected and disappointed and his bowling coaches from school, to club to national level should pocket the blame.

[email protected]