I did not select any Sri Lanka squad says head Selector | Sunday Observer

I did not select any Sri Lanka squad says head Selector

29 November, 2020
Lahiru Udara  Igalagamage
Lahiru Udara Igalagamage

It has been reported that 26 year old NCC opening batsman and wicket keeper and highest domestic runs scorer Lahiru Udara Igalagamage and the highest wicket taker 24 year old left arm spinner Duvindu Tillekaratne (son of former Sri Lanka Test captain Hashan Tillekaratne) have been dropped from the 22 man Test squad, in a shocking move for the upcoming two Tests tour of South Africa.

According to the normal procedure when a batsman goes out of form while representing the Sri Lanka team either in Test, One day or T20s, he will be dropped by the selectors and made to play domestic cricket to regain his form.

It is then highly shocking to ask who discarded the in-form Udara who is the highest run getter with 1039 runs that includes three hundreds and six half centuries averaging 80 and the highest wicket taker with 61 scalps Tillekaratne who has a fabulous average of 19.06, while his strike rate per wicket stands at a creditable 31.18 including five five-wicket hauls at the recently concluded Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Major Premier League ‘A’ Division Inter-Club tournament in 2019/20 season.

The other question doing the rounds is how did Lahiru Thirimanne who averages a mediocre 22 in Test cricket while playing for 10 years find a place in the 22-member squad.

But more shocking is the inclusion of the out-of-form wicketkeeper batsman Niroshan Dikwella who only kept wickets in four out of 10 matches for NCC and scored only 88 runs with an appalling average of 17.60.

Another wicket keeper batsman who had been selected ahead of Udara, is Minod Banuka of CCC who played as an opener and number three batsman scoring 676 runs with two hundreds and three fifties. The whole SLC Major Premier League tournament has now been made a mockery. Experts are now questioning why Udara, also a wicket-keeper batsman, was left out and the out-of-form Dickwella and the lesser performing Minod Bhanuka selected for the South Africa tour.

On the same count why was Tillekaratne with the highest number of 61 wickets in the concluded Premier League, also discarded while the off colour left arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya who performed poorly for NCC this 2019/20 Premier League tournament has also found a place in the 22 man squad to tour South Africa by claiming just eight wickets in five games with a poor average of 56.00. His strike rate per wicket stands at a shocking 108.75.

When the 22-member tour party was selected on November 11, the Chairman of Selectors Ashantha De Mel and the rest of the selectors were not officially appointed nor their new stint approved.

The million dollar question then is which hierarchy selected this squad without having any official power.

“We didn’t do any official selection as there was no official selectors at that moment. Head coach Mickey Arthur ran the 22 names with me and that’s it. This is just Mickey’s thoughts of what should be the combination. I just looked at it and it is a good squad.

“But officially we can’t select the squad at the moment. Finally the squad has to be selected by the selectors and send to the Ministry of Sports 20 days prior to the team’s departure to get it approved and it’s the normal rule,” said De Mel. Speaking to the Sunday Observer former Sri Lanka opener and team manager and present BRC Director of Coaching Charith Senanayake said the selections were unacceptable.

“The selection criteria for young cricketers in Sri Lanka to get into the National team is undoubtedly the SLC Premier League tournament.

“When you overlook the Premier League’s highest run scorer Udara and the highest wicket taker Tillekaratne, then it will really have a negative impact on players who are playing in the Premier tournament.

“It is baffling why they should give off their best in this tournament if the outcome is not conducive in the end. This will create a very bad impression on players minds to why they should give off their best in this tournament considered First Class. This will really ruin the credibility and the real value of this tournament in the end,” said Senanayake.