After ruining Sri Lanka’s World Cup squad with political influenced selections, Asantha De Mel, on Saturday against New Zealand, messed up everything again with his illogical selection of playing eleven.
One month ago, career of Jeevan Mendis, the leg spin allrounder, at 36, was going nowhere. He had long been discarded by the selection committee and there was no realistic chance of him making into the World Cup squad, especially when a 21 year old Wanindu Hasaranga, also a leg spin allrounder, was making big strides through domestic competitions. In last six months, Wanindu proved his mettle as a big hitter as well and he was well placed to earn a World Cup call, even until just two hours before the selection of the squad, that took place on April 17.
However, when Asantha De Mel led selection committee announced the squad, Wanindu name was not there. He lost the world cup race to 36 year old Jeevan Mendis!
It was yet another classic example of how Asantha De Mel operates as chief selector. His selection criteria is quite clear: a player with a political influence always gets nod ahead of other players.
Jeevan Mendis had the backing of a son of a top politician! 21 year old Wanindu had only cricketing skills!
That ‘politically brought‘ Jeevan Mendis had a terrible outing in the First World Cup match against a mighty New Zealand, with both bat and ball (out for 1, and bowled only 1.1 over)
The bigger issue, though, for Sri Lanka is that Jeevan Mendis is not alone in the world cup squad, who brought himself into the team, using ‘external‘ powers. Milinda Siriwardena is also in the squad, who brought himself into the squad in the last one hour on April 17, when Asantha De Mel had announced the team. Then, there is Angelo Perera, who has been put as stand by and will certainly be brought back into the squad, if a player gets injured.
Siriwardena, also a bit and piece player like Jeevan Mendis, enjoys close rapport with another top politician’s family.
Sri Lanka’s yesterday’s drubbing, however, was a result of illogical selection of Asantha De Mel. Not only in selecting the squads, Asantha perfectly messed up in picking the playing eleven as well.
Opting for Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimane, Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya De Silva in the same playing eleven is nothing sort of a suicidal attempt, as all these batsmen are test specialists. In a tournament, where team like West Indies and England are playing with five-six batsmen with a strike rate more than hundred, Sri Lanka, against New Zealand, preferred these batsmen, who makes their runs with 70+ strike rate!
In most ideal scenario, even if these four batsmen scores hundreds or fifties, Sri Lanka won’t be able to cross 250 mark, which is definitely a sub standard total in this world cup.
More worryingly, there is no one to stop Asantha De Mel. As Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) has powered Asantha to cut coach Chandika Hathurasingha, now he has become another headache. He is the chairman of selectors, manager for the World Cup and is also the unofficial spokesperson of the team! More worryingly, as Hathuru has now limited himself only to coaching and collecting 6 million salary pay from the SLC, there is no one in the dressing room, who can advice Asantha De Mel and point out towards his blunders.
And, SLC, is anyway, not interested in these sort of things. Right now, the SLC administration’s sole focus is to make world cup a grand event by providing UK trip opportunities to everyone who helped them in retaining the power at Maitland place.
More than that, SLC has already safeguarded itself by appointing Dimuth Karunaratne as world cup captain! It was a move to put the ball on ‘Sri Lanka Cricket newest Messiah’s court (that messiah was also in the stands yesterday to watch the match, however this time he didn’t make his trip publicly), so after the possible world cup debacle, it would be easy for them to put all the blame on him!
Thus, Asantha De Mel is most likely to continue with his team selection blunders. And, the ongoing policy of ‘You approve Dimuth Karunaratne, I approve Ashan Priyanjan‘ is certainly going to destroy all the hopes of Sri Lanka fans, who still believes in their team, even without knowing that what’s happening behind the scene!