Young Brigade’s Success in Pakistan exposes SLC, Asantha De Mel

Written by Sumit Seth

Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Shehan Jayasuriya, Wanindu Hasaranga and Oshada Fernando – the architects of Sri Lanka’s remarkable 3-0 win against Pakistan – were supposed to play in the World Cup as well. However, a politically influenced Chief selector (Asantha De Mel), an incompetent board President (Shammi Silva) and a biased coach (Chandika Hathurusingha) deliberately picked a noncompetitive, depleted team for the mega event that eventually knocked out from the group stage. Thus, the credit for 3-0 miracle, that too against world’s number one ranked T20I side, goes to those fringe players, who put their heart and soul and played as a team. The credit also goes to support staff – including Interim coach Rumesh Ratnayake and consultant coach Jerome Jayaratne. The SLC administrators and selectors, especially Asantha De Mel, on the other hand, must be ashamed that all these years they were picking wrong players to fulfill their own agendas, by ignoring these genuine match winners. Shammi Silva, who’s platter is empty of any achievement in last seven months, is desperate to snatch the credit of team’s whitewash. However, it’s an insult of the young squad to praise SLC or Asantha De Mel for their historical achievement.

After Oshada played a scintillating knock in the 3rd T20I in Lahore to complete a remarkable 3-0 clean sweep, Chief selector Asantha De Mel compared him with legendary Mahela Jayawardene. Asantha stated that Oshada’s batting reminds him of Mahela, one of the most elegant batsman cricket has ever seen!

The world cricket, however, had identified Oshada as future superstar in March this year itself, when he was effortlessly smoking South African fast bowlers for towering sixes on their own backyard! He was the find of the year and was ready to mesmerize world cricket at the biggest stage!

However, the same Asantha De Mel curtailed Oshada’s world cup hopes by putting him as standby. The reasons were obvious. That Asantha De Mel is a politically appointed chief selector, is not a secret anymore! Obviously then, he had to obey instructions from his political godfathers to include certain players for the mega event. So, he put Oshada Fernando as standby, only to justify Angelo Perera’s inclusion as another standby. Insiders at Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) says that the SLC top administrators and Asantha De Mel have well planned and conspired to put Oshada’s career parallel to Angelo Perera! And it’s visible too! Whenever Oshada Fernando fails in a match by default, they brings Angelo Perera in the next game straightway!

Wanindu Hasaranga, who won man of the series award for his allround show against Pakistan, was the most unfortunate to miss the UK flight for the World Cup. His name was certain even before a hour prior to the announcement of the squad on April 18. However, he could not compete with politically influenced Jeevan Mendis, whom Asantha De Mel picked as spin bowling allrounder for the mega event!

Bhanuka Rajapaksa has shown his unmatched talent against Pakistan. He could have been the find of the world cup in UK for Sri Lanka. However, Asantha De Mel picked another politically influenced Milinda Siriwardena, by ignoring the elegant, yet destructive, left hander.

Both Jeevan Mendis and Milinda Siriwardena turned epic failures in the world cup and exposed Asantha De Mel biased selections!

Shammi Silva, meanwhile, played the much bigger role in allowing Asantha De Mel to pick these politically influenced players. Reason, Shammi himself is running SLC with the blessings of Sports Ministry, instead of his own ability. From the February 21st itself, Shammi Silva’s priorities were to promote his club CCC players, employees and members. Top of that he has an unwritten agreement with Sports Ministry that ‘You pick Ashan Priyanjan, we will pick Angelo Perera’. To protect Shammi and allow him to make upcoming lucrative TV rights deal on his own, his guardians suspended former SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala, but comfortably ignored that Shammi’s father was also an employee of Sporting Star! So, obviously, in return, Shammi had to allow all politically influenced players selection for the World Cup.

Shehan Jayasuriya, on the other hand, was a victim of Chandika Hathurusingha’s favoritism. An elegant left-hand batsman and equally effective off spinner, Shehan has been one of the most consistent performer in domestic cricket for last five years. However, for some mysterious reasons, he could never become one of Hathurusingha’s favourite. That not only prevented him to take UK flight for the world cup, but also in larger picture has destroyed at least four best years of Shehan’s cricket career.

For the Pakistan tour also, SLC and Asantha De Mel were knocking the doors of all those 10 senior players, who refused eventually. The same Asantha De Mel, who is praising Oshada Fernando now, was trying to convince even Dinesh Chandimal for the Pakistan tour. Only when top 10 players refused to play, Asantha De Mel led selection committee selected these fringe players, who have now not only created a history, but have also slapped hard on SLC and Asantha De Mel’s face.

What Dasun Shanaka led side has achieved in Pakistan, must be considered as one of the greatest triumph in Sri Lanka cricket history! From now onwards, Dasun Shanaka has emerged as most obvious choice to captain Sri Lanka in shortest format. From now onwards, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Shehan Jayasuriya, Wanindu Hasaranga and Oshada Fernando deserves a permanent place in all three formats. However, it will be an absolute insult of their remarkable achievement, if SLC and Asantha De Mel also asks for a share of credit!

About the author

Sumit Seth