Sri Lanka need different set of players for all 3 formats, not captains

Written by N Krishnamurthy

By picking Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva in preliminary T20I squad but not in ODIs, former Sri Lanka International Upul Tharanga led selection committee has Immediately proved it’s logical and visionary bankruptcy, same as his predecessor Pramodaya Wickramasinghe and his clones. Bhanuka Rajapaksha’s out of nowhere recalling and separate captains for different formats stratgey also suggests that this selection committee is going to be no difference from the previous one. With it’s outdated cricket playing style and tactics, what Sri Lanka need most right now is – to identify and groom different set of players for each format separately, not the captains!

36 year old Mathews last played T20I for Sri Lanka almost three seasons ago – against West Indies in March 2021. His T20I statistics are ordinary at best – an average of 25 and strike rate of 117 being a middle order batter. However, amid a change in the selection committee, he has surprisingly found his name in the preliminary T20I squad for home series against Zimbabwe this month!

Dhananjaya de Silva’s shortest format figures are no difference from Mathews – an average of 20 and a strike rate of 117 being a middle order batter suggests he is also a misfit for T20. However, same as Mathews, he has also been Included in the preliminary squad.

Bhanuka Rajapaksha’s Inclusion is more baffling and mysterious. Having not played for Sri Lanka for almost a year, he has suddenly been recalled. While India dares to discard all time legends like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in T20s, while eyeing on forming a youngsters dominated side for this year’s World Cup in USA, Upul Tharanga led selection committee has included 30 plus Mathews, Dhananjaya and Bhanuka, that too against a team like Zimbabwe!

Ideally, if at all, Mathews and Dhananjaya should have been Included in ODI preliminary squad, not in T20. Ideally, Bhanuka should have not been Included at all, as he has not done anything significant in domestic cricket to earn a recall and is a player who believes more on God messenger’s miracle than his own ability.

Ideally, Upul Tharanga led selection committee should have presented a fresh thinking and vision. Especially a team like Zimbabwe as opponent had given them a golden opportunity to experiment.

Ideally, Instead of picking separate captains, selectors should have tried to form a new set of players for all three formats, regardless of the outcome (anyway Sri Lanka are languishing in the bottom in all three ICC rankings).

They can easily justify their selection by saying it’s only a preliminary squad. However, in it’s first selection itself, Upul Tharanga led selection committee has indicated that It’s another visionless panel. They need to understand that, at 36, Mathews is suitable only for tests now. They need to realize that Dhananjaya, a technically perfect batter, is not for T20 style batting. They need to figure out which format is best suitable to groom a priceless young gem like Dulith Wellalage. They need to understand not all players who represent their countries are skilled enough to play all formats simultaneously. Quite a few seem to specialize in one format, but not so much in other formats. They need to understand each format of cricket demands a different set of skills, knowledge, and strategies from players.

In all, If Upul Tharanga and Co. really Intends to make a mark, they Immediately need to learn from Indian selectors, who recently fielded 6-7 newcomers in every match in T20I against a powerhouse team like South Africa, that too on their home soil. That’s how, you form world class teams!

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N Krishnamurthy