Sanga stresses need for continuity in selections


Kumar Sangakkara

by Rex Clementine

Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara has stressed the need for continuity in selections and longer duration for members of the national selection panel in a bid to retain consistency in selections. The national selection panel announced the World Cup squad on Thursday and sprung quite a few surprises by recalling five players who had not featured in an ODI for the last 18 months.

"I think it’s very important that there’s continuity in selection. A minimum of three years or maybe four years should be given for a panel to implement what they need. Everyone in the set up, the coaching staff, management, selectors and everyone need time to settle in, identify what players’ roles are and then work out a blueprint. You will have more than a four year cycle with your lower teams. But a very good long term vision and structure and strategy is needed from one World Cup to another," Sangakkara told Sunday Island.

"Stability is something that has been lacking in this four year cycle. It has affected everyone quite negatively. Now that there is finally a squad that has been announced and whether people agree with the selections or not, it is time to support the players who are chosen for the World Cup."

Sangakkara retired from ODIs exactly four years ago after the last World Cup. In the 2015 event, in seven games, he scored 541 runs at an average of 108 and a strike rate of 105. That included four successive hundreds, a new World Record.

"The last two years have been tumultuous years for the players. They have had an incredible time in Test cricket winning in South Africa, but in ODIs they have struggled. There’s been a lot of turnover of players. Planning for a World Cup one and half years ahead you want to have a settled squad and settled mindset and what their roles are going to be. What are the realistic targets going to be for the World Cup selections? That is the key in early identification of the squad. World Cup is once in four years and you want your players in form."

Sangakkara kept wickets for Sri Lanka in the last four World Cups. He has 54 dismissals in World Cups, a record that is unlikely to be broken this time around as his closest rival M.S. Dhoni only has 32 dismissals. For this World Cup, Niroshan Dickwella was one of the players groomed. He kept wickets across all three formats for the last 24 months and suddenly he finds himself out of the side.

"I thought that Dickwella had done enough to justify his position. He is an attacking batsman and he could score runs quickly. However, the selectors think otherwise and they have entrusted every player a job. In any selected squad you will have differences of opinions. Everyone will have disagreements and agreements and now that that the squad is finalized we need to get behind the team and support them," Sangakkara went onto say.

"We have some players who have not been in the side for the last two years and that’s because we have not had a settled team for those two years. The selectors and coaching staff need to be on the same page and should have a long term forward thinking strategy. Two years before the World Cup or 18 months prior to that, you will have to have the core of your team and then you might introduce couple of players due to injuries and stuff. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka there was never enough time to put that long term strategy in place. We need to have an agreement between all stake holders how we should move forward."

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