by Rex Clementine
The Cricket Committee chaired by former great Aravinda de Silva and comprising some of the finest brains to have played the game is one of the best things to have happened for the game in the last ten years. Methodically, they seem to be building up a structure which will make domestic cricket and the game at grass root levels stronger and it will help in the longer run. But there are also one or two areas they need to bring their expertise in and maybe put their foot down. They simply can not let amateurs handle key aspects of the sport.
You can understand the fact that the Cricket Committee does not want to interfere in selections but certain things they can not simply let go. At the moment, there is little clarity on some of the selections that are being done. Even K.M. Nelson, not the most popular cricket selector around, would have fared better.
Sri Lanka’s batting looked thin in England where they failed to bat out their 50 overs. Now that Kusal Janith Perera is out of the series, batting looks even thinner. There are just four front line batsmen for the 50 over format and it remains to be seen what’s the team’s strategy going to be to utilize their full quota of overs leave alone beating India. Against the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal this is going to be a tough ask.
Some say that this is a second string Indian team and Sri Lanka should fare better but make no mistake. This is a well drilled side under Rahul Dravid, who is known for his meticulous planning. Having tasted success with India Under-19 team and the ‘A’ team, this is Dravid’s first international exposure and he would be wanting to prove his credentials that he is the right man to take over the senior side from Ravi Shastri.
Sri Lanka’s planning has to improve leaps and bounds. You can be assured that some schools that are playing cricket do much better planing than the national cricket team. Here’s why. With KJP on the mend, the indications were that he was going to miss out on the series. The authorities did not bother to include a wicketkeeper in the squad.
Eventually, Minod Bhanuka was pulled out from the Dambulla bubble and rushed to Colombo. But giving someone who has featured in just one ODI a mere 48 hours ahead of the game is poor planning. It is like asking Basil Rajapaksa to fix the economy in two months.
It was also strange that KJP had to be named in the squad and then we had to be told that that he is injured. Media reported that KJP will not be part of the series two days before the squad was announced.
The selectors seem to be not keen to pick the players who are on war path. So leaving out the likes of Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne and all others is understandable. But then, should they have picked some of the players like Roshen Silva, Angelo Perera or Ashan Priyanjan. They had been already in a bubble and surely once KJP was out, at least one of them should have been retained.
The first ODI will get underway today at RPS. All games will be played at RPS. The T-20 will follow the ODIs.
Selectors set to be first casualties post World Cup
by Rex Clementine
Members of the national selection panel are set to be the first casualties post World Cup in which the national cricket team had a disastrous campaign. Despite Sri Lanka finishing ninth in the ten-team event and failing to qualify for the Champions Trophy, none holding key positions within the national cricket team had stepped down.
Although previous Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe and other bodies attached to the Sports Ministry were keen to change the selection panel headed by former fast bowler Pramodya Wickremasinghe, there was tough resistance from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).
However, with Harin Fernando taking charge as Sports Minister following the dismissal of Ranasinghe, Fernando had discussed changes moving forward with fresh thinking coming in.
Accordingly, SLC will advertise for selectors and in due time will pick a competent team.
Under Pramodya, Sri Lanka ended up playing three qualifying round tournaments to go through for ICC events, a trend that had never happened previously.
The selectors decision to bench half a dozen seniors from the white ball sides also didn’t go down too well and eventually they had to bite the bullet and fall back on the likes of Angelo Mathews. However, one of the finest all-rounders Sri Lanka had Thisara Perera had quit international cricket by then.
Former captain Marvan Atapattu had been approached to take over as new Chief Selector, but The Island learns that he had declined the role and wasn’t keen to be involved in cricket in any capacity at the moment.
Former fast bowler Ashantha de Mel is a possible candidate to become the Chief Selector again. De Mel has had several stints with the last being from 2019 to 2021 and the highlight during his tenure was Sri Lanka becoming the first Asian nation to win a Test series in South Africa.
It remains to be seen which other former cricketers will apply for the post of selectors.
SLC is also likely to not renew the contracts of several individuals within the coaching set up of the national cricket team. However, former captain and Consultant Coach Mahela Jayawardene is likely to get an extension despite an embarrassing World Cup campaign, Sri Lanka’s worst since 1999.
Sri Lanka’s next campaign will be the bilateral white ball series against Zimbabwe at home in January. All key slots are expected to be filled by that series.
Colombo South win Under 15 Youth League final in style
by Reemus Fernando
Royal College batsman Rehan Peiris scored his second century, a run-a-ball 129 for Colombo South Under 15s before their bowlers produced a combined effort to record a comfortable 86 runs victory against Colombo North in the Sri Lanka Cricket conducted Under 15 Youth League final at MCA ground on Wednesday.
Chasing a target of 257 runs to win, Colombo North played second fiddle and were never in the hunt as they lost wickets at regular intervals. Sadeesha Silva resisted anchoring the innings with 47 runs but he lacked support from the rest. Yenula Dantanarayana and Lahiru Lakmal made 20s.
For the winners Holy Cross College, Kalutara spinner Himaru Deshan and Cambrian Rusandu Silva bowled tight spells. Deshan and Silva gave away just 27 and 22 runs respectively during their quota of ten overs. Both took one wicket each. Deshan, who ended up as the highest wicket taker of the tournament had three maidens in his ten overs. Janul Damhiru who shared the new ball with Dunitha Anusara picked up two wickets. Anusara, Yasaru Praveen and Matheesha Aponso picked up one wicket each.
Earlier deciding to bat first, Colombo South lost their first wicket for 11 runs. But a second wicket stand of 110 runs between Peiris and Lasiru Sandakan (Royal, Panadura) provided a solid base for them to post a formidable total. After Sandakan was dismissed for 40 runs Peiris joined St. Peter’s wicketkeeper batsman Jason Fernando to post 96 runs for the third wicket.
Peiris scored ten sixes and five fours in his innings, while Fernando made 19 runs.
Colombo South consisted of players from Royal, Colombo, Royal, Panadura, D.S. Senanayake, Colombo, St. Peter’s, Bambalapitiya, Prince of Wales, Holy Cross, Kalutara, C.W.W. Kannangara and Walapura MV, Horana. They were captained by Thevindu Wewalwala of Royal College Colombo.
Dubai Lankans Rugby Club gears up for Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens
In an exciting pre-season development, the Dubai Lankans Rugby Club, with the President Mark Kirby at the helm is set to make waves in the upcoming rugby season. Known for his unwavering support, Kirby has been a pillar of strength for the players.
Coach Thusitha Dushan, a former Havlocks and national player, is determined to impart his wealth of experience, aiming to bring glory to the Lankan boys.
Manager Zalique Jayah, a former national and CH & FC player, is ensuring the Dubai Lankans Rugby Club stands out with a unique identity, fostering a rich culture and discipline within the team.
Adding a unique twist, both Thusitha and Jayah will join the team as players for their final chapter on the field. The leadership baton will be held by the highly experienced Dulaj Perera, a former Havlocks and national player, who expresses confidence in his team’s readiness to achieve greater heights.
Dubai Lankans will showcase some familiar faces from Sri Lanka rugby, including Sajith Saranga, who also serves as the deputy, along with Kevin Dixon, Ishan Fernando, and Sachith Silva.
Notably, the squad takes pride in being the only Sri Lankan club in the UAE featuring exclusively Sri Lankan players, making them a unique force in the region. The stage is set for Dubai Lankans to carve their mark in the upcoming Dubai sevens.
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