Island Cricket

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sri Lanka paying for poor selections | The Island

"With two more games to go and with Sri Lanka's chances of making it to the best of three finals in the Commonwealth Bank Series beyond their reach, the selectors have plenty of issues to deal with in coming months.

Sri Lanka hardly look the side that took them to the finals of World Cup in the Caribbean last year. There hasn't been much change of faces in the team and they need to find out what has gone wrong with their batting".

Writes Rex Clementine for
The Island


The Sri Lankans have played six games so far in the competition and have managed to win just a single game that too a rain shortened one in Canberra.

To begin with, you have to mention the fact that the Sri Lankans haven't brought the right side to Australia. Apart from that, their batting has failed to click and some of the team changes have become mere laughing stock.

Upul Tharanga for example, has an excellent record, but yet, was dropped after just one failure with the bat. After looking at the way Tharanga got out in Sydney, we don't know whether the selectors want to send a clear message to him. But if they wanted to do so, should they have in the first place brought him to Australia? Now that they have brought him, why not send that clear message, whatever it is, after the end of the series?

Then what they did following his axing is even amusing. They opened with a proven middle-order batsman and once Tillekeratne Dilshan partnered Sanath Jayasuriya, the middle-order looked terribly out of depth. Then after three games, Dilshan was brought back to the middle-order, due to his own failure as an opener and as the middle-order was struggling.

Now then, what was Dilruwan Perera doing here? If they had an issue with the opener's slot, their immediate option should have been to go back to Perera. If he's good enough to come to Australia, surely, he's good enough to play too. Sinhala literature gives you a perfect simile to understand some of the decisions taken by the SL selectors. There lived a person many years ago who had an ailing son. The ailment apparently had to do with his foot, but the father went and applied medicine on his son’s spine, only to see that there is no use in that medicine.

Now that Perera too has failed to make a big score, what will the selectors do next? Will they open with poor Shrian Samararatne, the team Manager!

With all respect to Perera, we need to state that in domestic cricket he hasn't done anything significant to deserve selection into the national team. Perera has not scored a hundred in domestic one-dayers and has only three fifties to his name despite playing 70 odd games.

Who instead of Perera is also an interesting question? Jehan Mubarak is only 27 and is an option, but the issue is, he hasn't done enough despite having ample opportunities. But at least the gamble of brining him would have been worth taking as he also provides you a good fielding option as Sri Lanka's fielding has looked awful in this series.

This is where you badly miss players like Marvan Atpattu and Russel Arnold. Atapattu could have been an option for the struggling openers and then the ‘cool’ Arnold over the years had played such a vital role in the middle-order.

The team certainly has brought one fast bowler more and a batsman less on this tour. The squad has just seven specialist batsmen and with Tharanga out of the equation, the problems are aplenty.

Chanaka Welagedara indeed had a promising debut against England at home in December, but in this series he has been just a passenger. We are told that he's struggling with his follow-through and has been even dropped from the forthcoming West Indies series. But didn't the selectors know that he had problems with his follow-through before the Australian tour? He had that problem during the domestic competition too and some way or the other the selectors have failed to detect that there was a problem. This is exactly

what happens when the selectors don't attend to domestic matches and for Sri Lanka's appalling performance in Australia, the selectors are largely responsible.

The Sri Lankans are paying the price for brining the wrong team for the wrong series. Sadly this seems a trend that has been persisted with. This is exactly what the selectors did for the Twenty-20 Championship in South Africa and they had to pay a heavy price; well, the team not the selectors.

It has been also proved yet again how much this team depends on Sanath Jayasuriya. If the left-hander scores, they invariably win and if he doesn't, things fall apart. In Australia this summer, Jayasuriya has managed just 49 runs in five outings, including two ducks. His scores are 7, 27, 12, 0, 0 in this series and unless he gets a start, you sense that Sri Lanka will push the ‘panic button.’

It was all the more evident in Adelaide. Jayasuriya departed early and Kumar Sangakara and Mahela Jayawardene had to really ensure that they stayed on for long because they absolutely knew the problems their middle-order was facing. The failure of the middle-order must also be putting an additional pressure on Jayasuriya.

Chamara Silva is another player who has been extremely disappointing. He certainly looks a pale shadow of the player we saw last year. Silva has accumulated only 44 runs in four innings. More than the runs, he looks terribly out of depth and it'll be a cruel blow for the Sri Lankans if he's to fade away again at the age of 28.

The Sri Lankans have nothing to lose in this series and the scenario they are facing in this tour is something similar to that of 2002-03 tour of Australia. On that occasion, they were repeatedly beaten by England and Australia before losing a warm-up game in humiliating fashion to Australia 'A'. From thereon, they suddenly clicked and the fortunes of the team suddenly changed with Jayasuriya leading the campaign.

A repeat of that against the Indians in Hobart on Tuesday is quite possible and if Australia beat India today, the Sri Lankans are still in with a chance.

But as for selectors, there shouldn't be any excuse. They need to be held accountable for some ordinary decisions they have made.

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