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A World Cup thrown away by selection blunders

Selection committees that ignored basic cricketing commonsense cost Sri Lanka an opportunity to live up to their reputation of consistently exceeding expectations at major ICC events.   
 
Sri Lanka’s path to success was dent a massive blow when some of the most fundamental principles of selecting a cricket team; fitness, vision for the future, consistency, strategy and planning were all ignored by selection committees headed by Kapila Wijegunewardena and Aravinda De Silva.
 
The first major blunder was made when Kapila’s team selected the same squad for the Asia cup and the World Cup when the latter could have been selected well after the Asia Cup. Failure to be aware of tournament regulations is irresponsible and unacceptable! By selecting a squad for the World Cup on spin friendly Indian wickets when naming the squad for the Asia cup on seamer friendly wickets, the selectors packed winter clothes on a summer trip!! The Asia cup squad was a fast bowler short and carried excess spinners. Danushka Gunethilake, who had shown enough promise in New Zealand to fill in the void of KJ Perera was dropped after just two failures in during the Indian series. Kasun Rajitha, who’s man of the match debut performance brought the team’s only win against a major team in 2016, was dropped after just one more outing!
 
Selectors not only gambled in selecting an unfit Malinga for both events, but took the huge risk of naming him captain! Yes, a half-fit Malinga is Sri Lanka’s best T20 bowler and perhaps one of the best in the world! Yet, by his own admission, a chronically injury prone Malinga only started bowling in practice the day before his first match in almost four months! By appointing Malinga as captain when his fitness history suggested that at best he’d play a limited number of matches, selectors opened a can of worms that would not only disrupt the team balance, chemistry, unity, but also create unnecessary rift and tension among the senior players! The end result was there for all to see. Lack of leadership, accountability, responsibility and not having the ideal squad meant demoralizing losses ahead of the World Cup. 
 
The aftermath of these selection blunders resulted in unwanted interference from outside parties and administrators, creating more chaos. Phase two of the doomed campaign began with a new selection panel being appointed just hours before the team was to leave to India. However, the damage was already done! Having 15 players with one foot on the plane to India, it was too late to make drastic changes. As a result, Sachithra who was beginning to suffer from bedsores due to extended time on the bench, and Shehan who’s recent form wouldn’t get him on UAE’s 15, were off to the World Cup. Perhaps the worst of all decisions was the inclusion of Malinga who ‘spilled the beans on selectors’ even before he got to India saying that he was not fit nor wanted to be part of the squad. Malinga’s back-up also defies logic. Lakmal has never been seen as a T20 specialist and his inclusion over Rajitha meant a third cheerleader among the 15 man squad. Thirimanne was selected based on ‘potential' seen in him by key selectors and not based on recent form or confidence in the format.
 
Sri Lanka’s team selections at the World Cup suggested that the captain and management had little faith in the squad. With Kulesekara’s poor form, Sri Lanka were forced to go in to a must win match against England with just three bowlers because Senanayake had forgotten how to bowl with his new action and Lakmal was never meant to be there. This World Cup was doomed months before it started!  
 

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