First T20 match against South Africa showed again, that there are obvious faults in team selection, and batting line up as well.
During his first interview in early 2013, after appointed as chief selector of the national team, former legendary opener Sanath Jayasuriya promised to fans, that his Selection Panel is going to focus on different team for different formats. He also said that selectors would focus to look for players who can clear the park easily for T20s.
Seven months later, nothing has changed! At the time of his appointment, Sanath had talked about everything, but sadly he did nothing. During this period, Sri Lanka managed to win just one series- against South Africa recently. They failed miserably in Champions trophy and in West triangular series. They couldn’t win a one day series against minnow Bangladesh, in their home soil!
As a result, questions galore, still. Where are the changes? Where are the three different teams, Sanath was talking about? And, where are those big hitters, Sanath was mentioning about?
Take a example of the first T20 against Proteas. Sri Lanka opted for seven batsmen, including two all rounder’s. Yet, they failed to achieve a moderate total of 116. Sanath was talking about introducing big hitters in T20s, but in this match Thiasara Perera and Angelo Mathews, were only two players available, who can hit a six at any situation. Captain Dinesh Chandimal has played 16 T20s till date, but he only managed to hit just 2 sixes in his twenty-20 career, while other two- Lahiru Thirimane and Jeevan Mendis has smashed just 1 and 5 sixes in their twenty-20 career so far, after playing 14 and 16 matches respectively. And, you can’t say either that- Kumar Sanagakkara and TM Dilshan are big six hitters.
Though, Sanga and Dilshan are still good enough for T20s, even after their inability to hit big sixes at demand, but you can’t say same about Thirimane, Chandimal and Jeevan Mendis. Thirimane is not a T20 player. Unarguably, he has the temperament for ODIs and Test cricket, and in all probability, he will become another run machine for Sri Lanka in these two formats, but surely, T20 is not his kind of game. Chandimal has the same problem, when it comes to T20 cricket.
equation is quite simple- Chandimal and Thirimane can’t play together in a T20 match. but, selectors are blindly chossing both of them for the shortest format. danger is that, if they will keep failing in T20, it will automatically destroy their confidence, for other two formats as well. and it will surely be a crisis for Sri Lanka, as they have identified them as successor of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
As for as Mendis is concerned, no one in the little Island knows why he is in the team. Only Sanath and co. can justify, what is Jeevan Mendis doing in the team? Batting? Bowling? Fielding? Seems like, it is just fielding. In this regard, it’s surely a Waste of a spot, in a national team. If he must play, he should get at least 1-2 over’s to bowl. After all, he is supposed to be an all rounder! But, neither he bats well, nor bowls well. It should be a automatic choice to give his place to young Angelo Perera. in worst scenario, He will be failed badly, but at least he will gain the much needed experience, as he is future of Sri Lanka cricket. But they are just wasting one precious spot in playing XI, by including ‘fielding specialist’ Mendis.
And, there are not just bad selection of players for different formats, but the batting lineup is also a big concern. Thirimane, a test match type of player, comes in when the asking rate goes sky rocketing. The guy, if he is in the team at all, should come one down to hold one end. On the other hand, Thisara, a genuine six hitter, gets to face about 5 balls and he is expected to hit about 2 of those for sixes. Yesterday’s match was another classic example of the fact that most Sri Lankan captains don’t know, how and when to use Perera. Had they sent him before Lahiru Thirimane, result of the match would have been different. Logic is quite simple- Thisara Perera should be promoted carefully according to the situation of the match. He’s a hitter, but cannot expect him to do it from the very first ball he faces. there is no logic in having him bat at no. 8 position in a T20 game. instead, he must be used in middle order, where he can construct his innings, drop the asking rate, as well as could ease the presure on other batsmen.
Without a doubt, all these are serious concern. Sri Lanka should identify, who is behind all these messed up? Captain? Coach? Team management? Or selectors? Otherwise, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.