In this strange world, some are saying Kusal Perera didn't get a fair chance to build his confidence without pressure, despite getting the historical lion-share of incessant chances in memory.
It is worthwhile noting the fact that Kusal was given a free lease broader than sky, to fly over the moon, as any of his competitors were not even considered for squads (in all series he played to date in England, BD, in Sharjah & in SL, Vs Eng etc). But on the other hand, in the solitary occasion (since 2013) that UT was considered as the first choice opener (on paper), at the beginning of Indian series, strangely KJP was also somehow included in the squad as the 3rd Opener. What happened next is history now.
In the backdrop of above scenario, thought of sequencing UT’s blocked voyages to the scandalous bridge between “Opportunity” & “Confidence” situated in SL:
2009: 13 in – 523 runs – 118 HS – 40.23 Av – 82.36 SR – 1 X 100 – 4 X 50
He was dropped once for 6 months – due to 2-Odis-long lean-period in January.
2010: 22 in – 707 runs -118* HS – 37.21 Av – 73.79 SR – 1 x100* – 5 x 50
He was dropped again for 5 months – due to another 2-Odis-long lean-period in January, despite scoring an unbeaten century during the same month.
2011: 21 in – 826 runs – 133 HS – 45.88 Av – 75.71 SR – 4 x 100 – 2 x 50
Unfortunately, somehow UT got trapped in a bizarre incident involving some prescribed medication given to him for Asthma. Apparently, he kept his mouth shut & was banned for 3 months by ICC (without receiving any defending support from authorities). Despite all this stumbling blocks, Tharanga had scored 4 big Tons & two Fifty-plus scores for SL during the year. http://www.sundaytimes.lk/111218/Sports/spt13.html
2012: 26 in – 752 runs – 71 HS – 30.08 Av – 75.73 SR – 8 x 50
Tharanga had gathered 2808 runs @ Av 38.35 – S/R 76.89 with 6 X 100+ & 19 X 50+ scores during the most recent 4-year period up to his imposed isolation in 2013 (big scores were scored all against Aus/Eng/NZ/Ind/SA/Pak/WI in varying condition around the world).
2013: in January, again he had a 3 Odis long Lean period & dropped again for 6 months, inserting Kusal to fail in England Averaging 3.5 in ICC-CT. Then Upul was given 7 Odis in June/July (due to Dilshan’s injury), where UT scored – 249 runs at 41.5 Average with an unbeaten Century. Yet, he was dropped again for straight 18 months preferring failing Kusal, up to August 2014.
No need to say how hard it is to settle & score big, for any player, when given just 5 Odis randomly scattered over 18 months (since July 2013 to Nov 2014). For example UT was given just one Odi in India, despite being the highest scorer in warm-up match, scoring 76 runs with a SR 101.
He was also not given a single Odi during the recent 7-match series Vs Eng. Yet, this grossly undermined opener still holds SL's Ever Best bating record Vs Eng – 11 odis- Av 57.80 / SR 78.00/ 3×100 – 2×50 . Strangely, he was not given a single odi Vs Eng, from a total of 20 odis SL played since 2011 WC, where UT made his 3rd 100*+ Vs England.
Another example is the strange omission from Test squad for NZ series. No country would drop a player who was the match-wining highest scorer (94 & 45 runs) in the previous series decider, last Test Vs PAK. Tharanga had gathered 306 runs @ Av 38.25 with 2 x Fifty-plus scores Vs SA & PAK, in his brief stint of 4 Tests given in August, after 6 years.
I leave it for you to select the winner for the ‘wonderful’ award of “The player who was blocked most at the bridge between <opportunities> and <confidence> in SL Cricket”.