All three decision makers namely Sangakkara, coach Baylis and chairman selectors are very excited with the youngsters who will be on tour to Bangladesh . Answering media quires about the young hopefuls, Coach Trevor Baylis clearly stated that Suranga Lakmal, Chanaka Welegedera and Suraj Randiv were the most impressive, against the Indians in the recently concluded series. Sangakakra added that players in the caliber of Thisira Perera and young Lahiru Thirimane have a great opportunity to cement their place at national level.
Sangakkara also praised Thisira Perera for his positive attitude and his enthusiasm to do well at this level. The head table consisting of head coach, captain and selectors were very informative and did well by answering all media queries to the best of their ability.
The media wanted a definition on some of the senior players left out for the Bangladesh tour. Chairman selectors Asantha De Mel stated that Mahela Jayawardena, Muttiah Muralitharan and Angelo Mathews were nursing injuries while Sanath Jayasuriya will be given more opportunities, however will have to play as a bowling all rounder. He also added that Jayasuriyas’ tour of duty will be to bat at any position depending on the match circumstances.
The media was critical of Samaraweeras’ inclusion in the squad. Sangakkara justified his selection by stating that Thilan has a new approach to his batting and further the unavailability of premier batsman Mahela Jayawardena was also taken into consideration when selecting Samaraweera for this tour.
Sri Lanka who were runners up in World Cup 2007, have been down hill in the shorter version of the game. De Mel then justified the down trend to certain seniors calling it a day in the international arena, further the out of form aspect in some, and also certain pitches or venues that give an added advantage to winning the toss and wrapped up his views by stating, that too much of cricket is being played in this era.
All three decision makers and the rest of the selectors were in unison in strengthening the bench and took the India as an example. Sangakkara also stated that the current out look is healthy because no player can rest on his past laurels, both seniors and the youngsters will have to perform to cement their respective places. He also made a pertinent point when he told the media that we were dependent only on a few players like Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vass and Muralitharan to win games for Sri Lanka, the time is ripe now for every single player to put his hand up and be counted.
Commenting in the drop of the fielding standards its one area along with our bowling that needs vast improvement. The skipper spoke of the high standards set by players in the caliber of Mahanama, Jayasuriya, Upul Chandana and T.M. Dilshan. Sangakkara also in no uncertain terms stated a specialist fielding coach sourced from overseas on an intermediate basis will help the cause.
Speaking to the media on the recently concluded series he showered praises on Dilshan for his contribution on the field, off the field and also at team meetings. Captain and the coach spoke very highly of 21 year old Angelo Mathews who has matured into a great all rounder.
De Mel answering to a query by the media on Jayawardenas’ poor form stated that even though he is shy of runs they take into consideration the circumstances of his failure and quickly stated that Mahela has an excellent strike rate. Chairman selectors also stated he was very optimistic that Jayawardena will come good soon; hence from his view point, the former skipper occupies the top spot in the batting arena.
Coach Trevor Baylis stated beating India in their back yard is a herculean task very similar to getting the better of the Aussies in their own soil. Trevor also stated that assistant coach Stuart Law will bring in all his experience hence, this augurs well for the coaching department to help the players to perform.
Sri Lanka will leave for Bangladesh on the 1st of January for a tri series tournament involving India and host Bangladesh. The youngsters are given a golden opportunity, it’s now up to them to cement their respective places and be counted, since many are knocking on the door. The youngsters must take into account that Jayasuriya can fit in even at the age of 40. The south paw is still in the reckoning from Sangakkaras’ and De Mels’ view point hence performance and knowing the art of winning a game should be priority number one.