The humming winds for Sri Lankan cricket cannot be any more timely than more exposure mounting international cricket exchanges in the accelerated blooding pathway the cricket establishment – Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) envisages. In that perspective the February-March home tour of Sri Lanka A playing hosts to its England counterparts would be a much expectant revealing window for the national selectors headed by Sanath Jayasuriya. More so as the selectors’ fine combing drive assumes all priority in the hunt for the ideal mix as Chairman of Selectors, Jayasuriya and his co selectors seek to fix the mainstream national composition to top grating proportions.
The cricket tour exchanges in the recent past from New Zealand to England, Australia, Zimbabwe and South Africa while shedding some light on young latent talent has yet not sufficiently settled the ideal mix crucially at Test and ODI level. In the jinx of not matching England, Australia and South Africa except the Test series triumph over the Aussies and in the T20s over South Africa, the February-March exposure for the Sri Lanka A XI versus the England Lions in two Test matches and five ODIs would be quite a feeder for the Sri Lankan selection think tank; particularly with several mainstream national players who are on the border line of finding permanency.
The 15-member squad with national player Dhananjaya de Silva captaining and Sandun Weerakkody, who struck a fluent ODI half century versus South Africa as vice captain sees quite an impactful composition. While a conspicuous member is regular Sri Lanka Test opener Dimuth Karunaratne, who has therein been put on trial following a recent bad patch, there are few players who have played at the highest level in ODIs like spinner Jeffrey Vandersay, and Dilruwan Perera. Most significant is the naming of the cream of players who have excelled in the domestic premier league cricket such as batsmen Ron Chandraguptha of Colombo Cricket Club (CCC) who has been in cracking form heading the top 10, and Roshane de Silva of Ragama CC. Both top the 60 average mark. Roshane, who was in the squad versus Australia, but rather unfortunate not to get a call up, is a sedate batsman in the left hand mould and is in contention to go out there an impress. I do recall an interview with the youngster who said, “I just want to go out there and perform.” He certainly deserves the break at A level to impress the selectors. Adding to the selection interest is the inclusion of Sebastianite batsman, the U-19 batting hero Asitha Fernando in a historic triumph in England last year.
The youngster, who did make a failed ODI debut against Australia apparently being thrown to the wolves to open the innings in a game, is in line to show his colours at this level. Among the bowlers off spinner Malinda Pushpakumara, a former Ananda College product who has been nudging the selectors for quite a long time is also in the running. A fair batsman as well, Pushpakumara heads the premier league bowling with 67 wickets, with Amila Aponso, another off spinner of SSC there too being 9th among the top 10 club bowlers. Another of that genre in contention is Jeffrey Vandersay, who has played in ODIs for his country, but pressing for permanency. The left arm bowler was a mite unlucky to lose his way following a sidelining fracture to his bowling finger that saw young Lakshan Sandakan grab the opportunity to make the tour to South Africa.
Dhananjaya de Silva (Capt)
Sandun Weerakkody (V. Capt)
Roshane de Silva
Jerrey Woutersz – Team Manager
Avishka Gunawardene – Head Coach
Nuwan Zoysa – Fast Bowling Coach (1st Test only)
Chaminda Vaas – Fast Bowling Coach (Last 3 ODIs)
Piyal Wijetunga – Spin Bowling Coach
Nuwan Seneviratne – Fielding Coach
Ranjith Nanayakkarawasam – Physiotherapist
Rohan Wijeweera – Masseur
Dilshan Fonseka – Trainer
G.G.T. Niroshan – Analyst
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-