World Cup selection muddle | Daily News

World Cup selection muddle

While other teams are getting down to finalizing their last one or two spots in their World Cup 15s, Sri Lanka are nowhere close to achieving that. First of all they have yet to finalise their captain and much reliance is being placed on the performances of the 60 players who will represent four teams in the Super Provincial 50-over tournament which is being used as a guideline to select Sri Lanka’s final 15 for the World Cup.

The captain will also be selected at the end of the tournament and three of the four team captains in contention to lead the country to the World Cup are Angelo Mathews (Dambulla), Dimuth Karunaratne (Kandy) and Lasith Malinga (Galle). The fourth team Colombo is captained by Dinesh Chandimal.

At one time Malinga looked like the best bet to lead the team to the World Cup as he was known to have one of the best cricket brains. But last month under his captaincy Sri Lanka lost eight limited-over matches on the trot (5 ODIs and 3 T20Is) to South Africa which has put question marks on his leadership on how well he is able to rally his players around him.

Mathews looked a good bet but then again whether he is able to go through an entire tournament without breaking down with an injury is questionable. In recent times Mathews has had a running battle with a string of hamstring injuries that has prevented him from giving his best to the team and also upset the team balance with the frequency with which he gets injured.

At the launch of the Super Provincial tournament on Monday, Mathews assured everyone that he was 100 percent fit and ready to play.

“I had a good rehabilitation period after the injury and now everything is okay and I am ready to play,” said Mathews who is expected to play as a batsman only.

Most of Mathews’ problems have come when he starts to bowl his medium-paced deliveries. The workload on the lower part of his body is too much and he eventually ends up with an injury to his calf muscle or hamstring.

Karunaratne usually a Test player became a prime candidate for the World Cup captaincy on the strength of leading his country to a stunning 2-0 sweep of the series in South Africa in the Test series, the first time an Asian nation has done so in rainbow land.

Karunaratne is not a regular ODI player, the last one-day game he played for his country was four years ago in the last World Cup against England and overall in an eight-year international cricket career he has appeared in only 17 ODIs.

However Sri Lanka’s consistent failures in their top order batting has pushed Karunaratne an accumulator of runs in Test cricket into the forefront of closing up one end as an opening bat or at number three. If he can win a place on his batting the chances of him captaining the side will be strong.

However last Sunday, Karunaratne almost threw his World Cup chances out of the window by being arrested on a drink-driving charge where the car he was driving met with an accident knocking over a three-wheeler. Although the incident was amicably settled in court Karunaratne faces an inquiry by Sri Lanka Cricket with whom he is contracted and may face punishments.

Well that is the sad state of affairs the country’s cricket is going through. There are various opinions expressed on the downfall of our cricket, one being the diluting of the first-class domestic tournament by increasing the number of participating clubs for the sake of obtaining votes for which those who held top positions in Sri Lanka Cricket are answerable.

The other is the lack of player commitment. Unlike in the past where players were proud to earn a national cap playing for their country, today’s cricketers it seems are more interested in the amount of cash that comes into their hands which has led to a state of indiscipline outside the boundary line. The absence of a strong bench strength has also made the players sit in their comfort zones knowing pretty well that their places are assured whether they contribute or not.

These are some of the prime problems Sri Lanka Cricket needs to address urgently if the fortunes of the national team is to undergo a complete turnaround especially in the one-day format where alarmingly the team has been struggling to get back on track for the past three years.


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