WC selection gets ‘curiouser and curiouser’ | Daily News

WC selection gets ‘curiouser and curiouser’

It seems the more our cricketers are exposed to playing matches the more things become complicated with selections for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

The ongoing Super Four Provincial tournament in Dambulla and Pallekele was expected to provide the national selectors a guideline to select Sri Lanka’s 15 for the World Cup by April 23 which is the final date for submitting the names. But the manner in which the regular ODI players have performed has caused a much bigger headache than when the tournament started.

With six matches out of the possible eight completed the national selectors are still in a quandary as to whom they should select.

Chief selector Ashantha de Mel who is in Dambulla and Pallekele along with his co-selectors Brendon Kuruppu, Hemantha Wickremaratne and Chaminda Mendis said, “We are getting a good look at all the players but the main players’ performances we cannot be happy, the two openers haven’t done well but the younger boys are performing well.”

“With these performances we’ve got some sort of an idea and are close to selecting the 15, we have to take current form as well. But with the World Cup we can’t be taking many young players, that is why we are having a huge issue,” he said.

One of the key concerns is the inability of the players to bat out the full 50 overs and even if they have done so the absence of any big individual contributions has resulted in the totals falling far short of the required 300 plus which is the benchmark in contemporary ODIs.

So far in the six Super Four Provincial matches played todate only one team Galle has made over 300 (345-8) that is because two batsmen Lahiru Thirimanne and Dhananjaya de Silva made eighties apiece and only one batsman Shehan Jayasuriya has made a hundred for Colombo against Kandy.

“The big problem is we can’t bat 50 overs. We are trying to tell the players we have two more games to go at least and make sure they bat the full 50 overs and get a score of over 300,” said De Mel.

“We only got one hundred in this whole tournament. If you make a big hundred or if two batsmen get 80s then the 300 will be there.”

One of the reasons why the top order is not delivering said De Mel was due to better wickets prepared with grass.

“There is a little bit more bounce and movement in the first few overs. We left about five millimetres of grass. The ball is swinging around a little bit in the early overs and the batsmen are playing some loose shots and losing their wickets. They must get used to playing similar to the English conditions,” said De Mel.

Whereas selections are concerned everything is not doom and gloom. One bright spark amongst the muddle is the batting of Sri Lanka Test captain and opener Dimuth Karunaratne.

Following his excellent leadership qualities which he displayed in winning the two-Test series in South Africa, the national selectors picked him to lead the Kandy team and he has not disappointed them.

Karunaratne has responded with scores of 35 (n.o.), 44 and 86 and no doubt has booked himself a place in the 15 as an opener.

“I am very happy with him. We are looking at him more as an opener and we need somebody up in the order who can bat throughout the innings. Dimuth can come in as opener that is one of the issues that we have been having with opening batsmen. The other openers place is open,” said De Mel.

“The two openers whom we thought were good are batting very badly. With Dimuth we need an explosive opener someone like Kusal Perera (if he is fit) because we need to maximise on the first power play,” he said.

Sri Lanka are looking to pick eight batters and seven bowlers and at present they have three slots to fill – an opening bat, a no. 3 bat and one fast bowler.

As far as one can gather among those who are likely to get the nod are Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Mathews, Chandimal and/or Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva among the batters, Akila Dananjaya and Vandersay as spinners, Thisara Perera and Isuru Udana as fast bowling all-rounders, Malinga, Lakmal and either Chameera, Pradeep or Lahiru Kumara as fast bowlers.

Dickwella we are made to understand is batting so badly that his place as wicket-keeper/batsman hangs in the balance. If he fails to make the side Sri Lanka has the option of Kusal Perera as first choice wicket-keeper, Chandimal or Mendis.

The selectors are keeping their fingers crossed that the final two matches of the Super Four Provincial tournament will provide them with the answers to fill the empty spaces that exist at the moment.

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