Selections in a state of flux – does not augur well for World Cup | Daily News


Selections in a state of flux – does not augur well for World Cup

Not only is the administration of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) in total disarray but the disease has even spread to cricket selections where it has come to a stage where from the body language of the players it can be easily said that they have absolutely no faith in the system. It simply boils down to poor selection. Every player is playing to safeguard his place and as a result not playing as a team. It is very clear to see for any ordinary layman.

The crux of the problem lies with the head coach being inducted into the selection committee which is against the law of the country. The Sports Law clearly says that the selection committee across all sports should be an independent body where you only consult the coach and the captain and ask them to leave the room and then you pick the team. But here when that authority is given to the coach it is a matter of the dog doing the ass’s work.

What the authorities who run the game don’t understand is that today the game has evolved to a level where each staff member and each official has clearly defined roles to play. The coach’s job is to look after the technical side of the game, the batting coach should be getting our batsmen to score runs instead of talking about selections and the bowling coach, the fielding coach so on and so forth.

Chandika Hathurusingha and Thilan Samaraweera maybe good coaches but they are in a right royal pickle now. By taking the responsibility of selection on their heads they have messed it up totally. Samaraweera who is also the acting head coach due to the suspension on Hathurusingha said at the end of the third ODI: “We have about 20 games for the World Cup. We have no idea who is going to bat where. We don’t know who are going to be our top three batsmen.” That statement alone sums up how clueless they are.

We seem to have all these fancy theories in the country that if you were a talented player you are an equally talented administrator. First, you need to identify the players, then identify in which position in the batting order they are best suited for but these people haven’t got the foggiest idea of how to get about this.

Take the third ODI at Pallekele. We win the toss and hand over that advantage to the opposition. South Africa got 363/7 and when we lost three wickets for 63 in the ninth over, Thisara Perera is sent up before Angelo Mathews. Now who is taking all these decisions? When you are losing wickets you don’t send a pinch hitter, but you try to consolidate.

In spite of losing early wickets we got up to 285. All we needed was two of our top order batsmen to score runs and we would have even chased the target down. You take Rabada out of this South African bowling the rest are all pedestrian bowlers, whom our batsmen could have taken to the cleaners. Dhananjaya de Silva who came to bat at no. 7 showed how easy it is to score runs off them.

What we are failing to identify is that South Africa has come here without their main strike bowler in leg-spinner Imran Thahir. Just imagine if he was in the line-up we would have not got close to the totals we have made. The third ODI was a classic example of our support staff not being competent at this level. The sole purpose of a support staff is to support the team. Is that happening?

Where they have got themselves in a pickle is having Hathurusingha in the selection committee where he is hijacking the selections. What will happen is he will get into confrontation with the players and the moment that happens the plot is lost. As humans we are emotional. The moment the player is left out, the natural human reaction is to take offence. Once you take offence on the coach in one instance, it clouds the whole picture and the coach will never be the same thereafter.

Therefore the support staff should be protected from interfering with selections because as support staff their job is to support the team, selections should be done by an independent committee and all the anger and frustrations of the players can be directed at them instead of creating tension within the team environment where unlike the selectors the support staff are together.

You cannot have a coach involved in selection because it is against the law of the land. We are flouting the law of the land despite having a President’s Counsel sitting as Sports Minister.

There is no desire to bring in an interim committee and clean the place up because they are playing politics. It seems that Sports Minister Faiszer Musthapha is there with a sole mandate to protect Thilanga Sumathipala. So until this government changes nothing is going to happen - this caravan will go on until the World Cup.

How can you go to the World Cup with players like Upul Tharanga and Prabath Jayasuriya? Anyone can see how ridiculous it is from outside. Who are picking these guys? One gets the impression that Sumathipala is manipulating everything from behind the scene. All the selections as it appears he is dictating. In this kind of scenario there will never be integrity in the selections. The moment you degrade the integrity of selections everything is lost. As you see the disaster is unfolding before our very eyes.

Unless there is integrity in the selections you will never get the best out of players, they will always be doubtful about the system and they will always play to safeguard their positions. And when the players start doing that the team will never prosper.

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