All is not lost despite World Cup debacle, says chief selector | Daily News
‘Maggie noodles kind of approach will not develop players’

All is not lost despite World Cup debacle, says chief selector

Sri Lanka’s chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel.
Sri Lanka’s chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel.

LEEDS, Thursday: Sri Lanka’s poor performance at the 2019 World Cup where they failed to qualify for a place in the semi-finals does not mean that all is lost, according to chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel who is with the squad in the role of manager cum selector on tour.

“No doubt our performance was below par and not upto the mark. We played eight games, two were washed out; we won three and lost three. That’s not good enough, if you want to come up the ladder you’ve got to perform better than that,” De Mel told the ‘Daily News’ summing up the team’s performance with one game against India to be played here on Saturday.

Talking of the positives the team achieved in the World Cup De Mel said, “In the batting little by little we are getting some sort of a base that is something good. Lasith (Malinga) has been bowling really well and Dhananjaya de Silva has done well. Isuru Udana and Nuwan (Pradeep) also, until he went down with chicken pox. The team has been getting into some sort of a form and should be good enough for the next series against Bangladesh at home. This could be the starting point.

“There is a base to start with. It is there now. I’ve looked at the players, from the ‘A’ team and Emerging and Under 19 there is a base. That has to be developed and there has to be patience. If you try to do a Maggie noodles kind of thing it won’t work. You can’t put it in and take it out, it won’t work. These players have to be given opportunities and if you want them to improve they must have at least 40-60 games under their belts. Our players don’t have that.

“Avishka (Fernando) has only 9 ODI appearances, Kasun Rajitha 7 and Isuru Udana 12 although he has been in the system for so long. The games they have played is very little. Unless you play and learn that is the way to go forward. You cannot sit in the dressing room and learn how to play. These players must be given the freedom and confidence to play. We must play the brand of Sri Lanka cricket that we are used to - the positive way, not blocking and waiting. Their mindset must be positive, believe that you are good enough and play your normal game. Most of it at the moment is a lot on the mindset,” De Mel explained.

On the selections of leg-spinners Jeevan Mendis and Jeffrey Vandersay, De Mel said that their contributions were generally disappointing.

“In Vandersay’s case the problem is he looks good in Sri Lanka and bowls pretty well in the provincial matches and even in the nets, but if you put him in a match, under pressure he is bowling short balls and full tosses. Jeevan is an experienced campaigner but he hasn’t lived upto his potential,” said De Mel.

“It is not easy business to spin on these surfaces with small boundaries and all that, but in general I am disappointed with Jeevan and Vandersay. There aren’t very many spinners around also. Who are the spinners we have? Dhananjaya (de Silva) has bowled well. His economy rate is 4.7 and his strike rate around 22. We have to find another one or two spinners. Amila Aponso, Lasith Ambuldeniya who broke his finger, Akila (Dananjaya) and (Lakshan) Sandkan are the ones we can look at,” he said.

“Milinda Siriwardana we selected on the basis as a batsman at no. 6 but he got only one game so it is difficult to judge whether he is good or bad.”


When the Sri Lanka middle order was not firing and failing constantly questions were raised by critics on the exclusions of Niroshan Dickwella and Dinesh Chandimal from the World Cup squad.

“People can say anything they want but where are we going to bat Chandimal? Also Chandimal is not a good fielder. We already have Malinga and Mathews who don’t move that fast. How many passengers are we going to carry on the field,” questioned De Mel.

“Angelo his commitment is there. He is working hard and making an effort on the field. When the team needed him he came and bowled and won the match for us. Lasith of course he is very slow on the field but the presence of him in the side and his bowling has a huge effect. We can carry one player but not 3-4 players.

“Chandimal even now if you want to select him for the Bangladesh series I don’t know how you are going to fit him in. Thirimanne should bat at 6 and he is the one who won the match for us against West Indies. He got 45 in 30 balls and if he didn’t score those runs we wouldn’t have got to 338-6.

“Dickwella even if he comes in now, he can bat only at six. What are the starts he has given in the last 10 games he has played? It is easy to say. But at the end of the day we are getting good starts now. Leaving out Dickwella has been justified by the starts we have got from Karunaratne and Kusal Perera. Dickwella is a good player but he has to realise how many innings he has played and how many times has he scored? He has to come good at least once in three innings and score big. We have kept him out to let him score some runs and come back,” De Mel continued.

“Dimuth has not played ODIs much but going forward once we develop him, he will be a player who will score big runs. I don’t think we should be looking too far now that we have got a base. We have to build about 20 players we can use. We have to find some spinners and some fast bowlers. That’s the key and we need to have guys who can field properly. We can’t have passengers on the field. Today the one-day game is where everyone has to field well. That’s what Trevor Bayliss has done with England. They were nowhere in ODIs but he has built the confidence into the players,” he said.

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