Kapila speaks out | Daily News

Kapila speaks out

Former chairman of cricket selectors Kapila Wijegunawardene spoke to the Daily News and gave his version of the events that led to the removal of his selection committee which also included Brendon Kuruppu, Amal Silva and Hemantha Wickremaratne.

Their bone of contention was they were unceremoniously removed."We feel humiliated about the fact that without adducing any tangible reasons the media was informed that we have been sacked," said Wijegunawardene.

He further stated he was informed by a telephone call at 11 pm on Monday by an official who identified himself as the director-general of sports and told that they ceased to serve as national selectors with immediate effect.

The caller stated that these were orders from the Minister of Sports and no reasons were adduced for such removal. Wijegunawardene further added that none of them have until now received any intimation whatsoever in writing from the Minister confirming the telephone conversation.

Wijegunawardene in addition stated: "It was very clear from the time we picked the squad they wanted certain players included and the players they had in mind were not in the 15 that we had selected.

If you look at the changes that have been done it's only two. We had to pick a team from merit.

In my opinion we were given a deadline for February 15 to pick the team for the Asia Cup as well as the World T20.

When we picked the team on February 14 it got delayed by four days to be released to the media. We had three rounds of discussion and there were various arguments with SLC hierarchy and we counted every one of them.

"What they wanted didn't transpire and the team left for the Asia Cup. It was obvious inspite of all the agreements that we had in sending Lasith Malinga to accompany the squad that they had a different agenda in their minds in changing the captain and obviously getting the players they wanted in."

Direct interference from Sports Minister

"First, he inquired from me about 2-3 players and then when Malinga got injured he told me to bring him back.

I explained and told him that we cannot and why we have sent him and why he should stay there.

Yesterday (Monday) we were all surprised when Malinga opted to step down from captaincy and sent a letter to that effect. When we inquired from Malinga what prompted him to do step down, in the presence of the assistance secretary and the four selectors he said that when he was in Dhaka, the Sports Minister, SLC president and Aravinda de Silva in his presence were discussing T20 World Cup team with a senior player for which discussion he was not invited.

He mentioned that he was very upset by this episode and that is what made him send in letter to step down from captaincy. This is blatant interference by the authorities.

Not following SLC guidelines

"The guidelines given to us by SLC was that Mathews should captain in the absence of Malinga. We had a discussion with coach Graham Ford and he told us very clearly that one of the biggest issues he had was there being three captains in four games.

And it clearly impeded the performance of the team.

Now we are facing a situation where Malinga is injured and there is no firm guarantee that he is going to get fit. When Malinga went to Dhaka the SLC president along with the coach and the selectors agreed that in the event that he is unable to play a replacement would be sent. When the request for a replacement came from Dhaka the president objected on the grounds that Malinga should return for the replacement to be sent. Then Graham at that time indicated that he was one bowler short in the squad with Malinga's injury. We didn't want the same scenario with the current squad and it was for this reason that we replaced Malinga with another player so that the squad will be 15 fit players. We take decisions for the team's requirements and in the best interest of the country. We don't base our decisions on individuals.

"In his letter Malinga has clearly indicated that he cannot travel to India till March 15, then again we would have the same situation of one bowler short. The coach was also very clear between the lines that some of the captaincy decisions taken also had an impact on our performances. The fact that Angelo has been carrying a calf injury for a long while and that he has bowled only five overs in the T20 format during the last 12 months and he didn't play in the last game. As there was an injury cloud over Mathews and to avoid these constant changes in the captaincy we opted that for Chandimal who in our view was undisputedly the best choice under these circumstances. He was the fittest out of the lot and also a past T20 captain. We also took into consideration Ford's opinion on this matter.

"We wrote to the Sports Minister explaining the rational in keeping Malinga back and the poor performance of the team was not due to wrong composition of players but the fact that the teams that was being picked was imbalanced and the batting orders were incorrect and for that we cannot take responsibility. We also told the SLC president and secretary the only way we can consider changing the team is if we get a written directive from the Sports Minister because this is the team that has been approved by him and we cannot over ride such decisions. However this was not forthcoming and we stuck to the team we originally selected apart from changing the captain and replacing Malinga (due to injury concerns) with paceman Kasun Rajith.

"We have done no wrong and this is amply demonstrated by the fact that only two changes had been made by the new set of selectors apart from the change in captaincy." 

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