Picking a squad isn’t really an exact science. That is why fans, pundits and eventually the selectors rarely have the same set of players when asked to pick one.
Do you simply pick the best players on current form? Do you give someone another chance? Do you go with the tried and trusted or try to introduce some new blood?
These are questions that every selection panel struggles with and one that the Sri Lankan’s rarely, if ever, get right. Sri Lanka aren’t hip to picking squads or teams that are suited for the three individual formats. It’s just something the selectors have never been good at. Then they make decisions which are quite silly that you start to wonder if it’s some sort of cruel prank they are pulling on you. An example would be that of how Suraj Randiv is now considered a test match specialist. They are equally guilty of sheer bloody mindedness in picking players who’ve failed over and over again in the hope they do well to prove the doubters of their decision making process wrong. Chamara Kapugedera is one such example.
That Kapugedara is talented is almost universally accepted by the current Captain, coaches, past players. A lot of people still remember him hitting Brett Lee for few sixer’s in Australia. And for a long time he was picked based on that innings and the promise that innings showed. Of late he’s been picked when someone has been injured with expectations that he has to do well in these drop in innings. Kapugedara’s confidence has been systematically stripped away with almost surgical precision by the media and fans. It’s almost palpable when he bats for Sri Lanka. It’s like he knows he’s going to get out so why bother trying anyway.
Remarkably the selectors have appeared to have shed all these past indiscretions and picked possibly one of the best squads Sri Lanka has ever put out in any form of the game. There is depth and an excellent mix of experience and youth. And at a time when we ere contemplating on heading to PartyCasino to put some coin on everyone’s favorite MP and dance star Jayasuriya making the cut.
Kapugedara has been left out for a start. Bowlers like Eranga and SLPL star Dhananjaya have been gambled on. Ajantha Mendis, who in our view still remains a destructive force in this format of the game, is back. Munaweera adds a much needed aggressive streak to the top order.
There are no freeloaders. Everyone has clear and defined roles. But that doesn’t take away from the flexibility of the options available to Jayawardene. 2020 cricket is so fast and furious that it’s a case of adapt or die. Set batting line ups, run accumulators and predictable bowlers are not the order of the day.
Munaweera can open, bat at 3 or in the middle order. The same is true for Jayawardene. Even Thisara Perera could come up the order if needed on his current form. Jeewan Mendis props up a strong and clever attacking lower middle order. The pace attack is structured well with Malinga offering the X factor, although it’s more like a x factor these days, Kulesekara control and Eranga swing at good pace.
Sri Lanka always likes a bit of mystery with their tweakers and this side has a enough to satisfy J.J Abrams. Excessive variety, which can be detrimental without having a stock ball to fall back on in the longer formats, is an advantage in 2020 cricket. A fact that Jayawardene obviously supports in his championing of Akila Dananjaya for his SLPL side. But with Mendis also in the squad, it remains to be seen if he gets a game. But the fact that he is available for Jayawardene is the whole point of the exercise.
In recent times, Sri Lankan sides have been handicapped by the selections they have made. This time around they have given themselves the best chance by putting together 15 players who are suited to the format and play pivotal roles for the side. They’ve lowered the odds and have for once, stopped us unnecessarily parting with our hard earned small sums of money