Sri Lanka cricket and its future seem to be the topic most people are very keen to discuss. The National team is obviously the main point of discussion and we dwelled on the U.19 cricketers the past week.
Today our focus will be on the Sri Lanka development squad and its tour of New Zealand commencing on the 10th November for a period of two weeks. Once again this team too comprises of highly talented and very capable young players who are strongly knocking at the National door. Some of the names in the squad are already quite well known in the local scene and some of them are emerging fast.
For example the name of Lahiru Thirimanne hailing from Prince of Wales College Moratuwa is thought to be the best young batsman in the country by none other than Skipper Kumara Sangakkara himself. Thirimanne in the brief opportunities he has had, has made a huge impression and his century against Pakistan in the opening three day game of the tour, had knowledgeable commentators of the caliber of Waqar Younis and Ramiz Raja, former greats from Pakistan, speaking very highly of him!
|Dinesh Chandimal is one of the best things that has
happened to Sri Lanka
In the A team series that followed against Pakistan A, Thirimanne was in the forefront again with runs. Therefore it came as a huge surprise when young Thirimanne is only a standby for the Indian tour and not in the squad itself. As in the current form he is bound to do well if the opportunity is given.
Another young player who is bound to progress upwards is the captain of the Development squad and top order batsman Ashan Priyanjana. An Old Nalandian, Priyanjana was the winner of the best batsman's award for the Premier U 23 tournament of 2008/09. Besides winning the award Priyanjana was a heavy scorer in the Premier League tournament of the last year and has been amongst the runs this year too. To me Priyanjana and Thirimanne are two players quite capable of assuming the role of Sangakkara and Jayawardane in the National team provided the development and the consistency levels are maintained.
As for Dilshan Munaweera the young opener he has taken the local Premier scene by storm. Batting at the top of the order for Bloomfield and opening with the great Sanath Jayasuriya, Munaweera has been a sensation destroying opposing bowlers both pace and spin alike. It will not be surprising to see the young Munaweera continuing the role of both Dilshan and Jayasuriya at the top of the order for Sri Lanka in the not too distant future and batting alongside the great man for the club would have surely been an education for the young Munaweera, which is bound to hold him well in the future.
Looking deeper in to the side, it includes some top all rounder's of the caliber of Sachith Pathirana, Thisara Perera, Ishan Jayaratne and Udara Peries. Pathirana the Trinity Lion has the greatest credentials of the lot with his exploits for Sri Lanka in the age group level both as captain and player.
His performance for the CCC too has been noteworthy. A hard hitting left hander who can score runs quickly and a penetrative left arm spinner who is capable of running through sides. Thisara Perera the former Josephian should consider himself unlucky! Having come so close to been selected to the T20 world cup after a sterling performance in Inter Provincial 20/20 Tournament, Perera hasn't progressed the distance most expected him to go. A brisk and an aggressive opening bowler Perera definitely has the pace to intimidate any batsmen and could also use the willow to good effect when batting. Ishan Jayaratne of Wesley and Colts is another young all-rounder on the horizon! Sadly plagued by Injury Jayaratne has made good recovery to be on the plane to New Zealand along with Udara Jayasundara the off spinning all rounder. These are some of the names of a highly talented and a balanced outfit that will take wing.
Add to these names the name of Dinesh Chandimal who is one of the best things that has happened to Sri Lanka and is also figuring very prominently in the local scene. Being a wicket keeper batsman Chandimal is capable of providing the all-round depth and provide the much needed balance any team would be looking for.
The players I have spoken of may not be household names as of now, but when one takes a closer look at not just their stats but their potential it is just a matter of time before a few at least take the next step up very soon, and as for the others they will be there too in a very short time. Let's not forget that the current national team is not getting any younger. It will never be easy to fill the vaccum of Jayasuriya, Dilshan, Sangakkara, Jayawardane and Samaraweera or the bowlers when they decide to hang up their boots one day. But at least one could rest assuredly when one remembers that Sri Lanka has real quality players filtering through to the bigger scene.
Roshan Abeysinghe is a leading cricket promoter and an international cricket commentator