two, three selectors caught a...
By S. R Pathiravithana
In these frugal times it’s mind boggling to note that the
Sri Lankan selectors can still afford the luxury of sending players
on learning holidays on real tours. A newspaper report contained
a story to the fact that the Sri Lanka team manager Michael Tissera
reportedly being quoted as saying that young 18-year-old Chamara
Kapugedera was sent to India only to be in the company of the seniors
as a learning experience.
his holiday was cut short and he had to come back home with a knee
injury sustained while at practices. Taking Kapugedera’s track
record one wonders if this young man is a real genius in the Ranatunge
calibre? He has one first class inning in which he scored a good
70 while he also made a belligerent 93 not out for CCC in a twenty-twenty
match. However in both forms of batting he has an average of over
other day I was having a chat with a prominent youngster who is
a regular feature for one of the leading clubs in the Colombo cricket
triangle. Obviously our topic was based on cricket which had us
spellbound and the others around us almost bored. Because we were
talking about the local scene and they did not know much about it.
Suddenly I remembered this Kapugedera guy.
I asked this colourful guy what were his impressions of this youngster,
he said “Kapugedera is indeed good material and he is good
talent. Initially he is a bit wobbly, but once he gets his eye in
he hits the ball harder than most of the other players. When he
hits the balls stays hit. He is good one-day stuff. I wonder how
he was chosen for a Test tour.” There I brushed aside his
comment because this is the thin line where the selectors are selectors
and players are players.
next question was “If you say that Kapugedera is good, but
is only one-day stuff, who are the players around who have the knack
of building an innings and then pace it along?” His answer
was prompt “The players who can do that are the seniors like
Kumar Dharmasena, Russel Arnold etc. who have been in the scene
for a period of time, but, I have not seen any during my era who
tend to apply themselves and build a long innings. All these players
who are my age like to go for their shots from the beginning and
if they succeed they will score”.
was a comment that came from the bottom of the heart of a player
who is in the premier circuit and this little comment says a mighty
lot about the status of present day cricket. At the same time even
the national selectors have endorsed this statement. I will show
Kapugedera’s injury and his return to the island the national
selectors once again sat together to ascertain who his successor
was to be. Then when they opened the cupboard they surely would
have found it bare, with no proper contender to claim the stake.
Then while sifting the remnants they may have stumbled upon Jehan
Mubarak to be the lad to get a SLC paid holiday.
Mubarak is not the hottest material in batting, and surely not Test
material. He has proved it himself by scoring 48, 13, 15 and 2 in
the four innings that he spent time at the crease wearing the Test
cap of Sri Lanka. He has an average of 20.87 in Test cricket and
even in first class cricket his average is less than thirty. With
all due respects to his abilities his deeds beyond the boundary
lines prove that he not a Clark, a Hussy or even a Raina.
What depths have our local cricket plunged to? For instance take
the English side. You give young Kevin Peiterson a chance in the
one-day team, Graham Thorpe one of England’s foremost batsmen
in his prime loses his place. Then in India Raina’s and Dhoni’s
have blocked the way for batsmen in the calibre of V.V.S. Luxman
and Saurav Ganguly to stake a claim to their rightful places in
the team. In Australia you get down from the wrong side of the bed
one morning and you will find another youngster has padded up for
the country in your place.
in Sri Lanka and the West Indies there is a definite dearth of young
talent. One could argue that in the West Indies at present the tide
is against cricket and is shifting towards American sports where
there is bigger money. Then what about Sri Lanka? In Sri Lanka cricket
is by far the most popular sport. But bad administration especially
at the lower levels of the sport mingled with image cleansing, political
bickering and a host of allied minus factors have brought the levels
of the game to an all time low.
back to this pathetic tale of woe, it must be stressed that the
selectors also must take their share of the blame. At this point
of time the question arises as to what were the criteria for the
selection of Mubarak? Had he a fantastic “A” team run
during the past year especially in the lap against South Africa
and New Zealand? No, it was below average according to the asking
standards. In the same breath I am no hero worshipper of Arnold.
Yes, he was dropped from the touring squad for the Test matches.
But, his performances were reasonably good or was bad as anybody
else’ who was in the ODI team. He was definitely unlucky to
be chopped, but when the winds of change blow even big trees fall
by the wayside at times.
the selectors shouldn’t have been as ‘block-headed’
as they were in selecting Mubarak. There is no argument, right at
this moment that the cupboard is bare and there are suitable replacements
to the senior side. At thirty two years and a few days old, Arnold
still has a few years of cricket left in him. And if the selectors
could not find any suitable replacement certainly they could have
been large hearted enough to give Arnold another go without letting
things, other than what happens in the middle, get the better of