Age, talent and consistency

Amidst controversies plaguing Sri Lanka cricket, it is timely that those in authority sat up and took notice of where our cricket is heading.

Here’s some food for thought. None could possibly ignore the proven prowess with the bat of Jeevantha Kulatunga, the talented player from Kurunegala, who made his presence felt in the recently concluded Inter-Provincial T20 Tournament 2009-2010. In six games, twice unbeaten, he had an aggregate of 277 runs, with the highest score of 104 n.o, an average of 69.25 and a significant strike rate of 153.19.

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Being the most successful batsman, he was adjudged the Man of the Tournament. It is indeed ironic that while he should have been an automatic choice for the squad which toured the West Indies for the World Cup T20 Tournament, he was left languishing, while an older player who failed utterly in the Inter-Provincial Tournament was picked.

It is understood that he was rejected on the age factor. This is strange, since Jeewantha is only 36 years of age. However, the player much senior in age, who had been picked, proved to be only a liability. Very few people would remember that Jeewantha is the only player in Sri Lanka, who had scored centuries in all three forms of the game at Inter-Provincial Tournaments. In the longer version of the game he has a double hundred. His performance record in the Premier League Tournament proves it.

It is further understood that Jeewantha, despite all his proven capabilities has neither been nominated for the Sri Lankan tour of Zimbabwe, nor for the A team tour of Australia, despite the fact that senior players were rested.

Thus, the cricket-loving public of Sri Lanka is deprived of the opportunity of watching a talented and exciting player in action, all because of the whims and fancies of those in authority. I doubt if these kinds of selections represent public opinion.

The selection of under-performing players cannot be justified or condoned at all. Among the cricketers victimized in the recent past is none other than Chaminda Vaas, the renowned cricketer who has maintained his physical fitness.

His bowling performance at the IPL Tournament for the Deccan Chargers won much acclaim. His early break-throughs and his ability to contain the runs in the last overs were significant feats. When Vaas was dropped for the game against Mumbai Indians, former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu expressed shock and disbelief as Vaas is one of the bowlers in the world who has been extremely successful against Sachin Tendulkar.

I feel he is the most successful medium-fast bowler Sri Lanka has ever produced and his record in the sub-continent deserves respect. Further, I feel he should be provided a graceful exit from one day games for his yeoman service and contribution to Sri Lanka cricket for seventeen years. It is humorous that the age factor is quoted to keep out these players after all Tendulkar scored the first ever double hundred in a fifty-over match at the age of 36.

This proves that fitness levels only count and that age is no barrier for performance. In the best interest of Sri Lanka cricket, it is the earnest wish of all Sri Lankan cricket lovers that the new Minister of Sports will investigate and intervene as he thinks appropriate. Let’s hope he acts before it is too late.

Nalin Rajapakse, Kottawa

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