Apr 082014
Jayawardene, Sangakkara hit back at criticism

Published: 11:04AM Wednesday April 09, 2014 Source: AP

Veterans Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara hit out today at Sri Lanka Cricket administrators who criticised them for announcing their retirement from Twenty20 internationals to the media without discussing with the board first.

The former captains, who are both aged 36, revealed their plans to retire from the shortest form of international cricket just before start of the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh – a tournament they went on to win on Monday (NZT).

At a news conference on their return, the players said they only responded to a media query – adding that they had simply said they were playing in their last World Twenty20 and hadn’t mentioned retirement.

SLC Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga and Chief Executive Officer Ashley de Silva had criticised them without ascertaining the truth, the players said.

Chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya had also said that he felt let down by the senior players.

“We are deeply saddened by the way in which the chief executive and the secretary went before media and told things about us without asking us if we made such a statement,” Jayawardene said.

“If they are responsible people they should have asked us first if we made such a statement or not.”

“It is disappointing that those responsible disturbed our state of mind just before the tournament,” he said.

Sangakkara also said that he agreed with Jayawardene’s stand and said they were not responsible for the dispute.

Jayawardene played 55 Twenty20 internationals before his retirement for 1,493 runs also including a century while Sangakkara played 56 and scored 1,382 runs.

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Oct 252013
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Jan 302013
Tillakaratne joins SLC selection panel
Hashan Tillakaratne speaks to reporters in Colombo, May 3, 2011

Hashan Tillakaratne is ready to combine his roles as MP and selector © AFP

Former Test batsman Hashan Tillakaratne has replaced Hemantha Wickramaratne in Sri Lanka’s new selection panel, after Wickramaratne stepped down due to work commitments, new chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya said.

Tillakaratne had been among the nominees sent to the sports minister by Sri Lanka Cricket, but had not been appointed in the five-member panel on Monday. Tillakaratne is a member of parliament for the United National Party, which is in opposition to the United People’s Freedom Alliance of which Jayasuriya and the sports minister are members.

Wickramaratne had resigned because he was called upon to become one of the two full-time selectors on the panel, but was unable to relinquish his other commitments. “He can’t be a full time selector with us because of his work,” Jayasuriya said. “Because of that we’ve got Hashan Tillakaratne in our panel, who has played a lot of international cricket and brings that experience.”

Tillakaratne will be a full time selector alongside former fast-bowling team-mate Pramodya Wickramasinghe, while Jayasuriya, Eric Upashantha and Chaminda Mendis will be employed part-time. Tillakaratne had been a critic of the current administration, and had even alleged political interference in the last SLC elections. He said he would continue to hold his post as a member of parliament, while he worked as a full-time selector.

“I took this job because I see it as a duty,” Tillakaratne said. “I played for a long time and benefited from the game, and I think if I can help take Sri Lanka cricket forward in any way, I have a duty to do that.

“I do have the time to be both an MP and a full time selector, and it is after considering all that that I decided to accept this position. Sanath was one of the best cricketers in the world and I’m enthusiastic about working with him and the rest of the panel. I think we will be able to do something good.”

SLC had said it would endeavour to cut its ties with politics after Haroon Lorgat issued his report recommending less political influence in the board, but with two politicians now on the selection panel and the with no moves having been taken to cut the sports minister out of the selection process, superficially, politics has become even more embedded in cricket administration.

Jayasuriya was adamant however, that his panel’s sole focus would be on cricket, and that the selectors’ political affiliation would not affect their work for SLC. “We’re not concerned with the politics of either party on this panel. What we are concerned with is Sri Lanka’s cricket and that will be our top priority. We should thank the sports minister for choosing someone like Hashan, who has played for Sri Lanka and also been a good captain.

“The sports minister has given us the freedom to act independently of political affiliations and it was encouraging to hear that. We will stay focused on improving Sri Lanka’s cricket.”

Tillakaratne was a stylish left-handed batsman who played 83 Tests and 200 ODIs for Sri Lanka. He captained the side in 11 Tests between 1999 and 2004, and was a member of the World Cup winning side alongside Jayasuriya and Wickramasinghe in 1996.

Jan 302013
Jayasuriya promises fair selection
Sanath Jayasuriya speaks about his new role as chief selector, Colombo, January, 30, 2013

Sanath Jayasuriya’s first tasks include finding a new Test and ODI captain © AFP

Sri Lanka’s new chairman of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya has highlighted the value of senior players in the Test side, after weeks of rumours suggested Mahela Jayawardene may be cut from the team after his public spat with the selectors last month.

Other rumours also suggested Kumar Sangakkara’s place was in doubt, as he was captain when Jayasuriya was dropped from the limited overs sides, but Jayasuriya said he did not bring any prejudices to his new role, and that selections will be made objectively.

Jayawardene had expressed his dismay at seeing a confidential letter to SLC in the papers in December, when he wrote to news outlets to clarify the letter’s context and stated he had “lost all confidence in dealing with SLC” as a result of the leak. SLC then issued a statement saying Jayawardene’s comments would be reviewed by the executive committee, but no concrete disciplinary action has been taken, over a month later.

Jayasuriya reiterated that his panel would not be waylaid by past disagreements or politics, and would instead endeavour only to improve cricket in Sri Lanka.

“I’ve already said that we need the senior cricketers in the set up,” he said. “Without senior players, it’s very difficult for the youngsters to go forward. As a selection panel, we haven’t had discussions yet, but the seniors have a role to play.

“We haven’t been appointed to cut Mahela or Sangakkara from the team, we’re here to make good selections. It’s good to introduce one or two youngsters in the team, but you can’t make big changes at once. We will work step-by-step with the seniors.”

Jayasuriya also laid out a rough strategy for his panel, two of whom will be employed as full-time selectors, and said there would be a greater drive to unearth talent from Sri Lanka’s club system. Hashan Tillakaratne and Pramodya Wickramasinghe have been given the full-time roles.

“What we expect from the full time selectors is that they play close attention to every match, with specific objectives in mind. Maybe one of them will focus on Under-19 cricket and the A team, and the other will work closely with the national team and be there at training. The remaining members will also have specific roles, and we will be watching club cricket and will be informed about under-19 cricket as well.”

Jayasuriya said he may also send a letter to each of the clubs asking them to select their six best players, who will then travel to Colombo for a two-day training camp which the selectors will oversee.

“There might be cricketers in those clubs that are good enough to play for Sri Lanka, but they have been missed. If we have a two-day period when we can observe them, we will have a good idea of who the talented players are. We can even form a database, and if someone starts doing well at club level, we already have an idea of how good they are.”

One of the new panel’s first tasks will be to name a new Test and ODI captain after Jayawardene stepped down from the post during the tour of Australia, but Jayasuriya would not be drawn on whether he favoured a split captaincy, nor would he name potential candidates for the job.

“There are a few names, but we haven’t discussed anything yet, and we haven’t talked about any captaincy issues. There has been a lot of media speculation about what we have been discussing or who we will appoint, but there’s nothing like that. That’s a decision that needs to be thought out carefully and discussed a lot.”

The new panel officially takes over on February 1, and will be charged first with naming a Test side for the upcoming Bangladesh tour of Sri Lanka which begins on March 9.

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