Sri Lanka’s second string team achieving the herculean job of whitewashing the world’s No.1 T20 team Pakistan 3-nil in their own backyard must be viewed as a significant turnaround in the country’s cricket fortunes from the doldrums. It is more the remarkable that new vistas were opened rather by coincidence that paved the way for departure from the usual stereotype selections of a regular band of senior cricketers on whom the national selectors had kept pinning their faith. Indeed, the change for the good dawning by a tryst of the selectors having to turn to a second string team to play in Pakistan due to security fears among the senior players following the aborted 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team has served as an eye opener for the selectors as to where they should look and that all their eggs are not confined in one basket.
It is a timely reminder that latent talent at large must be viewed and seriously considered for national duty by promoting gifted young players like the T20 team to Pakistan who have proved that they constitute the winning depth as demonstrated against the Pakistanis.
All these players are in the prime of their careers in the mid 20 age groove which is the ideal performance youth nick in the highly challenging regours of international cricket. There was young Dasun Shanaka accomplishing himself as a captain marvel given the harsh circumstances of uncertainty that revolved around the controversial tour to Pakistan where no real international cricket had been played since 2009 except for the one off T20 in 2017 when Sri Lanka toured as part of its 3-match series two of which were in the UAE.
The new brigade that has come to the reckoning from the Pakistan tour does carry the irony in that Shanaka and Danushka Gunathilaka in reality hail from the senior block, but had been strangely sidelined surprisingly starting from their omissions for the 2019 Cricket World Cup which ended badly for Sri Lanka. Other players who acquitted themselves with bravo were all-round leg spinner Wanidu Hasaranga who proved to be the find of the tour along with Banuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando and Minod Bhanuka. It has given the selectors fodder for change as chief selector, Asantha de Mel himself echoed in the post-Pakistan tour press briefing. It has with it put the onus on the seniors to do or depart creating the climate for high competition for places.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-