Sangakkara on the World Cup Squad Decisions

Dilanka Manakkara’s Interview, from Daily News, 11 January 2011

  The much awaited Sri Lankan World Cup squad was chosen way before the deadline of January15 before none of the teams had finalized their 15. Sri Lanka Skipper Kumar Sangakkara expressed his views on the omission of prolific off spinner Suraj Randiv,the axing of old war horses Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas and also the retention of the relatively inconsistent Chamara Kapugedara.

 To have variety: “The hardest decision was to leave out Randiv from the squad who had performed pretty well in the past 12 months,” said Skipper Kumar Sangakkara talking exclusively to Daily News regarding the selection of the World Cup squad. He said that Suraj Randiv was left out mainly because Muralitharan will play almost all matches and that a second off spinner would be hard to fit in the 11 and that Ajantha Mendis is still only mastered by a few batsmen.                                                    

 This photo is from the Island, 11 Jan 2011

 Difficult to leave out: “Rangana was added for the variety and we would use him a lot against right handers and some times we might only play a sole spinner in Murali,” said a confident Sangakkara.

“It was difficult to leave out stalwarts Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas from the squad but only the 15 best would get selected at the end of the day and these decisions should be made even with a lot of emotion attached to it,” said Sanagakkara reasoning out the axing of the two veterans.

Superb with the new ball: “Vaasy has been superb with the new ball even in the English county season and the Premier league but his direct competition came from Kulasekara who has been our star ODI bowler for the past 18 months and Vaasy isn’t that effective with the older ball and in the death overs,” mentioned Sangakkara as to why an in form Vaas didn’t find his way in to the team. “Vaasy had a very realistic chance of making the 11 but our pace bowlers have bowled so well in the recent past so it became difficult to leave some of these guys to have Vaasy in.”

This author raised the question as to how Chamara Kapugedara who hasn’t been consistent at all and has a poor average of 22.95 in 86 ODIs and a below par strike rate of 72 which is way below international standard for a No 7 batsmen has been retained and Sangakkara stated that “Kapugedera is a brilliant fielder and he brings a lot to the team in terms of uplifting team spirit, boosting morale and can also make important runs.” He also said that although Kapugedara hasn’t made a lot of runs in the past one year, he can chip in with some useful knocks lower down the order.

Comment from Michael Roberts:

This is a balanced squad and there is much to commend in the Selectors’ reasoning. Yes, very tough on Randiv but it one must not forget that he played several games recently because Murali was not available. I have a lot of time for Rangana Herath (also a fighter just as Randiv is, with equivalent batting capacity to Randiv).

 My issue is whether Randiv is not preferable to Ajantha Mendis? a toss-up really because one can argue both ways. Randiv is more useful with the bat and far far better as a fielder. But Mendis provides the prospect of skittling batsmen and it is hoped that his recent captaincy stint I with the Army side has ironed out his airhead behaviour on the field.

 Personally I would have preferred more bowling options to be available. because of his potential as a bowler but also because he is a handy with a bat, I would have chosen Vaas as ideal for local and Indian conditions; and slotted him in the XV in place of one batsman not Kulasekera. That is, I would have excluded one of the Chamaras or Tharanga, probably the first option.

 Finally I hope both cricketers and fans forget the victory in 1996. Eliminating wishful thinking and a measured focus on every match in front of the team, and every half-hour within a game, is the way for management and players to go.

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