ONE: “Will Sri Lanka cold-shoulder Vandersay again?” by Sportswriter, Sunday Observer, 13 May 2018
Uncapped leg spin bowler Jeffrey Vandersay has been recalled into the Sri Lanka squad for the upcoming three-Test tour of the West Indies, but experts fear that he will most likely sit out the matches as has been the case before. Vandersay shot to the limelight by taking seven wickets in a three-day match against Pakistan three years ago but was not selected for the ensuing Test series against the same opposition.
Instead he was thereafter thrown on and off into T20 matches bowling just a quota of four overs or less. With veteran Rangana Herath also in the tour party it is unlikely that Sri Lanka will deploy two leg-spinners in the Caribbean which only adds to the concern that Vandersay now age 28 will have to wait. A Sri Lanka team official said Vandersay’s selection to the final playing eleven will depend on team requirements and plans.
Herath is the only player in the Sri Lanka squad who has played Test cricket in the West Indies with the rest of the squad including Angelo Mathews touring the islands for the first time.
Sri Lanka last toured the West Indies ten years ago.
Also selected are three other uncapped players in batsman Mahela Udawatte and fast bowlers Kasun Rajitha and Asitha Fernando. The three are seen more as injury replacements than first-place players with 31-year old Udawatte entering the squad in the absence of opener Dimuth Karunaratne while 24-year old Kasun Rajitha from St. Servatius College Matara and 20-year old Asitha Fernando from St. Sebastian’s College in Katuneriya fill the voids left by Dushmantha Chameera and Nuwan Pradeep Fernando.
The first Test between Sri Lanka and the West Indies start on June 6 at Port of Spain Trinidad, Trinidad followed by the second match from June 14 to 18 at Gros Islet St. Lucia. The final Test will be from June 23 to 27 in Barbados.
Sri Lanka squad:
Dinesh Chandimal (captain), Mahela Udawatte, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lahiru Gamage, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal (subject to fitness test), Lahiru Kumara, Asitha Fernando
Veteran Rangana Herath will only be available for two of the three Test matches that Sri Lanka play in the Caribbean later next month. It’s a trend that Sri Lanka Cricket has followed since last year with their former captain in a bid to help the 40-year-old to extend his career. The final Test in Barbados, which will be a pink ball day-night game, looks likely to be the contest the experienced spinner will be left out from.
“Rangana will play only two Test matches. He will play the first Test and then we will take a look at how we go about it. Most probably he will sit out the pink ball Test, where the seamers come in handier. Each inning he turns up to bowl Herath sends down some 30 overs and it is tough on him. We need to manage him properly, “Labrooy said.
Paceman Suranga Lakmal, who missed the Inter-Provincial First Class tournament due to a side strain, also will be available only for two Tests as the selectors look to preserve him.
“Suranga too will most probably play two Tests. We want to protect him. We are carrying 17 players on tour and that is to meet these demands. The two extra fast bowlers are with the pink ball Test in mind,” Labrooy went onto add.
Labrooy also said that it was a tough call to leave out opener Dimuth Karunaratne. The left-handed batsman, Sri Lanka’s most successful batter in 2017 fractured his left index finger and although the doctors were confident that he will be fit by the second Test match in St. Lucia, the selectors weren’t too keen, having stressed a lot on fitness.
“With Dimuth it was touch and go. The medical team was of the view that he had an outside chance to make it for the second Test. But we were worried. Six weeks away from the game he will have little training under his belt. We don’t want to rush him. We want him to come back fresh for the South African series.
Angelo Mathews will make a comeback to the side but his return is subject to fitness along with that of Suranga Lakmal However, Labrooy said that these were routine fitness assessments. “They have been declared fit but we want to see them in match conditions. They have not played much cricket in the last couple of months apart from a few one-dayers. In Kandy, we are going through match situations at the moment and if they come through those match situations they should be fine,” he went onto say.