THE PUZZLE as presented by MICHAEL ROBERTS
I faced a puzzling issue after the recent Test Match at Durban: which batsmen to select in which order for positions 1-to-7 in the next tour after South Africa …… So, I sent this circular to cricketing aficionados in my circuit.
A = Not having followed SL domestic cricket closely I was surprised to see Oshada Fernando ahead of Angelo Perera and at No 3, but he proved the selectors right.
B = So, in the circumstances, which SEVEN BATSMEN would you choose for the First Test on the next tour if all are fit
DEFINITES = Dimuth, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Perera
THE: choose from …..……………… Dickwella, Chandimal, Oshada, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya, Sajeewa S, Roshen Silva, Angelo P, Thirimanne
Your order of preference for the last lot?
Gerald Peiris …. Geography, a Peradeniya mate and avid follower of the game
Dickwella, Chandimal, Oshada & Dhananjaya in addition to the ‘Definites’ ………………..Gerry
Michael Tissera in Colombo
I liked Oshada. Never seen him before but he played straight, got behind the ball and kept his eye on it. To me he seems to be technically correct.
I think Dhananjaya is a good player too and has time to play.
Kusal Mendis though having a lean spell has proved he has it in him to be among the top bracket.
This leaves Dickwella and Chandimal. Can we toss for that!
Errol Fernando in Melbourne … a cricketing mate from yesteryear
Michael, ………………..Dimuth to open with Thirimanne, then juggle around with Mendis, Mathews, Chandimal and Kusal Perera.
I am not concerned about the 7th batsman!!
Nicholas Brookes in Colombo…. A Jamaican Brit who is for Lanka & in Colombo at present**[a]
Hmmm it’s a very tricky one…
Complicated by the fact that SL now seem to have a glut of good middle-order players and no one to open with Dimuth.
They’ve obviously seen enough from Thirimanne to think he can produce at Test level (although his record suggests otherwise). So, I think he needs a run of games. If he fails, could one of the others be shunted up the order? Oshada Fernando looks as though he could have the game, but I’m not sure if he’s ever opened…
I’d say Dickwella’s done just about enough to keep the gloves. Some decent knocks this winter and a reasonably reliable gloveman. But he’s now played 30 tests without scoring a hundred, and if he doesn’t make one in the next 12 months, I think pressure starts to mount. If he doesn’t step up, are Chandimal, Samarawickrama or Kusal M competent enough keepers to take the gloves?
So that leaves us with two spots — which at the moment I would give to Chandi and Mendis (despite the fact that his lack of consistency and tendency to play loose shots early on is starting to really wind me up). Feel harsh leaving Dhananjaya (my favourite to watch), Roshen (who hasn’t done too much wrong) and Oshada out, but nice to have some quality players waiting in the wings…
So, for now, a top 7 of:
Kusal M (probably one spot too high)
Although spots are up for grabs. If anyone can make 100 in the second SA Test, they may well shove their way to front of queue.
Jagath Fernando in Colombo …. Royal College & then Ceylon Schoolboys team, circa 1970
U Mike, ………….. My two cents. I have not been following them closely but based on my current perceptions in order of preference [in addition to the three named]:
- Kusal Mendis
- Dhananjaya De Silva
I don’t know Sajeewa S, so no comment.
Angelo P has had many opportunities and not delivered.
The one certainty who definitely should be out of the frame in my view is Thirimanne!!
A Cricket Aficianados in Colombo
Oshada enjoyed a bit of luck, which you need of course, but I’m not convinced that he has the technique to bat at # 3. Time will tell.
Of the others, Thirimanne is a definite NO for me and does not deserve to be there given the endless ops he has been given. At the other end of the scale, it is disgraceful how Roshen Silva has been treated and took so long to be even given an op. Just a year older than Thiri, he is the only batsman in recent times that has averaged nearly 50 in FC cricket, while most barely hit 40 before they are given ops. But this has always been the trend with SL, where a chosen few proven failures are given countless ops to succeed, while other more deserving players are dropped at the slightest hint of failure.
I will also drop Dickwella! I don’t think there’s room for both D’wella and Kusal so Kusal gets the nod after this last innings. D’well appears to me to be a highly-strung fellow who seems incapable of controlling his emotions, as demonstrated by his stupid missed stumping of Sam Curran which cost us the Test. So, until he converts his gold-plated 20 & 30s into 100s, which requires him to significantly grow up, he’ll be out of my 11.
I’m a big fan of Dhananjaya de Silva but he must address his zero footwork at the start of an innings. He moves forward or back only with his upper body and not with his feet, so he’s frequently finding himself in no man’s land.
My seven therefore would be Dimuth, Dhananjaya (seeing that he opens in club cricket), Kusal M, Angelo M, Chandimal, Roshen, Kusal P. Happy to give Angelo Perera a run in place of perhaps Chandi.
[a] Brookes is one of the authors (with Ben Golby) of “In Colombo, three is not a crowd” The Cricket Monthly, 19 November 2018, which essay is also available at https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/11/29/the-political-tussles-behind-the-cricketing-grounds-in-colombo-1945-2018/