The team picked by the selectors was no surprise to me. There was much speculation about Vaas and Sanath. To me Sanath would have merited a place if they preferred him over Rangana Herath as a bowler. Rangana Herath is the unsung hero. He has played so long but yet not got the best of opportunities. On the type of wickets in the sub continent there is no shadowing a bowler of the likes of Rangana Herath.
The only way Vaas could have been retained in the 15 was if Kulasekera was not available. Consider, we have an entire retinue of bowlers churning them right handed. Kulasekera, do not forget was the number one bowler in this format not so long ago. He deserves to be in the squad but has to now perform to his potential.
Many would debate the inclusion of Thilan Samaraweera. They would probably not know that he has made four half centuries batting in the middle for SSC in the four outings that he has played in the current domestic tourney. He may not be the best fielder in the park but has done enough over players like Jeewan, Kandamby and Chandimal. These players , though with promise have not done enough to dislodge Thilan.
Dilhara Fernando gets the nod because ‘lefties’ such as Mirando and the Welagedera have not bowled well enough to be noticed. Dilhara would have found it tough had they peaked. There was a time that both Malinga and Dilhara were not automatic choices because of inconsistency. Malinga is now the mainstay. This would allow Dilhara to go flat out and we saw him reach 150 kmph. This would be a good combination.
Fine. The team held no surprises. Now it’s down to strategy and planning. It’s time Sanga and the management built a unit for cohesion. Horses for courses. The right mix for each game even at the risk of resting a senior/top player depending on the needs of the team for that particular game. Everyone in the 15 should be ready to step up and, importantly, step down depending on the need. That’s where Sanga should come in and keep them happy and focused on the bigger picture. Given the day someone other than the stars would be the bowler/batsman of the day, he has been a bit slack in this area.
When Suraj Randiv came through on the Indian tour most wrote off Murali. But a champion will always come through. Like batsmen bowlers too peak and then have dips. Suraj hasn’t done anything of significance in the recent domestic games. He will have to take responsibility for the bulk work when Murali leaves and should work hard, now.
All talk of India and Sri Lanka being hot favourites this time around. Do not write off England. We have preconceived notions about our wickets and also the fact that teams like England cannot handle spin. They have been playing well recently and also the wickets in this region are playing well now. Most matches are day-nighters and the ball is bound to seam. So, England are in the running and very much so.
Dilshan can be our star. We all remember Sanath in ’96. Starts are important and Dilshan should provide it. Samaraweera at no. 5 gives the stability and strength to the two above and below if he is at the centre. Mathews at 6 is a solid top half. If Kulasekera gives the start and Malinga comes in thereafter, it’s perfect. The World Cup comes once in four years and the players lucky enough should make the most of it. I recall Dav Whatmore saying in ’96, save some fuel for the next game. Consider, we were playing India in the semi’s and Dav was yet saying “save some fuel for the next one”. We were mentally preparing for the next one, in this case the final. Many a good player do not get a chance to play in a World Cup. Some favourite teams bow out early. That’s the beauty of a World Cup.
So, now what about Vaas and Sanath? Will they yet get a game against the Windies to say good bye? What about the spectators? Tough one that.