Thirty one year old Upul Tharanga will be considered only as a middle-order batsman in the future, Chairman of Selectors, Sanath Jayasuriya said today.
After a disastrous tour of England, Sri Lanka team returned to the Island today in the afternoon.
“I think with all his experience, he is much more suited as a middle-order batsman. We will persist with him at no.6 in the ODIs against Australia as well.” Jayasuriya said at a media briefing held today at SLC headquarters.
Tharanga was the most-experienced player in the Sri Lanka ODI squad against England even though he has scored all of his 13 centuries at the top of the order. Two innings of 53 not out off 49 balls and 40 off 33 at Edgbaston and Bristol respectively in the recently-concluded ODI series suggests he will be continued in the middle-order.
“Almost during each game, a fast-bowler gets injured and it’s really a big problem for us as selectors. We need to discuss further with the SLC administration on how to tackle this issue. We also need the commitment from the players. You can’t deny that also. I’m saying that in front of the players. They have to come out of their comfort zone and train. “ Jayasuriya blamed the injuries occurred during the course of the tour stating they hindered Sri Lanka’s chances of repeating their 2014 efforts this year.
“When we landed we didn’t expect a positive welcome, but we got one, it’s great to see people back us when we are down.” Mathews still believes the love of the fans is crucial to their rebuilding phase.
Jayasuriya lauded the efforts of the young Kusal Mendis who batted superbly during the whole of England tour, “Kusal Mendis is the future of Sri Lanka Cricket. The way he played against the likes of Anderson and Broad was praiseworthy.” Jayasuriya said.
The former skipper and chief of selectors also stated that Tillakarathne Dilshan has returned to training after opting out of selections for the England tour and will most probably feature in the upcoming Australia ODI and T20I series’.
“We are not looking to make big changes to our batting lineup for the Australia tour. Young players like Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilake and Kusal Janith performed well but were not consistent in England while Chandimal was brilliant at no.4 in the ODIS, so was Tharanga at no.6. In those days, sadly our bowlers did not do their job properly. We’ve never had a perfect game.” Mathews mentioned some of the positives out of the tour.
“We need a good balance of youth and experience in a team. You simply cannot play 11 youngsters at one time. Our main target is 2019 ICC World Cup. Sadly, Vandersay was injured before the tour and Seekkuge Prasanna was doing well in England at that time, that’s why we selected him. Unfortunately, he was not successful. We have a young crop of players, so we needed a bit of experience. That’s why we opted for the fast-bowling all-rounder Farveez Maharoof in those conditions. He was also not as successful as we wanted, but going forward, we will certainly look at a balance of youth and experience.” Mathews defended the selections of Prasanna and Maharoof.
Jayasuriya further hinted that Milinda Siriwardana who was dropped from the England ODI and T20I squads will make a return in the Australia tour to fill in the all-rounders’ place, occupied mostly by a spin-bowling batsman in spin-friendly conditions in Sri Lanka.