Kusal set to lead SL against Tigers

Sports Correspondent

7 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Sri Lanka Cricket undertakes a major overhaul of its limited-over sides as Kusal Perera is all set to take over as captaincy during the upcoming three-match ODI series against Bangladesh, scheduled from May 23.

The Daily Sun learnt that Kusal Mendis will act as his deputy during the tour as the board is planning to pave ways for the young guns at the expense of a number of senior cricketers.

Perera is likely to replace Dimuth Karunaratne as ODI skipper while Mendis is likely to take over the position of vice-captain and according to board sources and they are planning to groom Mendis as the successor of one-day side provided he reforms himself to be a disciplined leader.

“If the captain can’t find an automatic place in the playing XI on the merit of his performance, we aren’t keen on retaining him as captain. So we have weighed all options and ultimately it comes to Kusal Perera,” said an SLC official on request of anonymity.

The idea of focusing on young blood in white-ball cricket came forward after this strategy has been implemented successfully in a small way in Test cricket on recent tours.

Seniors like Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne are likely to lose their places in the white-ball side, making way for younger players to come to the side.

“Our selectors and team management think the more radical selection is the only way forward for the struggling white-ball team,” said the official.

Few eyebrows were raised at the possible axing Mathews and Chandimal, the two most experienced batters in limited-over cricket (having made their respective debuts over a decade ago) considering the duo have been the pillar of their strength.

“It’s a tough call. We have been relying heavily on them for too long but the question is whether we were able to achieve our intended goals,” said an official having close links with the development.

The strategy could face strong protest from senior players who would like the team to be selected on the merit of their performances without any discrimination on the basis of age but SLC likely to back the process.

Sri Lanka recently appointed a five-member new selection panel headed by former Sri Lanka fast bowler Pramodya Wickremasinghe and also brought Tom Moody as Director Cricket, a newly created position with wide-ranging powers to make Sri Lanka cricket great once again.

The Board also appointed an eminent panel of cricketers headed by Aravinda de Silva to the Cricket Committee to revamp the entire cricketing structure.

The new Cricket Committee which also includes former greats in Roshan Mahanama, Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitharan have also prepared a new payment structure for cricketers introducing a substantial pay cut on their contract fees.

“This new strategy got nothing to do with the prevailing crisis after it was revealed that there will be a pay cut,” the source concluded.