Roger defends selections, despite absence of leading bowler


Sri Lanka Under-19 skipper Charith Asalanka (of Richmond) shakes hands with Mehidy Husan Miraz, the captain of Bangladesh Under-19 team, after the pre series press conference on Friday. (Pix by Dimuthu Premaratne)

by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka Under-19s coach Roger Wijesuriya defended the team selection for the home series against Bangladesh Under-19s despite some leading wicket takers including the highest wicket taker of the Inter School Under-19 tournament not even being called for trial matches.

National selectors included former Sri Lanka player and current selector Hashan Tillakaratne’s both sons (left-arm spinners) in a 31-man squad for the series, leaving out some of the leading wicket takers including the highest wicket taker of the ongoing schools cricket season, Chanaka Devinda, a left-arm spinner who had taken more than 50 wickets at the time of selection.

At a press conference held on Friday, Carlton Bernardus, the Head of Cricket Operations of SLC, said that the team for the Bangladesh Under-19 series has been picked from the best players of the ongoing Inter School Under-19 tournament.

Asked as to how a player who was good enough to take 50 wickets in the inter school cricket season was not considered even for trials, Wijesuriya said that Sri Lanka has plenty of talent to choose from and the players who have not been picked this time around will get opportunities later.

"We have plenty of talent. Those who have not been selected for this series will get an opportunity in the next series. The selectors have had a look at all good bowlers and have picked this team," said Wijesuriya in reply to a query by The Island.

Wijesuriya said that the team had been picked by junior national selectors and Hashan Tillakaratne not involved in selections.

The national selectors have pruned the 31-member squad to 17 for the first three matches of the Youth ODI series which starts at Colts Ground on Sunday.

While Richmondite Charith Asalanka will lead the team, St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa batsman Avishka Fernando will be his deputy.

The series will include five Youth ODIs and two three-day matches.

While Bangladesh field players who are eligible to play next year’s Youth World Cup (in Bangladesh), hosts team include four players who are not eligible to play the Under-19 World Cup.

Meanwhile, Bernardus said that Sri Lanka Under-19s will meet Pakistan, India, England and Bangladesh Under-19s either in home or away series before the Youth World Cup in Bangladesh

Team: Charith Asalanka (Captain – Richmond), Avishka Fernando (V. Capt. - St. Sebastian’s Moratuwa), Lasith Lakshan (St. Thomas’- Matara), Kaveen Bandara (DSS), Sahan Arachchige (Ananda), Vishad Randika (Isipatana), Wanidu Hasaranga (Richmond), Chamika Karunaratne (Royal), Damith Silva (Maliyadeva), Nushan Weerasinghe (Trinity), Asitha Fernando (St. Sebastian’s, Katuneriya), Lahiru Kumara (Trinity), Kehan Wijeratne (Maliyadewa), Nishan Peiris (St. Peter’s Negombo), Pasindu Isira (Air Force, former Ananda), Shammu Ashan (Ananda) and Duvindu Tillakaratne (Trinity).

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