Out-of-form Minister son in under-19 cricket squad



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by Reemus Fernando


The inclusion of out-of-form Royal College batsman Ramith Rambukwella in a 16-member Sri Lanka Under-19 squad for the Youth Series against England Under-19 has raised many an eye brow as his inclusion comes at the expense of St. Anthony’s, Katugastota opener Hiran Wickramasekara, who has been in-form in the current First XI season. Although Junior National Selectors tried to defend Rambukwella’s inclusion due to his experience, the Government Minister’s son and the excluded cricketer coming from the Minister’s area are worlds apart when their performances in the ongoing First XI Cricket seasons are compared.


Hiran Wickramasekara, who has scored over 1,000 runs in consecutive First XI seasons, is on his way to a third (1,000 runs). Wickramasekara has scored two centuries, an unbeaten 100 against Wesley and 150 against Kingswood while also adding scores over 50 against S. Thomas’ (Mount Lavinia) and Kalutara Vidyalaya in the ongoing First XI season.


Meanwhile, Rambukwella who is also an opening batsman playing in the ongoing First XI cricket season has 16 runs (against Richmond) as his highest score in five outings.


A selection source said that Wickramasekara had done better than his counterpart fighting for the opening slot in the trials.


Sunil Wickramayanake, the head of the Junior National Selection Committee said both the opening batsmen had failed in the trials but selectors were counting on his experience playing in England last season.


Rambukwella played three Youth ODIs, two Youth Tests and two Twenty 20 matches against England Under-19 during their tour (July-August) last year. Rambukwella’s performances in the series were three ODIs - 01, 68 and 16 runs, two T20s - 0, 36 and Two Youth Tests 10 & 01 and 34 & 31.


An analyst said that if both batsmen had failed in trials the selectors should have taken to account the performances of the batsman in the ongoing First XI season ‘rather than going back to England where Wickramasekara was not a part’. Selectors have repeatedly down-graded the country’s school tournaments.


Meanwhile, officials of various school teams were curious as to why Ramith Rambukwella was allowed to play in the Royal - St. Anthony’s (the match was washed off) match, while the other selected players were not allowed to play for their schools.


When inquired about this, team coach Naveed Nawaz said that the players whom the team management had thought needed match practice were allowed to play for their schools.


"The players whom the management thought needed more match practices before the series to get in to form were allowed to play for their schools. There were no hard and fast rules regarding playing for their schools," said Naveed. The coach also backed Rambukwella’s selection to the team on the grounds of his experience in England.


Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage (also an old Royalist) has given the approval for the 16 member squad.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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