Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Brisbane, 3rd day

'Selectors are muppets headed by a joker' - Atapattu

Sa'adi Thawfeeq at the Gabba

November 10, 2007

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Marvan Atapattu: "We don't have problems inside the dressing room but people from outside are trying to create unpleasantness through the media." © Getty Images
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Marvan Atapattu launched an astonishing attack on the Sri Lanka selectors, calling them a set of muppets headed by a joker and blaming them for the lack of bench strength in the side. His statements came at the end of the third day of the first Test against Australia at the Gabba, with Sri Lanka fighting to stave off a heavy defeat.

"Sri Lanka cricket at this moment of time is not going in the direction it should be going, especially with a set of muppets headed by a joker," Atapattu said at the end-of-day press conference. "I don't give credit to the way they have handled selections.

"If they had handled selections properly we should have a good back-up team. For some reason we don't and at the age of 37-38 people have to come and play for Sri Lanka when it comes to tough tours like this. If selectors are there only for going on tours and getting perks it is a waste of time."

Atapattu had not been originally chosen for the tour and was only included after a request made by Sri Lanka's sports minister Gamini Lokuge. Sri Lanka's national selection committee comprises the chairman Ashantha de Mel along with Don Anurasiri, Ranjith Madurasinghe and Jayantha Seneviratne.

Atapattu is returning to Test cricket after nearly two years and international cricket after a dramatic six months, in which he spent the entire World Cup on the bench and then declined to play in a series against Bangaldesh. He top scored for Sri Lanka with a patient 51 in the first innings and stitched a 53-run opening partnership with Sanath Jayasuriya in the second after Sri Lanka were forced to follow on.

Atapattu also said people were trying to create an impression of disunity within the team. "We are a happy dressing room at the moment. A section of people has been trying to say that it is divided, but it is not so. We don't have problems inside the dressing room but people from outside are trying to create unpleasantness through the media and by statements made by ex-cricketers to displease us. I don't think they have succeeded," Atapattu, who turns 37 on November 20, said.

Commenting on the day's play Atapattu said: "We didn't do justice to our talents and the potential we had in the dressing room in the first innings. We got some good balls early in the innings but that's not a good enough excuse. It is much easier batting in the second innings.

"There is only the variable bounce that you have to worry about . We should be able to get a good partnership or two going tomorrow and hopefully be in a better position." Atapattu said facing Brett Lee was always a challenge for any batsman. "I really enjoy facing him," he said. "Each delivery is a different challenge that you have to face."

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