June 2, 2000

Arjuna Ranatunga set to make history as Sri Lanka squad is announced

Former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga has been included in the 26-man squad for the forthcoming test series against Pakistan and looks set to make history.

If he has fully recovered from the multiple fracture of the thumb that he sustained on the Pakistan tour he could make history as the only person to appear in Sri Lanka's inaugural and 100th test match, which is to be staged at the Sinhalese Sports Club on 14th June.

Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda De Silva came under sustained pressure for their places after the disappointment of the 1999 World Cup. However their recent test match record clearly illustrates their value to the Sri Lankan side.

In their last 15 test match innings Ranatunga (Av.38) and De Silva (Av.68) both average more than any other in the team. Not only do the statistics support the fact that Sri Lankan cricket needs it's two veterans, they show that all is not well at the top of the order.

Sanath Jayasuriya has an average of just 19, Marvan Attapattu continues to perform below potential with 30, Russel Arnold has yet to make the transition to test match cricket with 34. Mahela Jawardena's poor concentration leaves him with just 28, and Kaluwitharana has not scored a fifty in his last 15 innings and is averaging an unacceptable 16.

A team composed of batsmen averaging in their low/mid-thirties will never achieve their stated aim of being the best side in the world.

Young Kaushalya Weereratne, who performed so well yesterday in the Asia Cup, has also been included in squad, as have a number of others from the recent A series against Zimbabwe: Avishka Gunawardena (opening batsmen), Kumar Sangakkara (top order batsmen and wicket-keeper), Dilhara Ferando (right arm fast bowler), Dinuka Hetterachchi (left arm orthodox), Prasanna Jayawardena (wicket-keeper), Ruchira Perera (left arm fast bowler), Suresh Perera (medium/fast bowler) and Indika Gallage (fast bowler).

Perhaps the most interesting selection of the team is Kumar Sangakkara. With Kaluwitharana not fulfilling his batting potential the selectors are looking closely at their other options. Sangakkara's glove work may not quite match Prassana Jayawardena's but his batting is far superior and he has a chance of playing in the forthcoming series..

The other bone of contention will be Muralitharan's partner. Rangana Herath is not the threat that he was when the Australians last toured and the selectors are likely to pick Dinuk Hettarachchi, who looked the most penetrative Sri Lanka spinner in the recent `A' series against Zimbabwe.

The 26 man squad in full:

Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda De Silva, Mahela Jayawardena, Russel Arnold, Chaminda Vaas, Mutiah Muralitharan, Upul Chandana, Marvan Attapattu, T.M. Dilshan, Indika De Saram, Kaushalya Weereratne, Nuwan Zoysa, Sajeeva De Silva, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Arjuna Ranatunga, Chamara Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Avishka Gunawardena, Prasana Jayawardena, Suresh Perera, Ruchira Perera, Rangana Herath, Dinuka Hetterachchi, Dilhara Fernando, Ravindra Pushpakumara, Indika Gallage.