Marvan Atapattu interview October 7, 2007

I have no respect for the selectors - Atapattu

Marvan Atapattu talks about his current exile from the national team and says he has lost his respect for the national selectors

Marvan Atapattu: "The squads are picked by the chief selector and his committee on a subjective basis with which I do not agree" © AFP

The controversy surrounding former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu continues with neither Sri Lanka Cricket nor the sports minister being able to convince the national selection committee that a player of Atapattu's calibre and experience is vital in the side.

For more than a decade Atapattu has been Sri Lanka's most technically sound batsman and his record in both Tests and ODIs speaks for itself. With an important tour of Australia coming up a patch-up was attempted - Sri Lanka Cricket called the selectors and Atapattu for a meeting. But Atapattu didn't turn up and instead sent a letter saying he had no faith in the selection committee headed by Ashantha de Mel.

Atapattu admits that he is prepared to meet a selection panel as long as it is not headed by de Mel. He also said he has lost all respect for the current panel, one that comprises de Mel, Don Anurasiri, Ranjith Madurasinghe and Jayantha Seneviratne.

What made you turn down an offer to play for your country when the selectors called you for a meeting to sort things out?
If you are referring to the Test series in Australia due in November, I did not receive any offer to play for the country. I was called for a discussion by the CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket and not by the selectors. The discussion, however, was to be with the selectors.

Can you explain what you actually told (or wrote to) the selectors, as the reason why you did not want to meet them?
I did not have any communication with the selectors either verbally or in writing. I notified the convenor of the discussion [the chief executive] that, consequent to the despicable manner in which I was treated in the recent past by the chief selector and the members of the national selection committee, I neither have trust nor faith in the present national selection committee, which too is headed by the same chief selector. I also informed him that in the circumstances it was my considered view that having any discussions with these selectors will be an absolute waste of time and a fruitless exercise. I also expressed my sincere gratitude to the chairman of the Interim Committee and the CEO for the decent and respectful manner in which I was treated by them during my association with them as a national player.

What is the problem that you have with the selector or selectors?
The squads are picked by the chief selector and his committee on a subjective basis with which I do not agree. I have no respect for them considering the distasteful manner in which they have treated me in the past eight months or so. This is the problem I have had with them since the issues arose from the 2007 World Cup.

In the early part of 2007 I was distressed and depressed by the treatment given to me by the selectors. This was a traumatic experience

You were selected to play in the series against Bangladesh and you said that you were not available due to personal reasons. However you then went and played for Lashings. What do you say to that?
I was selected in the squad for the Bangladesh series in June 2007. I declined to play not due to personal reasons. It was due to the fact that, at that stage, I had had no exposure to Test cricket for over a period of one-and-a-half years as the opportunities provided to me to play cricket at international level during this period were minimal. In the early part of 2007 I was distressed and depressed by the treatment given to me by the selectors. This was a traumatic experience. As I was not geared to perform to my maximum ability I declined to participate in the Bangladesh series. For continuity of cricket I signed a contract with Lashings for a period of three months with the approval of SLC.

By turning down the offers to play for Sri Lanka aren't you giving the selectors reasons not to pick you in the future?
The only offer I turned down so far was to play in the Bangladesh series and I have given the reasons for this to the SLC.

If there was a change of selectors would you reconsider meeting them?
Yes, as long as the selection panel is not led by the present chief selector.

Why do you think the selectors suddenly want you for the Australia tour?
They may have wanted me for my experience and past performance as a Test opener.

Would you say this is this worst experience of your career?
The worst period in my cricketing career has been the past seven months or so. I did not foresee this happening to me. These unpleasant events took me by surprise.

Your name has been linked to the rebel ICL, and then reports said that you were going to play for a province in South Africa.
It is too early to comment on these matters.

Have you given up hopes of representing your country again?