Sri Lanka v South Africa, 2nd Test, Colombo July 22, 2014

Niroshan Dickwella replaces Chandimal in Test squad


In a left-field selection move, uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella has been flown in from England to join the Sri Lanka squad ahead of the second Test against South Africa. Dickwella was on Sri Lanka A's ongoing tour of England, but he will now be available for the SSC Test, which begins on Thursday.

SLC had said on Tuesday that Dinesh Chandimal would be sent for the A team tour in England, and that he would be unavailable for selection for the second Test.* However on Wednesday, captain Angelo Mathews said Chandimal would remain with the team for the SSC Test, and that he was officially available for selection. Given Dickwella's inclusion, though, Chandimal is unlikely to play.

Chandimal has kept wicket in the last two Tests, after Prasanna Jayawardene sustained a broken finger, but while his keeping has been tidy, he has not produced consistent runs. He hit 45 off 55 balls in the first innings at Headingley, but has been out hooking in single figures in each of his three innings since. He has appeared shaky against the bouncer since Junaid Khan had him out hooking twice in the Test series in the UAE, in January.

His lack of form in the limited-overs formats will also have contributed to the selectors' decision. Chandimal dropped himself from the side during Sri Lanka's World T20 campaign, and was also left out of the squad for the recent one-dayers against South Africa.

Dickwella, 21, has been a rising star in domestic cricket, and had progressed directly to Premier League competition from school cricket. An attacking top-order batsman for Nondescripts Cricket Club, Dickwella has three first-class centuries and five fifties at an average of 34.45 in 35 innings. He had also been Sri Lanka's schoolboy cricketer of the year in 2012, when he led Trinity College to the national championship.

Dickwella had not impressed for the A team against England Lions in February and March, but did return to form in Sri Lanka's Premier League competition. He had put on a 170-run opening stand alongside Upul Tharanga in the final of that tournament, contributing 87 from 99 balls to that partnership.

Kaushal Silva is also a wicketkeeper, but the selectors are wary of giving him the gloves in Tests, because keeping may leave him fatigued when he opens the batting. Kumar Sangakkara can also keep, but he has not had the gloves regularly since 2006 for similar reasons.

Kithuruwan Vithanage, who is already in the squad, offers Sri Lanka another batting option if they decide to make further changes to the top seven . In addition to positive middle-order batting, Vithanage also offers part-time legspin, which may count in his favour if the SSC pitch is expected to take turn.

* - July 23, 2014, 0830 GMT - The story was updated with information that Chandimal would remain in Colombo

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 24, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    SL team selection committee was the main problem for the failure of one day series and first Test. It is good to see the eye opening for the 2nd test. SL do not required VC at present. Do not put unnecessary responsibilities for the young players. EX Chandimal and Threemana failure. There are enough seniors to take over absence of Mathew. SL need to find a good batting coach to bring up young players. These young players making the same mistakes and got out several times.

  • Dummy4 on July 24, 2014, 3:50 GMT

    I hope thirimanne is not playing today as he is not test class material. Vithanage should be playing instead.

  • Ishara on July 23, 2014, 18:29 GMT

    Allow chandi to bat N0 4 and drop mahela to No 5 or 6. Mahela had scored some runs recently but not anything massively significant to talk about. when did he last played a grate innings to change the course of the match or match savings innings like Sanga or Mathews?. we can only talk about his past glory that s all. Thirimanne is the worst , he bat higher in the order and scored nothing. Vice captaincy got in to his head too much and he also has a technical problem. guys look at his bat swing. it is not flowing freely. I don't know why SL young batsman got this type of technical problems.

  • priya p on July 23, 2014, 16:23 GMT

    people have very short memories and go back to averages, At test level players lose their place when they repeatedly get in to trouble with a particular ball. Nowadays news reaches fast and every bowler will get you, People like jayasuriya reinvented themselves. When he got out to cover point He got that nice pull invented. Upul got caught repeatedly in the slip cordon, That is why he was dropped, People like Dili never got out to a certain shot. Mahela lived with the just outside the off stump ball because when he scores he scores heavy. Jayasuriya was right to spread the captaincy duties between thiri chandi and angie, They wanted them to replace big three. but it didn't happen so it is good you take steps, These selectors watch matches, even though some people take wickets and score the selectors know how they might get trapped, Sri Lankas pathetic situation is very few players of late (after aravinda may be ) matured before 26 -27.

  • rock on July 23, 2014, 15:37 GMT

    The passenger thirimanne should be dropped immediately

  • bobby on July 23, 2014, 14:39 GMT

    Thirimanne is the first one to be dropped instead of chandi...he got more chances than chandi but thiri average was lower than chandis...and unfortunatley chandi batting order comes in slog overs where he has to go after bowlers and get caught...thats really bad decision...drop thiri first.

  • Sri on July 23, 2014, 14:30 GMT

    Sanath Jayasuriya is responsible for Chandimal's failure. He promoted Chandi as VC and captain for T20 to divide and rule. Same thing with Thiruma. Elevated soon as VC. Angelo had few years to learn the game and cement his place. Selfish people ruining the team.

  • Sinhhalaya on July 23, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    For all those folks who trot out stats of Chandimal; he scores at 128+ vs. Bang. He also has an average of 86 against the Aussies (2 inngs, 01 not out). He is yet to play against Ind, NZ and WI - home or away. His averages against Eng, Pak and SA are pretty ordinary. So his 44+ overall test average (not "nearly fifty") is somewhat illusory. His onside play is woeful and limited as has been pointed out on this site. So please get some perspective in criticizing the selection policy. @Erantha Perera: the old school ties do play a big part in selection. We all have our theories as to why some schools are more equal than others. Perhaps Sanath who defied all stereotypes is best placed to break that trend as he came from a school that is old and well-known but less famous for producing national cricketers. What would the protests be like if Angie, Dimuth, Thisara, Sadeera and Priyamal Perera all are named in the pool?

  • Dummy4 on July 23, 2014, 12:29 GMT

    If you have any sense of cricket , Chandimal and Lahiru should have been dropped and given youngsters an opportunity . You can't have passengers in an team , specially playing with the top test playing team. I do not undersatnd how Chandimall is performing at domestic level . It's very easy to get him out . Just a short ball , chest high will give and easy catch to square leg . What a cricketer , good for Sri lankan standards , he wouldn't have survived anywhere , highly irresponsible What matters is performance | performance| performance|

  • Andrew on July 23, 2014, 12:24 GMT

    @Erantha Perera: What you are saying is right... Look at Upul Tharanga, he had scored SIX Centuries in ODIs @ the age of 21 yrs... which is a World Record & a better performer than Thendulkar, Ponting, Lara etc..! He had also displayed his ability to play long innings by creating another World Record for Highest number (7) of Long Partnerships (200+) in ODis! Yet, he had been given just 15 Tests, up to the current appearance... despite all the above and topping 5000 runs in ODIs as the YOUNGEST & 2nd Quickest SL player to do so!

    Tharanga is another typical example for what you are saying. The way they are persisting with some repeated failures today, imagine if Tharanga was given more opportunities to appear in TESTS earlier, today we could have seen another well established test player in Sanga's class, with many Test Hundreds (as he did in ODIs).! I'm glad at-least now SLC thought about it & brought him back. After all still Tharanga is 29 yrs & he has many more productive years!