Sri Lanka news May 31, 2010

Aravinda de Silva targets World Cup glory

Aravinda de Silva, Sri Lanka's former captain and newly-appointed chairman of selectors, has singled out winning the World Cup in 2011 as his "primary responsibility" in his latest role. de Silva, who scored an unbeaten century to take Sri Lanka to their only World Cup win, in 1996 against Australia in Lahore, said the national team had to win some major tournaments in its preparation for the ultimate prize, admitted it needed improvement at the top of the order and defended the 40-year-old Sanath Jayasuriya, who had a forgettable World Twenty20.

"My primary aim is to help Sri Lanka win another World Cup," de Silva told reporters in Colombo. "I've wanted another team to win a World Cup so that the people of Sri Lanka have something to talk about."

The other members of the committee are Ranjit Fernando, Amal Silva and Shabbir Asgerally. All four members have served in the capacity as selectors in previous committees.

While acknowledging the need for the selectors to get the right combination ready for the World Cup, de Silva said a significant share of the responsibility had to come from the players. "A player must have the experience of having played in at least a minimum of 50 ODIs to be able to handle difficult situations when it comes to a World Cup," he said. "We've got only nine months and to give a new player that amount of exposure is not adequate. We need to have some players with a mixture of experience and youth who can handle difficult situations. That's our plan going forward to build up that combination.

"For me this bunch of cricketers has talent and ability, we just need to put a few things right and win some major tournaments. To do that, a big part of the commitment and responsibility must come from the players."

While spelling out the areas Sri Lanka need to improve ahead of the World Cup, de Silva said: "The top of the batting order is a matter of concern. What we've realized is if the two openers fail we need someone to come and consolidate the innings. In a situation like that when we are looking around for options and if you can't find suitable replacements then we are not prepared."

There has been plenty of criticism surrounding Jayasuriya's performances in the recent past, with many calling on him to quit. de Silva, however, said Sri Lanka had to consider all options for the World Cup. "We know what Jayasuriya is capable of. We must have a proper replacement for every position. We have nine months to prepare for the World Cup and we have not discarded anyone so far and decided on the positions they should play.

"You have to be fair to Sanath. He's shown what he is capable of and he has performed over the years and done so much for the country. We should respect that. It's fair that we look at every player the same way whether it is the youngest player or the most senior player. Anyone who gets out of hand which will affect the team, that is where when we will step in."

de Silva added the sports minister had given the selection committee an assurance that there won't be any interference. "If he has any queries and if the people are questioning I am quite willing to listen to that and give them an opportunity and explain for what reasons we have taken certain decisions," de Silva said.

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