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December 14, 2010
Despite including two former World Cup heroes - Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas - in the provisional 30-member squad for the tournament's 2011 edition, Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors Aravinda de Silva gave no indication that they would be in contention for a spot in the final 15.
"We felt that, in the 30 we need to have a combination of experience as well as youth," de Silva, also a member of the 1996 World Cup winning side, said. "We have mainly considered performances and also, to a certain extent, experience. Putting everything together that is what we ultimately came out with.
"You know what Vaas and Jayasuriya can do but you also have to consider the current form. We have seen the potential of some of the guys we have tried out. It is only if there is an absolute requirement or necessity that we need experience as well as good performances, will we look at them."
Vaas, 36, last played for Sri Lanka in August 2008 and the 41-year-old Jayasuriya's last one-dayer was in December 2009. de Silva hinted that the youngsters who have been a part of the set-up in recent times were likely to be prefered.
"At the moment if you take some of the fast bowlers who are doing pretty well we need to persevere with them," de Silva said. "We must also consider the fact that Vaas has not played one-day cricket for a little while. If you take Sanath into account, there are guys like Tharanga Paranavitana who we wanted to try. All this time we didn't include Jayasuriya in the team because we didn't have a requirement. That is why we went with the present team. We have a basic idea of about 10-11 players but there are a few places which we need to work out, and if we can get some cricket before the final selection it would be ideal."
de Silva also mentioned that unity would be essential to the team's cause, and that the selectors were guarded against allowing divisive influences to creep into the side's make-up. "If there is any antagonism or issue in the team of someone being included, who is going to create any sort of problems within the team, that will be the main reason for leaving them out of the squad," he said. "That sort of thing will be very hard to tolerate especially during the World Cup because you need unity if you want to succeed. We can't have any divisions within the team."
Sri Lanka's lead-up to the World Cup has been strong, with victories in the Dambulla tri-series and in Australia, but weather dealt a setback to the final plans, forcing a postponement to the home series against West Indies.
"Missing those five ODIs against West Indies was very crucial because we were really looking at finding an ultimate combination before picking the final 15," de Silva said. "There were things which we wanted to try in the five ODIs. It was very unfortunate we missed out on it, but nevertheless we have a basic idea of what we are looking for. There are a couple of things we would have loved to have tried out and made sure before the World Cup.
"If we are unable to get some international fixtures we'll have to take the risk and go with our gut feeling in selecting the final 15. That is why we are here to take certain decisions on the experience we've had and what we seen. My co-selectors and the team management are quite confident we will put out a strong squad."
de Silva underplayed the notion that Sri Lanka would lose the home advantage because they haven't been able to familiarise themselves with the three Sri Lankan venues for the World Cup - Hambantota, Pallakele and R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. "When I saw the wickets and how they played I didn't see much of a difference from the past," he said. "It is all a mental game. Even when you play at a familiar venue on that particular day the conditions can defer. As international cricketers, there is no excuse to say that you haven't had enough cricket on a particular ground or a wicket. It's unfortunate the West Indies series had to be postponed but they will have enough practice under lights at these three venues."
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