Jayasuriya promises fair selection
Sri Lanka's new chairman of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya has highlighted the value of senior players in the Test side, after weeks of rumours suggested Mahela Jayawardene may be cut from the team after his public spat with the selectors last month.
Other rumours also suggested Kumar Sangakkara's place was in doubt, as he was captain when Jayasuriya was dropped from the limited overs sides, but Jayasuriya said he did not bring any prejudices to his new role, and that selections will be made objectively.
Jayawardene had expressed his dismay at seeing a confidential letter to SLC in the papers in December, when he wrote to news outlets to clarify the letter's context and stated he had "lost all confidence in dealing with SLC" as a result of the leak. SLC then issued a statement saying Jayawardene's comments would be reviewed by the executive committee, but no concrete disciplinary action has been taken, over a month later.
Jayasuriya reiterated that his panel would not be waylaid by past disagreements or politics, and would instead endeavour only to improve cricket in Sri Lanka.
"I've already said that we need the senior cricketers in the set up," he said. "Without senior players, it's very difficult for the youngsters to go forward. As a selection panel, we haven't had discussions yet, but the seniors have a role to play.
"We haven't been appointed to cut Mahela or Sangakkara from the team, we're here to make good selections. It's good to introduce one or two youngsters in the team, but you can't make big changes at once. We will work step-by-step with the seniors."
Jayasuriya also laid out a rough strategy for his panel, two of whom will be employed as full-time selectors, and said there would be a greater drive to unearth talent from Sri Lanka's club system. Hashan Tillakaratne and Pramodya Wickramasinghe have been given the full-time roles.
"What we expect from the full time selectors is that they play close attention to every match, with specific objectives in mind. Maybe one of them will focus on Under-19 cricket and the A team, and the other will work closely with the national team and be there at training. The remaining members will also have specific roles, and we will be watching club cricket and will be informed about under-19 cricket as well."
Jayasuriya said he may also send a letter to each of the clubs asking them to select their six best players, who will then travel to Colombo for a two-day training camp which the selectors will oversee.
"There might be cricketers in those clubs that are good enough to play for Sri Lanka, but they have been missed. If we have a two-day period when we can observe them, we will have a good idea of who the talented players are. We can even form a database, and if someone starts doing well at club level, we already have an idea of how good they are."
One of the new panel's first tasks will be to name a new Test and ODI captain after Jayawardene stepped down from the post during the tour of Australia, but Jayasuriya would not be drawn on whether he favoured a split captaincy, nor would he name potential candidates for the job.
"There are a few names, but we haven't discussed anything yet, and we haven't talked about any captaincy issues. There has been a lot of media speculation about what we have been discussing or who we will appoint, but there's nothing like that. That's a decision that needs to be thought out carefully and discussed a lot."
The new panel officially takes over on February 1, and will be charged first with naming a Test side for the upcoming Bangladesh tour of Sri Lanka which begins on March 9.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here