Sri Lanka news October 11, 2013

Who will replace Dilshan?

ESPNcricinfo picks out the five most likely candidates to replace the retiring Tillakaratne Dilshan in Tests

In a year in which regeneration has already been Sri Lanka's focus, Tillakaratne Dilshan's Test retirement clears the way for yet another young batsman to try his hand at the top level. Sri Lanka begin a sequence of 10 away Tests in December, and Dilshan's timely exit will allow his replacement the opportunity to cut his teeth against Pakistan and Bangladesh, before the team travels to the UK in the next English summer.

The Test opening position has been a source of some consternation for Sri Lanka in recent years, however, and even Dimuth Karunaratne, who occupies the other opening spot, is yet to turn his potential into sustained results. There are several contenders for Dilshan's place in the domestic sphere, but given the current selection panel's track record of replacing the old with the young and promising, ESPNcricinfo has picked out the five likeliest candidates.

Kaushal Silva
(27-years-old, 8423 first-class runs at 48.97, 27 centuries)

The current frontrunner is not an opener by trade, but Sri Lanka has manufactured top-order men out of middle-order performers before, and selectors sent out a hint that they are already thinking of Kaushal in that role when they asked him to open for the Board XI in the first four-day match of the 2013-14 season. What Kaushal has going for him is extraordinary domestic form. He was the top-scorer in the first-class competition last year, and has been unstoppable for Sri Lanka A since then, hitting four hundreds in as many first-class matches to average 80.33 for the year. He is the oldest of the candidates, and having been consistent over several first-class seasons, he is also the most stable choice.

Kusal Perera
(23-years-old, 2460 first-class runs at 47.30, 7 centuries)

Something of a wildcard, but if there was any selector to whom the prospect of pairing two aggressive left-handers at the top of the order seemed tempting, it is Sanath Jayasuriya. There is no doubting the enormous talent that Kusal possesses, but although he took international limited-overs cricket by storm in the first few months of 2013, his weaknesses were soon worked out and he had a paltry run through the middle of the year. He is coming into form again in first-class cricket however, and has proven he can play the big innings in long-form cricket as well, when he hit Sri Lanka's first-ever domestic triple hundred earlier this year.

Shehan Jayasuriya
(22-years-old, 1423 first-class runs, 3 centuries)

Yet another bruising left-handed batsman, but although he doesn't have the weight of runs some of the other candidates have accumulated, he possesses a valuable second suit. In addition to creating huge domestic buzz with his batting, Jayasuriya bowls canny offspin, having taken 41 wickets at an average of less than 30 apiece - making him something of a like-for-like replacement for Dilshan. He is unlikely to be on the selectors' minds when they choose the squads for tours of the UAE or Bangladesh, but if Jayasuriya can improve on an already formidable first-class record in the Premier League Tournament next year, he will put significant pressure on the incumbents.

Lahiru Thirimanne
(24-years-old, 3668 first-class runs at 41.21, 10 centuries)

Thirimanne began his Test career as an opener before being moved to the middle order, but if Sri Lanka cannot unearth a consistent opening batsman in the next few months, the selectors may ask him to reclaim his old spot. Possessed of a thoughtful approach to the game, he is being groomed to inherit Kumar Sangakkara's No. 3 spot, but a tight defensive technique and calmness under fire could make him a good opening foil for Karunaratne as well.

Udara Jayasundera
(22-years-old, 2241 runs at 40.74, 4 centuries)

Jayasundera is perhaps the furthest from a Test spot at present, but Sanath Jayasuriya has repeatedly talked about him as a future prospect, and he also has the potential to put significant pressure on whoever replaces Dilshan in the short term. Another left-hander, but one who is not as well-geared for attack, Jayasundera has played for Sri Lanka's Under-19s team and scored heavily for the Under-23s side as well.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    Stats speak for themselves.. Kaushal should be given an extended run. He's got the best technique, the most experience and he is the most consistent.. 8000+ runs and 27 centuries..

  • prasad on October 18, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    U all forgot para is still in the seen he will replace Dilshan and cement the opening spot with Dilshan in test cricket..

  • Ajith on October 18, 2013, 1:56 GMT

    Dilshan another stalwart of Sri Lanka Cricket bids goodbye due to the lack of test cricket. He follows Thilan Samaraweera who bade goodbye a couple of months ago. The cancelling of the South African tour followed by the Zimbabwe tour probably motivated these players to quit. Sri Lanka Cricket authorities must take the blame for these failures and trying to replace these matches with domestic 20/20 tournaments which never got off the ground this year. These two players have contributed heavily towards the development of Sri Lanka cricket in the past few years and should be lauded for their efforts. As for their replacements we will have to wait and see as to who can fill these big boots in the future.

  • Kumara on October 17, 2013, 20:29 GMT

    @KANCHANA623 It's an insult to Jayasuriya that ur comparing him with a slogger with 2/3 shots (I'm still a fan of Thisara in LOIs). Jayasuriya was a genuine batsman from his school days. He already had couple of 1st class double hundreds under his belt before came into the national team. He had to bat in the lower-middle order purely because there was no vacant spots in the middle order. But still Jayasuriya wasn't "one of the most successful openers in the world" in test cricket.

    We'll see if the new SL batting unit is good enough to win test matches only if we find a test quality bowling attack. Until then there is nothing u can do by tinkering with the batting order. Just give the chance to the guys who have done well in 1st class level.

  • Janith on October 16, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    Guys i have to tell this, users like Gnanzupid, Jadejafan, Slslider, are Pakistani's pretend to show as Indians.

  • Kanchana on October 16, 2013, 0:17 GMT

    @ Ruwan, Thissara is still new to the international arena. He's got age, talent and templement to with stand any situation. Sanath was a dasher than Thissara in lower order. How ever he ended up his career as one of the most successful openers in the world. Then y do u think Thissara can't? If we are to win more tests we have to think a little out of the box. Traditional slow openers cannot win test matches in modern days.

  • Kumara on October 15, 2013, 17:56 GMT

    @KANCHANA623 Are u serious? Thisara P not comfortable against 140kph+ bowlers even with the old ball. And you are suggesting him to open against the new ball in test? I thought it's only the SLC administrators who have no clue about test cricket. Oh well...

  • Dummy4 on October 15, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    I think you need a right handed batsmen to take Dilshan's role. Many quickies line up left hander sfar too easily now. I like both Dimuth & Kusal. But SL se;ection will miss a trick here unless they recall Kapugedera. He is good against quick bowling.

  • Dummy4 on October 15, 2013, 6:10 GMT

    I don't think Thirimanna will promoted as a opener. He is the batsman to fill the vacant space of Mahela & Sanga. So most probably it will be Kaushal & Kusal as a long term replacements. Since both of them still in 20s they got lot of time to cement their places.

  • Kanchana on October 14, 2013, 23:51 GMT

    Thissara Perera too is not a bad choice. Like Sanath and Watson he too can be promoted from no 7 to opening spot. Anyways in text cricket agressive openers can be a big factor in winning more test matches.