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Sri Lanka selectors resign after defeats to India

Lasith Malinga, Upul Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya at a training session AFP

The Sri Lanka selection committee, headed by Sanath Jayasuriya, has decided to resign following the recent sequence of poor results. As they had already picked the squads for the last two ODIs and the only T20 international of the India tour, they will remain in force in case any additions need to be made. The committee will step down once the tour concludes, two months after they had been given a six-month extension that would have taken them through until the end of the year.

"Sri Lanka Cricket chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, as well as committee members Ranjith Madurasinghe, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Asanka Gurusinha and Eric Upashantha, have decided to resign," Sri Lanka's sports ministry said. "A combined letter bearing the names of the above committee has conveyed this decision to sports minister Dayasiri Jayasekara. According to the letter, their tenure will end on September 7."

The announcement came two days after Sri Lanka lost the third ODI in Pallekele, and conceded the five-match series 3-0. They had also been beaten 3-0 in the Test series. Earlier in the year, there had been an unprecedented ODI series loss to Zimbabwe, an unprecedented Test loss to Bangladesh, a torrid tour of South Africa, and a disappointing Champions Trophy campaign.

The past few months have seen rapidly mounting pressure on Jayasuriya's committee to step down. Heavily criticised for making too many changes, having no clear vision, and failing to persist with talented players, the losses during the India tour had seen public perception of the committee sink to new lows. Jayasuriya has always been a hands-on chief selector, but there have also been suggestions from within the team that he repeatedly overstepped his bounds. It was not uncommon to see him advising players in the approach to, or during, games.

Jayasuriya had also recently publicly defended his committee, suggesting the volume of injuries Sri Lanka suffered over the past year had necessitated frequent changes to the XI. Since his committee was appointed in May last year, Sri Lanka fielded 51 international cricketers across formats, including 40 in ODIs alone.

This was also Jayasuriya's second stint as chief selector. Counting his first tenure, which ran for two years, he has had the job for three of the past four years.

Despite Sri Lanka's recent failures, however, the same selection committeee - sans Gurusinha, who was added in April - had also been in force when Sri Lanka whitewashed Australia in the Test series last year.

Gurusinha stated the selectors had little choice in the decision after the spate of poor results. "The reason for the selectors stepping down is pretty straightforward. The team was losing so much we had to take the responsibility," Gurusinha said. "We had no choice. We have to give a chance to a new lot. My case is a little different since I have only been a selector since April, but when the others are stepping down I can't stay there."

Sri Lanka's next international assignment will be the tour of the UAE and Pakistan, which is expected to begin in late September. A new set of selectors is likely to be named over the course of the next three weeks.