Sanath Jayasuriya has been appointed chairman of selectors by sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, and the number of selectors increased to five, Sri Lanka's sports ministry confirmed on Monday. Jayasuriya is a member of parliament for the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance, of which Aluthgamage is also a member. He was a late addition to the list of nominees sent to the minister by Sri Lanka cricket, and will begin his tenure on February 1, 19 months after his last appearance for Sri Lanka.
Former fast bowlers Pramodya Wickramasinghe and Eric Upashantha were also appointed to the panel, as well as former batsmen Chaminda Mendis and Hemantha Wickramaratne, who is the only selector to receive a second consecutive term, having also served in the last panel under Ashantha de Mel.
The panel was also appointed for an indefinite period, a change from previous years, where Sri Lanka had new panels every 12 months. "Under the sports law, it's the minister's prerogative to hand down a term for the selectors, but he hasn't done that this time," a spokesperson for the sports ministry told ESPNcricinfo. "If the selectors are doing a good job, they can continue."
Two of the five members are also likely to become full time SLC employees, also a change from previous years, when all three selectors were unpaid. SLC will meet with the new panel on Tuesday to discuss which of them will come on board as paid staff.
Jayasuriya played 110 Tests for Sri Lanka and was captain in both formats from 1999 to 2003. In 2008, he regained his place in the Sri Lanka squad only after the then-sports minister intervened.
Jayasuriya's appointment mires SLC further in the nation's politics, months after the board had said it would endeavour to remove the political influence in Sri Lanka's cricket. Haroon Lorgat's review of SLC recommended that the sports law be amended so that the minister is no longer involved in selection, and although the board said the minister had been receptive to the idea of an amendment, there have not yet been any moves to remove him from the selection process. Under current law, the minister approves each selection made by the panel in addition to appointing the selectors.
Among the panel's first tasks will be to choose a new captain for Tests and ODIs, following Mahela Jayawardene's resignation. Twenty20 captain Angelo Mathews is tipped to take the reins in ODIs, but may not receive the Test captaincy, after the minister said he would prefer to have two separate captains.