In a surprise move nine days from the start of Sri Lanka's World T20 campaign, the country's sports minister Dayasiri Jayasekara has appointed a new set of selectors headed by Aravinda de Silva, relieving the previous selection panel ahead of time.
Kumar Sangakkara and Romesh Kaluwitharana are the other major names in the new five-member panel, which also includes former Sri Lanka offspinners Ranjith Madurasinghe and Lalith Kaluperuma. Jayasekara said this new selection committee's term would end on April 30.*
"The appointment of the national selection committee was carried out by the sports minister, citing recent failures encountered by the national team in their tours to New Zealand, India, Asia Cup in Bangladesh and the inconsistency of selection criteria," an SLC release said.
The installment of a new selection panel is effectively an emergency, short-term measure, stemming from the board's dissatisfaction with the World T20 selections put forward by the previous committee. The de Silva-led committee has now made changes to that World T20 squad, and have announced them on the very day the team is due to depart to India.
The move also follows a brief period of friction between SLC and the previous selection committee, which was headed by Kapila Wijegunawardene. The selectors had felt marginalised by the board, and were also concerned they did not have sufficient say over the XIs that were picked in recent series.
De Silva, though, has led selection committees in previous years, and had chosen the Sri Lanka squad ahead of and during the 2011 World Cup, when Sangakkara was captain. Kaluwitharana has been one of Sri Lanka's top coaches over the past decade - most recently in charge of the Sri Lanka A side.
Sangakkara's presence in the committee comes as something of a surprise, as only seven months have passed since his international retirement. He also still plays in domestic leagues around the world, including in England, where he is set to appear for Surrey in this year's county season. He said he only agreed to take up the role because it was a short-term position, and because he felt the circumstances were exceptional. "Usually, someone should spend at least two years out of the team, before taking up a position like this," he said.
Kaluperuma had played Sri Lanka's debut Test in 1982, before making one more Test appearance. Madurasinghe played in three Tests between 1988 and 1992.
*The duration of the selection committee's term was updated following the release of that information