Lanka de Silva, the former Sri Lanka wicketkeeper-batsman who became only the tenth player in his country's history to pass 10,000 runs in first-class cricket, has said Sri Lankan cricket will not improve unless it breaks free of politics.
de Silva has been on the domestic circuit for nearly two decades, which leaves him well-placed to assess what ails Sri Lankan cricket. "There are a number of players who continue to be ignored by the national selectors even for A teams despite performing consistently in domestic cricket," he said. "A majority of them have decided that they have no future playing for the national side and signed up with clubs in the English leagues to earn a living.
|There are a number of players who continue to be ignored by the national selectors even for A teams despite performing consistently in domestic cricket. A majority of them have decided that they have no future playing for the national side and signed up with clubs in the English leagues to earn a living|
"What is happening now in our domestic cricket is that these players are only interested in playing five first-class matches for their clubs which qualifies them to play in the leagues. Once that objective has been achieved they are no longer interested in giving 100% to their clubs. This is leading to a deterioration of our domestic cricket standards," de Silva said. "Our cricket will never improve until we get rid of the politics that is continuing to ruin it."
Having made his first-class debut for Kurunegala Youth CC in 1991-92, de Silva has consistently been among the runs in domestic cricket for the past 17 years. He reached the 10,000-run mark in Tamil Union's first Premier league match of the season against Ragama CC at the Saravanamuttu Stadium.
de Silva played three Tests in his career, all on the tour to India in 1997-98 when he replaced Romesh Kaluwitharana briefly as the team's first-choice wicketkeeper. He was floored by a bouncer from former Indian fast bowler Javagal Srinath in the third Test and was out of favour before recovering from the injury.
"For the next ten years I tried hard to regain my place in the Sri Lankan side with consistent performances in domestic cricket, but the selectors continued to ignore me." In those years de Silva constantly topped 500 runs in Sri Lanka's domestic season and finished in the top ten of the batting averages.
Frustrated by the continuous shunning by the national selectors de Silva said that from last season he took a decision to divide his time between league cricket in England and domestic cricket in Sri Lanka. He played for the Potters Bar in the Home Counties league in 2008 and will continue to do so till he decides to eventually quit. "I think I have another five seasons of cricket ahead of me."