- Chandimal to lead T20 team with Malinga as deputy
By David Ebert
Angelo Mathews was named the new Sri Lanka Test and ODI captain with young all-rounder Dinesh Chandimal named as his deputy ahead of the Bangladesh tour of Sri Lanka next month. He succeeds Mahela Jayawardena who resigned at the end of the recent Australia tour, having held the position for a one year interim period.
|From left: SLC CEO Ajit Jayasekara, Test and ODI Captain Angelo Mathews, SLC Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, Chairman of Selectors Sanath Jayasuriya and T20 Captain and Test and ODI Vice Captain Dinesh Chandimal – Pic by Lasantha Kumara
Chandimal was also named the new T20 skipper with Lasith Malinga as his deputy. The selectors named a 20-member squad ahead of next month’s tour, which promised more young talent with a host of new faces included.
Speaking at the press conference to announce the changes, Chairman of Selectors Jayasuriya expressed confidence in the new captain’s ability to handle the pressures of the position at a time when the country badly needs to climb up the Test rankings: “The selectors including myself as the chairman have picked the captains for the upcoming series and also for the coming year. We have decided on Angelo Mathews as the Test and ODI captain and the vice captain will be Dinesh Chandimal. For the T20, we have decided to have Dinesh Chandimal as the captain and his deputy will be Lasith Malinga.”
“We know that Mathews is an experienced player and he’s been there for us when things were going tough as the vice captain. He’s played test, ODI and T20 cricket so far and we know he has the ability and the strength to captain Sri Lanka and I believe he will handle the pressure well.”
“We chose Chandimal because he’s a young quality player who has a long future ahead of him and I feel that this is the combination that will be best for Sri Lanka Cricket in the future.”
Jayasuriya went on to add that the reason the selectors decided to split the Test, ODI and T20 captaincies was in order to allow Mathews the room to concentrate on Test and ODI success while giving Chandimal the experience needed to possibly fill in for him in the case of injury.
Speaking on his ambition in the new role, Mathews’ focus remained more on improving the team’s Test and ODI rankings: “My main ambition now is to take Sri Lanka cricket into the top three rankings in the world within the next few years because we have dropped down to sixth in the Test rankings and also fifth in the ODI, so I’d like to see the team in the top three over the next few years.”
Questioned as to the reason for the large presence of youth in the new 20-member squad for the upcoming tour, Chairman of Selectors Jayasuriya stated that the final 15 haven’t as yet been decided on and the opportunity has been provided for inexperienced young cricketers to get a feel of playing and practicing with the seniors, which he felt would provide impetus for better performance and competition.
Six new faces were named in the 20-member squad for the two-Test series against Bangladesh starting on 8 March at Galle.
The new selection committee, headed by former captain Jayasuriya, named uncapped batsmen Ashen Silva and Kithruwan Vithanage, along with seamer Dushmantha Chameera, off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal, wicket-keeper Kushal Perera and leg-spinning all-rounder Jeevan Mendis.
Perera and Mendis are the only two out the lot to have played one-day cricket for the country so far.
Their inclusion came at the expense of Australian tour performers Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana, who were joined on the sidelines by Prasanna Jayawardene, Suranga Lakmal and Dhammika Prasad.
Former captain Kumar Sangakkara was retained in the squad, subject to his recovery from a hand injury which he sustained in Australia.
Bangladesh will also play three one-day internationals and a one-off Twenty20 international in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka test squad: Angelo Mathews (captain), Dinesh Chandimal (vice captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dimuth Karunaratne, Ashen Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Lahiru Thirimanne, Mahela Jayawardene, Kushal Perera, Jeevan Mendis, Kithruwan Vithanage, Ajantha Mendis, Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Kulasekara, Shaminda Eranga, Chanaka Welegedera, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Rangana Herath, Tharindu Kaushal.