Sun, 03 Dec 2023

Colombo [Sri Lanka], January 29 (ANI): A little over four months after clinching the Asia Cup, the Sri Lankan team is on verge of a massive shake-up in the selection committee and its chief Pramodya Wickramasinghe is likely to be among the first ones to be ousted, reported ESPNCricinfo on Sunday.

Wickramasinghe is the head of the selection committee since April 2021 and oversaw a youth-driven overhaul of national white-ball squads, which saw seniors like Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne being omitted from it. Under his tenure, Sri Lanka appointed a less reactionary approach to the selection process.

Under the leadership of Mickey Arthur and then Chris Silverwood as head coach, the national side saw mixed success. They won the ODI series at home against South Africa and Australia and clinched their sixth Asia Cup title. But an underwhelming ICC T20 World Cup 2022 followed by heavy white-ball losses to India at the start of 2023 has put selectors back into scrutiny.

In May 2022, Roshan Ranasinghe succeeded Namal Rajapaksa, the nephew of then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the country's Sports Minister. Gotabaya was forced to resign from his post following wide-scale protests in his country amid a severe economic crisis, which also led to Namal's ouster from the Sports Minister post.

Among Ranasinghe's first acts as minister was the appointment of World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga to lead a 15-member National Sports Council (NSC). It was given the task of giving advice to the sports minister on sports-related issues of the country.

Ranatunga has been a vocal critic of the executive committee of Sri Lanka Cricket headed by Shammi Silva and he wasted no time in calling for the replacement of selectors following the sub-par performance in the T20 WC. It seems that SLC is inclined to agree with Wickramasinghe, but they cannot shift out the selectors. It is the duty of the National Sports Selection Committee (NSSC), which is appointed by the sports ministry.

In Sri Lanka, the sports law mandates that the national team selectors should be appointed by the sports minister and even their squad selection should have the approval of the ministry first prior to being ratified. In October 2022, the NSSC, a seven-member committee headed by SL's Chief of Defence Staff Staff General Shavendra Silva, which also included former chairman of selectors and legendary cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya, was appointed to give final approval to sports selections made across the country.

Earlier this month, SLC sent NSSC a set of 10 names, including Wickramasinghe's, from which they could pick the new selection committee. But NSSC was dissatisfied with the list and requested that an updated list be sent. The NSSC will be meeting on Monday to make a final decision. (ANI)

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