Sri Lanka’s cricket selectors resigned en masse on Tuesday, days after fans hurled abuse and projectiles at the beleaguered national side as they suffered another humiliating thrashing on home soil.
The five selectors, led by former skipper Sanath Jayasuriya, handed a joint letter of resignation to Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, a ministry official told AFP.
The announcement comes midway through India’s five-match one-day international tour in Sri Lanka, a series the hosts conceded Sunday with a third straight loss.
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Fans, tired of thumping losses, leadership changes and mismanagement, booed the home side and lobbed bottles as they approached inevitable defeat at Pallekele.
Play was held up for about half an hour, after which India recorded a six-wicket win.
“The selection panel felt they should step down, allowing the board to appoint a fresh set of selectors in view of the criticism and the crowd reaction on Sunday,” a source close to Jayasuriya told AFP.
The ODI series loss came hard on the heels of India’s three-Test series whitewash over Sri Lanka on home soil.
Selectors have borne a fair share of recent criticism, with Sri Lanka’s World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga accusing the panel of lacking “backbone”.
The latest losses only compounded the misery for the national side, which suffered a humiliating ODI home series defeat against bottom-ranked Zimbabwe and bowed out early from the Champions Trophy in England.
They have also been beset by injury, with batsman Dinesh Chandimal ruled out of the remaining ODIs with a thumb injury and Chamara Kapugedara also likely to miss the matches.
Sri Lanka will play the remaining two ODI matches against India this Thursday and Sunday, and a one-off Twenty20 match against the visitors on September 6.
In a move which could set a precedent for the future, pacer Mitchell McClenaghan has been released from his central contract with New Zealand Cricket (NZC) in light of the former’s wish to make the most of his opportunities in T20 cricket leagues around the globe.
The 31-year-old, who has played 48 ODIs and 28 T20Is for his country, had recently been picked by Durban Qalanders in the player draft for Cricket South Africa’s inaugural T20 Global League on Sunday.
The left-armer had submitted a request to NZC asking for the termination of his contract so that he could take part in the T20 Global League in November as well as the Big Bash League (BBL) December onwards.
In a press release by NZC, the pacer is quoted as saying: “Some new playing opportunities have arisen in the past few weeks which mean my circumstances have changed. I’m very grateful for the respect, understanding and goodwill which has underpinned my request to be released from my NZC contract.
“I’ve worked closely with NZC throughout the process, while also making it clear I still harbour ambitions of playing for New Zealand in the future,” he added.
McClenaghan will still remain available for selection for the Black Caps in the future whenever available. This move however, is a testament to the financial pull of the ever-growing franchisee based T20 leagues around the world.
The pacer has become a T20 specialist of late with his involvement in the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and the Natwest T20 blast in England. With the addition of the Global T20 League and the BBL in McClenaghan’s calendar it does seem a wise move on the part of the 31-year-old to concentrate on the shortest-format.
As T20 leagues continue to grow all over the world, it does lead to the question if franchisee cricket could overtake national commitments for players in the future. The monetary packages on offer in the various leagues might make it worthwhile for a lot many fringe players in the various national setups to secure their financial independence.
With Pakistan and Bangladesh having leagues of their own, South Africa’s latest foray in the world of franchisee cricket adds to the already well established and flourishing versions from India, Australia, England and the West Indies.
One can find a league in almost every Test playing nation these days and there will be no dearth of options for the limited-overs specialists around the world.
The less gruelling schedules along with the reduced workload which come with T20 cricket could also play a part in enticing more players like McClenaghan to choose club over country.
It remains to be seen if such a shift in players thinking could come about in the near future, but it is surely worth keeping an eye out for in the next couple of years or so.
No one can blame McClenaghan for making the best of the opportunities available to him as he enters the tail-end of his career without having played a single Test for New Zealand.
Chris Gayle himself has become a globe-trotting T20 specialist for the last three years before his most recent recall to the West Indies limited-overs squad for the England ODIs.
McClenaghan is not the first cricketer to choose franchisee cricket as his primary source of income and he definitely won’t be the last.
Australia reached 109-2 at stumps on the third day of the first Test after being set a victory target of 265 against Bangladesh on Tuesday.
David Warner made an unbeaten 75 after Nathan Lyon’s 6-82 helped Australia dismiss Bangladesh for 221 in their second innings at Dhaka’s Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
The visitors still need 156 runs on a difficult pitch with skipper Steve Smith, 25 not out, accompanying Warner at the crease overnight.