Angelo Mathews who was earlier sacked as captain has been dropped from the limited over team for the five-match ODI series against England over fitness concerns. Also missing from the squad is young Kusal Mendis who did not make a single run during the disastrous Asia Cup campaign.
“We saw that he has slowed down again and his match fitness was not up to mark,” said Graeme Labrooy, the head of the cricket selection committee. “He had an issue in taking quick singles and running too which transferred pressure onto rest of the batters. So we had a long chat with him and took the decision.”
However when Mathews was informed that he would not be included for the ODIs against England, Mathews has requested for a fitness test to prove himself. But such request has not been entertained.
Mathews came under heavy attack from the selectors after Sri Lanka eliminated from the Asia Cup from the first round and the selectors have questioned his level of fitness and the commitment in the field.
Mathews responded almost immediately and said he feels he is being betrayed and let down by the selectors and the coaching staff. Mathews resigned from the captaincy last year after Sri Lanka lost an ODI series to Zimbabwe at home but was forced to accept the post again by the same selectors and the head coach, as Sri Lanka are preparing for next year's World Cup.
According to head coach Chandika Hathurusingha, the former skipper has involved in 64 run-outs in his career and out of that 49 times he has run-out his partner at the end. Mathews was however named for the Test series that will follow the five-match ODI and one-off Test series against the England.
Mathews has been through a rough patch due to multiple leg injuries during the last 12 months. In order to manage his workload, he was asked to give up his bowling and concentrate purely on his batting.
Since the start of 2017, Mathews has made 888 ODI runs at an average of 59.20, across 22 innings, with a modest strike rate of 76.35. In Sri Lanka's most recent bilateral series, against South Africa, Mathews was in fact the highest scorer across the five matches, having scored 235 runs at 78.33, with a strike rate of 83.62. Since the start of 2017, no other Sri Lanka batsman with over 500 ODI runs averages more than 45.
The dropping of Kusal Mendis was expected. Opening wickets during the Asia Cup for tactical reasons, as coach Hathurusingha explained, Mendis lasted just three balls collecting a pair. Back in the side is Dinesh Chandimal, Sadeera Samarawickrema, Lakshan Sandakan and Nuwan Pradeep, replacing Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Dilruwan Perera and Suranga Lakmal who were all part of the Asia Cup team.
Sri Lanka's five-match ODI series against England begins on October 10.
Meanwhile the selectors also announced the 15-man Test squad for the three-match Test series against England. The team captained by Dinesh Chandimal, see the inclusion of Kaushal Silva and Malinda Pushpakumara and also Rangana Herath who is expected to retire from Test cricket during the series. Even though Sri Lanka has struggled in limited over-cricket, they have shown a steady rise in Test cricket over the last several months. More recently they beat South Africa 2-0 in a two-match series.
The selectors however did not announced the T20 squad for the one-off game against England but confirmed there will be a new skipper for the format.
ODI squad:Dinesh Chandimal (captain), Upul Tharanga, Sadeera Samarawickrema, Niroshan Dickwella, Dananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Malinga, Amila Aponso, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha, Kusal Janith Perera
Standbys: Shehan Madushanka, KUsal Mendis, Dimuth Karunaratne, Suranga Lakmal, Jeffrey Vandersay
Test Squad: Dinesh Chandimal (Captain), Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Niroshan Dickwella, , Malinda Pushpakumara, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, (Subject to fitness) and Kasun Rajitha.
Standbys: Dushamantha Chameera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Nishan Peiris, Jeffrey Vandersay , Kusal Janith Perera.