The Sanath Jayasuriya-led Sri Lankan national selection panel will step down at the completion of India’s tour of Sri Lanka on September 6, it was confirmed on Tuesday (August 29).
“Sri Lanka Cricket chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, as well as committee members Ranjith Madurasinghe, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Asanka Gurusinha and Eric Upashantha, have decided to resign,” said the Sri Lankan sports ministry. “A combined letter bearing the names of the above committee has conveyed this decision to sports minister Dayasiri Jayasekara. According to the letter, their tenure will end on September 7.”
India and Sri Lanka will play a one-off Twenty20 International at the R Premadasa Stadium on September 6 to round off the near two-month tour.
The panel, serving a six-month extension period since July this year, took the decision after witnessing the crowd’s reaction during Sri Lanka’s third One-Day International at Pallekele International Stadium on Sunday. Fans started throwing bottles on to the playing area to express their anguish as India were cruising to a series-clinching win.
“We the National Selection Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket have decided after serious consideration and deliberation to resign from our position at the end of the ongoing Indian series,” the selectors said in a statement. “We wish to state this decision is made in the best interest of the game, which is being damaged and hindered by undue criticism and false allegations instigated by interested parties with malicious intent. This instigation has led to a public outcry, which in both the short and long term is damaging the present and the future of the game by demoralising the players and creating an unfair, untrue and hurtful image of the team, the coaching staff, the selectors, and the administration.
“This is especially saddening when considering the damage that is caused by the actions of these disgruntled elements seeking to destabilise the organisation which has been built up over decades by the hard work and dedication of its administrators, is widespread and brings to disrepute this glorious game lauded throughout history as a gentleman’s game,” the statement went on, adding that the crowd trouble in Pallekele was the clincher in their decision to call it quits.
“The heartbreaking incidents of unruly behaviour we witnessed at Pallakelle last Sunday were the last straw for us, and we feel that it will serve this sport we love better if we step down, rather than allow the influence of these dark elements to poison the minds of our people who have always been the greatest supporters in the world, and damage not only this great sport, but the reputation of our country, our people and our proud culture.”
India’s 3-0 lead in the five-match ODI series comes on the back of a commanding 3-0 sweep in the preceding Test series. Before India arrived in Sri Lanka, the home team had also suffered a 3-2 loss at the hands of Zimbabwe, though they narrowly won the one-off Test.
Jayasuriya took over as chief selector from Aravinda de Silva on May 1, 2016. Early in Jayasuriya’s term, Sri Lanka swept Australia 3-0 at home and won a Twenty20 International series in Australia, but since, then the decline has been swift and abject.
Jayasuriya had previously held the post from January 2013 to March 2015, a stint during which Sri Lanka won the World T20 2014 and a Test series in England.