By Champika Fernando
Given his recent form across all formats, his recalling to the national Test side to tour England baffles many. But not Aravinda de Silva — the former batting great who was in charge of the cricket selectors for a brief 40-day period — who believes the misfiring Lahiru Thirimanne should be persisted with as the 27-year-old is destined for greatness.
Soon after assuming duties as chairman of selectors for the brief 40-day stint in February, de Silva brought in Thirimanne for the World Twenty20 tournament but the batsman managed just 14 runs off his four innings, an awful performance which largely contributed to Sri Lanka’s early exit from the tournament.
However speaking at a press conference on the eve of team’s departure to England for a challenging series, de Silva, now an adviser on cricket affairs to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), says some cricketers a need little more time than others to settle in and thus Thirimanne should be persisted till he gets his magic touch.
“There are certain players we have even found in the past, who take longer than another person to be successful,” de Silva said. “As an example, even Sanath Jayasuriya, if you go through his records, he was initially averaging very, very low. But we saw the potential in him and we stuck by him for a very long time, and we saw the fruits of that later.”
Thirimanne is considered the country’s most technically sound batsman at present but has struggled to find his form across all format in recent past resulting him in being dropped for Sri Lanka’s tour of New Zealand and for the World T20 before being recalled for the World T20 campaign.
Thirimanna has managed just two half centuries in his last 27 Test innings, a pathetic record from a ‘technically sound batsman’ but de Silva urged patience.
“I don’t think it’s fair to criticize players like Thirimanne. At the end of the day we feel that he has the potential.
I don’t think it’s fair by the player to put him under so much pressure when is going to play. I think they should go out with a free frame of mind to play when they represent the country. I think they need that freedom on the field for them to go out and perform,” he said.
Thirimanne was not in the initial 20-member squad set up to finalize the touring party, but was included at the last minute but new chairman of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya said the left-hander was selected on merit keeping an eye on the future.
“There was no pressure whatsoever to include him,” Jayasuriya said.
A Sri Lanka Cricket press release yesterday said that Thirimanne was a late addition to the squad which resulted in him not getting his UK visa on time to travel with the team yesterday. He will travel to England today as he received the required travel documents last evening.