ICC U-19 World Cup 2018 Boyagoda ridicules U-19 management with record breaking 191

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By 2018-01-24

By Anjana Kaluarachchi

Opener Hasitha Boyagoda let his bat do the talking for his unfair omission from the team when he scored a world record 191 runs which enabled SL U-19 beat Kenya U-19 by a massive 311 runs in their plate championship match of the ICC U-19 World Cup played yesterday in New Zealand.

Boyagoda's 151 ball inning which saw 28 fours and 2 sixes, is the highest score by any Sri Lankan batsman in an international limited over game, whether senior or junior.

The classy left hander from Trinity College who is the number one opener of the SL U-19 team, was dropped from the last two games of the ICC U-19 World Cup making way for the controversial inclusion of Santhush Gunathilaka, where SL team lost both matches against Pakistan and Afghanistan and were dumped out of the Cup Tournament and ended up fighting for the 9th place play off.

It's remarkable that the Sri Lanka team that had made some historic tours to South Africa and England in 2017 ended up dropping out from the group stage of both the Asia Cup and World Cup. Ceylon Today contacted a member of the Junior Selection Committee who was in operation during the 2016 ICC U-19 World Cup until December 31st 2017, he revealed some shocking details about miscalculations, favouritism, outdated tactics, and etc etc.

Early Success

Sri Lanka Under 19 team was selected by the same junior selectors who were in operation when selecting the present U-19 team which ended up as semi-finalist in 2016. Then in early 2017 the Under 19 team beat South Africa in South Africa clinching a series win where SLC had high hopes about their success in the future. In July 2017 SL U-19 team made history by beating England in a three day match series in England followed by whitewashing them in the three match ODI series in England where hopes of the country regarding U-19 team's success in the upcoming (by then) Asia Cup and World Cup were sky high, especially with Kamindu Mendis and Jehan Daniel who played in the 2016 Youth World Cup being captain and vice captain of the 2018 team.

But in just four months SL U-19 team ended up as a group stage drop out in the Asia Cup and in six months time they found themselves playing for the 9th place of the World Cup.

"Major difference from 2016 to 2018 was the coach. We had Roger Wijesuriya in 2016 that is good with modern day tactics and coaching compared to Roy Dias. He seems to be still living in the 60-70s. Most of his tactics, training and approach are outdated. And he doesn't execute a plan as it is and almost always ended up in a mess," said the Selector.

Asia Cup flops

In preparation for the Asia Cup Roy Dias decided to train indoors due to rain in Colombo, while ignoring SLC request to travel to Dambulla or Hambantota for practices. That resulted in a spinal injury to the premier U-19 paceman Nipun Ransika due to continuous training indoors and who has been sidelined since. Ransika was the main architect who delivered the series win in South Africa, while also being impressive in Australia.

Then SL U-19 team management led by Coach Roy Dias and Manager Mahinda Halangoda did a Shaun Pollock by miscalculating SL's chances to qualify for the semi-finals during the Asia Cup.

Sri Lanka won their first two matches against Afghanistan and UAE with Pakistan to play in the group stage when the team management decided to rest first choice pacemen Kalana Perera and Thisaru Rashmitha along with first choice wicket keeper Krishan Sanjula. Result was Sri Lanka losing to Pakistan and subsequently dropping out from the Asia Cup.

Pre World Cup drama

"Following the Asia Cup, we had an opportunity to test some other under 19 players who weren't in the squad for the Asia Cup on the tour of India which we named SLC Board President's XI, resting several key Under 19 players. The team was led by Ayana Siriwardana," said the Selector.

Ayana's all round performance during the said series earned him a National U-19 call up and he was named in the team by Junior Selectors for the World Cup, but Coach Roy Dias had other ideas in mind.

"We were asked to come for the selection meeting along with National Selection Committee Chairman Graham Labrooy. Coach Roy Dias then accepted our proposed team and then asked to leave. They then finalized the team and sent it to the Sports Ministry for approval. But they had removed Ayana and had included Coach's favourite bits and pieces all rounder Santhush Gunathilaka to the team as backup opener," said the Selector.

That incident caught everyone's attention, including huge publicity given by media, and subsequently Ayana's college, Isipathana, made a formal request making a case for the inclusion of Ayana to Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara. But nothing changed as Minister took his time but finally approved the team and directed the letter from Isipathana College to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to take appropriate action, which ended up in the dustbin.

Gunathilaka's father is the former Chairman of the SL Umpires Association; hence, Ceylon Today learns he used his influence to get his son into the team even though he failed to influence junior selectors to include his son.

In the meantime, Roy Dias decided to train in Kandy ahead of the World Cup, where regular wicket keeper batsman Krishan Sanjula fell ill and subsequently was hung to dry thereafter just like Ransika.

Subsequently junior selectors' tenure was not renewed and the committee was automatically defused.

World Cup blunder

Following a half century in the warm-up game against Australia it seemed Sri Lanka opening slot was fixed for Hasith Boyagoda, but one failure against Ireland meant Boyagoda was dropped from the team making way for Team Management's favourite Santhush Gunathilaka. Interestingly National Selector Graham Labrooy was also present in New Zealand and approved the change.

But surprisingly instead of Gunathilaka, 17 year old Nuwanindu Fernando, who had never opened and was good in the middle order, was forced to open the inning resulting in failure as he could only score 4 runs each in two matches against Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Gunathilaka who was allowed to bat at number 8 scored just 12 and 16 respectively playing less than run a ball. Also Sri Lanka had four fast bowling options in the match against Afghanistan where Santhush was the fifth option, but was given the ball as first change in an attempt to justify his selection but ended up wicket-less. Even after the first match failure of 12 runs at 66.66 batting at number eight and wicket-less eight overs, Gunathilaka was continued to be given the chance even in the following match which Sri Lanka lost and ended up playing in the plate championship. Boyagoda was then given another chance which he grabbed with both hands and smashed a world record breaking 191, which was a slap in the face of the SLC U-19 team management who continued to blunder destroying the youth team's chances for success.

Sri Lanka U19's: 419/4 in 50 overs (Hasitha Boyagoda 191, Nishan Madushka 60, Kamindu Mendis 53 n.o., Jehan Daniel 37, Nuwanindu Fernando 35 n.o., Dhananjaya Lakshan 29, Akesh Chimbaran 2/68)

Kenya U19's: 108 in 35.5 overs (Thomas Ochieng 45, Hareen Buddhila 4/27, Nipun Malinga 2/14)

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