From record breaker to bench warmer

Published : 9:13 am  May 16, 2018 | No comments so far |  |  (196) reads | 

Promising opener Boyagoda on the sidelines once again

LATE-CITY-MB_1-4By Shehan Daniel

One of Sri Lanka’s best young cricketing talents has again fallen victim to arbitrary selection decisions finding himself on the bench instead of being given the opportunity to showcase his prodigious skills. 


The omission of Hasitha Boyagoda from the Sri Lanka Team for a majority of their group games at the Under-19 World Cup in January was one of the talking points when breaking down why Sri Lanka failed to progress in that tournament. 


After scoring a four-ball duck in Sri Lanka’s tournament opener against Ireland, Boyagoda’s next chance came only after his team were out of cup contention, and he reminded those who overlooked him of vast talent when he cracked 191 off 152 balls against Kenya in a quarter-final play-off for ninth place – a world record for international junior limited over cricket. 


And despite another duck in his next game, against Zimbabwe, Boyagoda bounced back with another century in the ninth-place play-off final against the West Indies, helping his team finish as Plate champions, while personally finishing as his country’s highest run scorer with 307 runs in just four innings. 


This selection blunder was perhaps one of the reasons Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) decided to move on from Roy Dias as its junior coach, but a similar fate has befallen Boyagoda during the ongoing Super Four Inter-Provincial Tournament. 


While having seen some of his World Cup teammates – namely Jehan Daniel, Nishan Mathushka, Ashen Bandara and Kamindu Mendis – being given playing time in the Super Four Tournament, Boyagoda continues to sit on the bench. 


Named in the Kandy Provincial Team, led by National limited overs Captain Angelo Mathews, Boyagoda was not included in the playing XI of any of the three four-day First Class matches, and, more surprisingly, was overlooked for the five matches his provincial team has played in the 50-over tournament – a format more suited to the dashing young batsman’s skill set. 


And it’s not a question of bad form, with the Trinity College Captain having scored three centuries for his school – two in limited over matches – since his return from the Under-19 World Cup.  


Manager of the Kandy Provincial Team Malinda Warnapura speaking to the  said Boyagoda has not featured in any of the limited over matches because of the glut of batsmen in that squad. 


“We have several National players Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Angelo Mathews and Chamara Kapugedera in the Kandy Squad playing as batsmen and we need to give them first preference,” Warnapura said yesterday. 
“However, since some of the National players have left us for the National Team’s training camp in Pallekele, we are considering Boyagoda for the last 50-over match.”


A former Junior National Selector however, questioned the exposure that players like Boyagoda were getting at the highest level of domestic cricket. 


“When the tournament was launched, SLC officials spoke very highly about this being a good chance to give youngsters a chance to get exposure with senior National players. However, an identified future prospect, has been sidelined and not been given even one chance to play, despite other teams giving other junior players a fair chance,” he said. 

 

However, since some of the National players have left us for the National Team’s training camp in Pallekele, we are considering Boyagoda for the last 50-over match


While the opportunity of training with National cricketers and coaches is an invaluable grounding in itself, game time against the best players in the country would be the kind of experience that would help elevate a young player’s game. 


The Indian Premier League (IPL) has featured a few of the junior players that represented India at the Under-19 World Cup in January with Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill and Shivam Mavi turning out regularly for their franchises. 
Perhaps it is up to SLC to enforce a rule that sees young players get a fair chance to play and gain exposure at this level – so that talents like Boyagoda develop to represent Sri Lanka – knowing that the experience would help shortened the learning curve when transitioning into the international game.