Thisara Perera has been occupying the number seven position for Sri Lanka for quite some time now. Before looking into if Thisara is a good enough player for that role, lets first see the importance of number seven position to a cricket team.
A cricket team typically consist of six batsmen including a wicketkeeper and five bowlers. That is number 1 to 6 will be batsmen and bowlers then onwards; however, if the number seven batsman is equally good with both bat and ball, that gives an added advantage for the team. In these cases, the number seven batsmen are expected to bowl their full quota while contributing with the bat when needed. They are also expected to be big hitters, as they may have to increase the run rate in the death overs. If you take a look at all the other countries, you could see that a reasonably capable batsman is occupying the number seven slot (Chris Works or Ben Stokes for England, Neesham for New Zealand, Pandya for India, Maxwell for Australia and Imad Wasim for South Africa). For a long time, Angelo Mathews used to be this player for us. However, because of the injury concerns, Mathews only plays as a batsman while he may arguably be our best batsman, his inability to bowl strikes a significant blow to the balance of the Sri Lankan team.
After that, Thisara Perera seemed to be given an extended run at this position, and he has delivered a few occasions. But unfortunately, he seems to be lacking consistency in his batting. There are days where he seemed to be the best batsman of the Sri Lankan team, and single-handedly won matches to us. Yet in most days, he gets out playing silly shots. Especially against faster bowlers for short balls. According to Cricinfo, his highest score in the last ten outings is 21 while being moderate with the ball. He has only taken two international wickets during this time and that too against weaker sides like Scotland or Afghanistan.
The domestic form of Jeewan Mendis both with bat and ball have shown some promise to the selectors before the world cup squad selection. But his failure at the international level has shown what Mahela Jayawardena has been saying all this time, just how weak our domestic system is. His lack of form and skill in the international level has forced the team to play Dhananjaya De Silva as a bowler. But Dhananjaya is wasted down the batting order as he is a proper top order batsman.
Who is next?
Over the past few years, Sri Lanka has experimented with several players for this position. Asela Gunarathne played this role for some time but never recovered his form after getting injured. However, Asela, now a 33-year-old may not be able to play for the next world cup where he would be a 37-year-old player. Dasun Shanaka promised to be an excellent replacement, but he too got injured and out of world cup contention. However, whenever he played, the 27year-old all-rounder was mostly playing as a batsman who bowls 1 or 2 overs instead of a genuine all-rounder. He rarely bowls his full quota even in the domestic circuit.
This is not to say Dasun is amuck with the ball. He can be quite the bowler in seaming conditions as he has shown in the overseas test matches, he has played. He just needs to put his hand up more and bowl since his only chance to play for the playing 11 is as a genuine all-rounder.
Is there anyone else who can play this role? Our Cricketry Sri Lanka team think that there are another three potential candidates for this position in the domestic circuit. Bhanuka Rajapakse, Chamika Karunarathne and Lahiru Madushanka
Bhanuka had great potential as a young batsman. He used to be Sri Lanka under 19 team’s best batsman. But after been drafted to the domestic scene, his form quickly deteriorated, and he could not live up to his potential. Recently, he seems to have found his lost flair, and now he is one of the inform batsmen in the domestic circuit. He is also a handy right arm seam bowler.
Chamika Karunarathne is a recent addition to Sri Lanka’s international team. This 22-year-old fast bowler is fast gaining his footing around the potential allrounders of Sri Lankan cricket. He can bowl quick and seem to be extremely fit. He is also showing great potential with the bat scoring 57 runs in his last outing against a tough Dambulla team.
Lahiru Madushanka is a similar player to Chamika. He had few games under Sri Lanka’s flag where he failed to impress the selectors. But his recent matches show that he has identified his issues and now competing for a spot in the Sri Lankan squad.
All things considered; Sri Lanka is not without options. We have several candidates who would likely to fill this void if enough opportunities are given. All they need a fair chance and some luck.
Let us know what you think about this in the comments below. As always, your feedback is highly appreciated