Religious sect overtaking Sri Lanka cricket? | Sunday Observer

Religious sect overtaking Sri Lanka cricket?

1 January, 2023

A discussion had recently arisen over a particular religious sect overtaking Sri Lanka cricket. The topic has now once again come to the fore after talented batsman Dinesh Chandimal was removed from the Sri Lanka squad for the upcoming tour of India.

Chandimal was the third-best scorer at the recently concluded LPL. Therefore the decision to leave him out of the upcoming tour has raised concerns among cricketing fans as rumours of one having to belong to this religious cult in order to be chosen for the team have been making the rounds recently.

An Anandian, Chandilmal represented the Colombo Stars at the LPL and scored a whopping 49 against the Jaffna Kings. Though the Colombo Stars suffered defeat at the hands of the Jaffna Kings team, Chandimal was instrumental in taking his team to the finals.

Avishka Fernando was the top scorer at the LPL, scoring 339 runs in ten innings. Chandimal, who was the first best, gathered 287 runs in 11 innings. Among the other top scorers were Andre Fletcher, Kamindu Mendis, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, and Pathum Nishshanka. Former captain Angelo Mathews placed 12th in the list of top scorers while Bhanuka Rajapaksa placed 26th by scoring just 95 runs in seven matches.

Twenty cricketers will be included in the Indian tour to play in three T20 and one-day matches each. Accordingly, Bhanuka and Nuwan Thushara have been named for the T20 squad while Jeffrey Vandersay and Nunwanidu Fernando have been included in the one-day squad. Dasun Shanaka will captain the one-day team while Winidu Hasranga will lead the T20 team. However, going by the squad named, it is questionable as to how Chandimal’s recent performance was not deemed good enough to be included in either of these teams.

Cricinfo called Chandimal an ‘unfortunate player’ while noting his average was an impressive 31.88 at the LPL and his batting speed was 126.99. The website had questioned Bhanuka’s inclusion in the team due to his dismal performance at the LPL and at the T20 world cup where he only scored 125 runs in seven innings.

While Chandimal is a right-handed batsman, Bhanuka is a left-hander. The need for a left-handed batsman for the India tour has been disseminated as the reason to include Bhanuka in the squad, resulting in Chandimal being left out. However, it is questionable as to why left-handed Kamindu Mendis who was the fifth-best scorer at the LPL was not included then instead of Bhanuka who has failed to perform.

A player’s current level is often the manner to decide if he is to be included in the squad or not. If not the selectors consider the performance at the last tournament for the purpose. If the LPL performance was considered accordingly then it is perplexing as to why Chandimal who was the third-best scorer was left out.


The writer has also previously revealed the manner in which selectors often name their favourites to the squad despite their performance levels.

Though the national selectors must be independent and take decisions that would benefit the team as one mistake could turn the fate of Sri Lanka cricket, the behaviour of current selectors has been less than desirable leading people to believe the selectors either accept bribes or are subjected to various pressures in selecting players for the national team. Such incidents have also been reported internationally and have often resulted in the futures of cricketers being ruined along with the sport.

If Sri Lanka has such selectors should they not be held responsible for the defeat faced by Sri Lanka at the T20 world cup recently.

Recently all talk about Bhanuka has not been about his cricket but instead about his joining a religious cult and his active promotion of it through cricket. In fact, he even credited Sri Lanka’s Asia Cup win to that particular religious cult. Therefore it has been questioned if Bhanuka has been included in this cult due to the pressures exerted by this religious sect. It is also said some selectors are also members of this cult.

The Ministry of Sports must look into this which is why the Minister of Sports Roshan Ranasinghe appointed a committee to probe into these allegations.

This committee led by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojani Weerawardana includes former Ministry Secretary Kingsley Fernando, Retired DIG Sudath Nagahamulla, Retired Admiral Ananda Peiris, Former Cricketer Nalin de Alwai and Attorney Shalani Roshana. The Minister had directed the committee to submit a report on their findings. It is reported that the tenure of the committee has been extended by a month and investigations are continuing into the allegations.

While it is too early to comment on the veracity of claims stating the religious cult has direct involvement in the sport, it is difficult to believe otherwise due to the manner in which players are being chosen for the team as it appears to be illogical and unreasonable given their respective performances.

The selectors must be held answerable for these decisions or explain the reasons behind these selections. But instead Sri Lanka’s fans have been left with a host of questions and concerns that have no direct answers.


It is unfortunate that while Sri Lanka cricket is attempting to move forward together with technology, certain players, selectors and even administrators are following mythical fallacies instead.

Though Sri Lankan selectors have failed to recognise Chandimal’s value and talent, he has already been chosen for the first-ever International League T20 scheduled to be held in the UAE representing the ‘Desert Vipers’ team. The Khaleej Times said it is believed Chandimal will be able to display his talents at the ILT despite not being chosen for the Indian T20 tour.