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Ashantha de Mel returns as Sri Lanka selection chairman

By Staff
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COLOMBO, May 6 (Reuters) Sri Lanka have appointed former fast bowler Ashantha de Mel as chairman of a new-look national selection panel.

De Mel, 46, replaces former Sri Lanka spinner Lalith Kaluperuma, who chaired a controversial four-man panel that faced mounting criticism from the local media in recent weeks.

The new panel, appointed by the government, also includes former wicket-keeper Amal Silva as well as Don Anurasiri and Shabbir Asgerally.

De Mel had served a one-year term as chairman before leaving in April last year. His tenure included a public falling-out with skipper Marvan Atapattu after the axing of middle order batsman for a two-test series against Pakistan.

De Mel had said his capacity as chairman has been undermined by ''vested interests'' of the other selectors and pledged not to return unless given his own team.

''I have always said I was willing to take on the job again only if there is a decent selection committee,'' de Mel told reporters late yesterday.

De Mel said he would turn Sri Lankan cricket around if changes were made to the domestic cricket structure.

''We are appointed for a year and within that confined space of time we need to put into place strategies to improve our local tournaments,'' de Mel added.

''Standards are deteriorating because there is some problem with the system in place. We need to sit and bring out some good ideas to put Sri Lanka's cricket back on track.'' The new committee's first task will be the selection of Sri Lanka's one-day squad for a five-match series in England in June and July.

De Mel was Sri Lanka's leading fast bowler after their elevation to test cricket in 1982, taking 59 wickets at 36.94 in 17 tests before a serious injury ended his career after the 1987 World Cup.

REUTERS DKS HT1004

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