Roshen caught in a quandary

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Sri Lanka Test cap Roshen Silva has had an unfortunate career for the past two years, where he was unable to make it to the Test team on several occasions despite a promising start four years ago, and when the call finally came, he was already in England playing in the Lancashire League, resulting in SLC dropping him from the squad for the forthcoming Test tour to Bangladesh.

Silva was not really happy about how things turned out. He wanted to come back, but circumstances were not in his favour and his hands were tied. Ceylon Today learns that SLC has now called up Kamindu Mendis to replace Silva in the squad.

The 33-year-old made his Test debut finally in 2017 against India in Delhi after an illustrious domestic career, and he made a match saving unbeaten 74 in the game and many thought he was destined to have an amazing Test career. But soon he found himself out of the team despite some promising performances. 

For the last four and half years, Silva has only played 12 Tests, where he made 702 runs with a century and five half centuries. However, on many occasions he had to warm the bench or had been called up as injury cover without getting a game, and yet he kept going.

In the recently concluded SLC Super League series early this month, he made 304 runs in six innings with a century (174 n.o.) and two half centuries, but then tested positive for Covid-19 with several of his teammates, subsequently missing out from the final stages of the league.

Days after his recovery, he finally took a decision to play Lancashire League in England and informed SLC on 18 April via email.

Few days later Silva was in a dilemma. He was informed that he had been included in the provisional squad for the forthcoming Test tour of Bangladesh and was asked to come back and do the 2 km fitness Test. However, Silva was not in a position to purchase a return ticket for
Rs 500,000 to come back and undergo a fitness test without any guarantee whether or not he will make it to the final Test squad, which will jeopardise his current contract in UK and leave him without any pay to make a living for him and his family.

 “I was benched for around four series. They did not even recall me for the final 20-member squad for the previous series against India which I hoped I will get a call as I had done well against India before. As they had not given me an opportunity I inquired about it from SLC officials, but they failed to give a convincing answer. During the past four series I was not even included in the final 15-member squad. When that is the case we have no way of getting any pay. I didn’t get any chance to play, I wasn’t even in the final squad, and there is also no contract for me. England have been calling me for the past 36-month period. Whenever I tend to play in England, they (SLC) put me into the squad. However, once I am picked I tend to kick my heels at hotels without getting paid or getting a chance to play cricket. For 18-months I received nothing,” said Silva speaking from UK.  

“They have drawn up new contracts, but even there my name has not been included. I heard even a domestic contract has not been given to me. Then my options are limited. What I like is to play cricket not to warm the bench. Hence, I sent an e-mail to SLC CEO Ashley de Silva and the rest informing about my decision, stating that I am heading to play in the Lancashire League which is the best League in England. I also mentioned that I am also willing to play for my country when needed,” added Silva.

Silva who seems to be frustrated about how things turned out, went on to explain further about his situation where the 33-year-old said that he always wanted to make it to the team purely on merit and is disappointed about how he has been treated all these years.

“I had never gone after any MP, selector or any SLC official to play for
Sri Lanka. I have played purely on merit and not due to any other benefit or influence of anyone. They (SLC) told me to purchase a ticket and then to return to Colombo to run 2 km as part of the fitness test requirement. Then I told them that I cannot guarantee running the distance as I had been afflicted with Covid-19 recently and that I would play and then run the fitness test. I then conveyed to them that the price of a ticket had now shot up to Rs. 500.000 and as I do not have that much so I asked them to give me a concession, at least to cover it from my match fees. But, to date there has not been a positive response from SLC, including the Team Manager. That is the situation with regard to my immediate prospects with Sri Lanka,” said Silva.

But he assured that he has no intention to leave the country or ruled out playing for Sri Lanka in the future.

“I must say that I have not gone to England to play permanently. Once the League is over I will return home.”

By Anjana Kaluarachchi