Sri Lankan batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa has reverted his call to retire from international cricket, expressing desire to represent his country for “years to come”. This, in direct contrast to his earlier statement, when he bid adieu to top-level game citing “family obligations”.
The u-turn from the left-hander comes to light after his meeting with Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister, and further consultations with the national selectors.
“Pursuant to a meeting with the Hon. Namal Rajapaksa – Minister of Youth & Sports and after consulting with the national selectors, Bhanuka Rajapaksa has notified SLC that he wishes to withdraw his resignation which he tendered to SLC on 3rd Jan. 2022, with immediate effect,”stated SLC in a media release.
“In his letter to SLC withdrawing his resignation, he further states that he wishes to represent his country in the game he loves for the years to come,”the board added.
The Sports Minister, in his earlier statement on the matter, had issued a warning for Rajapaksa to not arrive at such an important decision in haste and rethink his call aged only 30 and having done well at the T20 World Cup in UAE in October-November.
ESPNcricinfo reported that while Rajapaksa had cited family obligations as the key factor behind his earlier call, the batter was more at grievance with the new fitness criteria imposed in Sri Lankan cricket.
Rajapaksa had a fall out with former head coach Mickey Arthur regarding fitness. But that issue was resolved after the batter worked on his physique and got his fitness regime right. But the board then announced a new, tougher benchmark for players to adhere to from 2022 onwards, which Rajapaksa wasn’t quite in line with.
Rajapaksa isn’t the first player to consider retiring because of the strictly imposed new fitness criteria. Angelo Perera and Danushka Gunathilaka also chose to do so, although Gunathilaka made his call only for Test cricket.
These retirements led SLC to publish a separate set of guidelines for cricketers looking to part ways with the national setup. The idea is to protect the depth of talent available in the national and domestic scene.