Sri Lanka, reeling from a tumultuous conclusion to 2023, finds solace in the appointment of Dhananjaya de Silva as the new Test captain. Upul Tharanga, the newly-appointed chief selector, ushered in this change, marking de Silva as the 18th player to helm the Island Nation in Tests.
This decision follows the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) announcement of separate captains for white-ball formats, with Kusal Mendis leading the ODI team and Wanindu Hasaranga named the T20I captain.
Replacing the seasoned opener Dimuth Karunaratne, de Silva assumes leadership ahead of the one-off Test against Afghanistan, commencing on February 6. Karunaratne, who captained Sri Lanka in 30 Tests, left an indelible mark, guiding the team to a historic Test series win in South Africa, a notable achievement in early 2019.
Despite challenges during his tenure, Karunaratne brought stability and calmness to the dressing room. Although the team didn’t achieve desired results, his individual batting performances flourished. Notably, his average as captain soared to 49.86, surpassing his overall Test average of 40.93. Karunaratne’s impactful leadership earned him a spot in the ICC Test Team of the Year in 2018 and 2021.
Upul Tharanga expressed a preference for a single captain across all formats but cited limitations as the reason for naming three separate skippers. As Sri Lanka navigates this transition, the cricketing landscape anticipates the impact of de Silva’s leadership in revitalizing the team’s fortunes.