© Getty Images
Aravinda de Silva was member of Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning team in 1996 © Getty Images

Colombo: Sri Lanka‘s sports minister sacked the country’s cricket selectors Tuesday and appointed a new panel headed by former player Aravinda de Silva, just days before they begin their World Twenty20 campaign. Dayasiri Jayasekera dismissed the panel appointed in April last year following Sri Lanka’s failure at the recently-concluded Asia Cup in Bangladesh, as well as other dismal performances, Sri Lanka Cricket said in a statement. “The appointment of the National Selection Committee was carried out by the Honorable Minister citing recent failures encountered by the national team in their tours to New Zealand, India, Asia Cup in Bangladesh and the inconsistency of selection criteria,” the statement said. READ: Lasith Malinga steps down as Sri Lanka captain ahead of ICC World T20 2016

The new panel headed by de Silva, a member of the 1996 World Cup winning team, includes Kumar Sangakkara, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Lalith Kaluperuma and Ranjith Madurasinghe. The new committee is appointed on the eve of Sri Lanka’s departure to India to defend the World Twenty20 trophy they won in 2014, but Sri Lanka have slipped to eighth in the T20 team rankings, just above Afghanistan, after a losing streak at the Asia Cup, which won by India who beat Bangladesh in Sunday’s final.

Former Sri Lanka skipper Sanath Jayasuriya had backed Angelo Mathews to lead Sri Lanka in the ICC World T20 2016, scheduled to be played in India from March 8 after Lasith Malinga had stepped down as Sri Lanka’s T20 captain. The previous selection panel, headed by former Test seamer Kapila Wijegunawardene had been appointed in April and its term had been due to end next month.