By Susitha Fernando
Colombo, Jan 13 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s explosive middle-order batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who announced his retirement from national cricket, has withdrawn his resignation following a request by Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka Cricket, the governing body on Thursday announced, “pursuant to a meeting with Namal Rajapaksa -– Minister of Youth and 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”.
“In his letter to SLC withdrawing his resignation, he further states that he wishes to represent his country in the game he loves for years to come,” the SLC said.
On January 5, SLC announced that Bhanuka has informed his resignation considering his obligations towards his family.
“I have very carefully considered my position as a player, husband and am taking this decision looking forward to fatherhood and associated familial obligations,” Bhanuka said in his letter of resignation.
However, media reports indicated that Rajapaksa’s retirement was connected to the latest fitness standards introduced by the SLC. The hard-hitting left-handed middle-order batsman had issues with fitness when the former head coach Mickey Arthur introduced tough fitness standards.
It was also reported that before the fitness test held on January 7 and 8, the 30-year-old batter in a letter to the SLC had requested an exemption of the fitness test for all national players as they had a hectic schedule for over six months which ended on December 23 with the Lanka Premier League.
Following the retirement announcement from Lankan cricket, Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa had requested Bhanuka to reconsider his decision.
Issuing a statement, Minister Rajapaksa had said that as “a young player, Bhanuka, should be able to move forward through challenges without taking hasty decisions regarding his career”.
The minister, who is the son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, has stated that if there is a problem with the administration or if an injustice has been done leading to such a decision (of Bhanuka), there is an opportunity to intervene.
In addition to the Minister, former Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga had, in a tweet, urged Bhanukato to reconsider his decision. “Representing your country at the international level is not an easy task and players always face so many challenges. I truly believe that @BhanukaRajapak3 has a lot more to give to Sri Lankan cricket and I request him to reconsider his decision to retire from international cricket,” Malinga had tweeted.
Even though Bhanuka has withdrawn his resignation, it is not decided whether he would join the upcoming ODI series starting on Sunday against Zimbabwe.
A spokesman for the SLC told IANS, that Bhanuka could be called depending on the requirement of the team. However, he said the selection has been already done and the squad has been announced.