Current stars dominate
Aravinda de Silva, Muttiah Muralidaran, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were unanimous choices for Sri Lanka's all-time XI, picked by a ten-member Cricinfo jury of ex-players and journalists. Notable omissions included Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera.
Over half the side consists of current players and those recently retired: Chaminda Vaas, Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu, who got nine votes apiece, also made the XI.
Three players in the team featured in Sri Lanka's inaugural Test -- former captain Arjuna Ranatunga, fast bowler Ashantha de Mel and leg-spinner Somachandra de Silva.
The vote for the second spinner clearly divided the jury, with the two de Silvas tied on three votes each. Somachandra, who played 12 Tests in Sri Lanka's first two years at the top level, and led them in two, was picked for his superior Test record.
Ranatunga, the country's most charismatic captain, who led Sri Lanka to a World Cup win in 1996, got eight votes, while de Mel got five. De Mel's fast bowling partners in the XI are Rumesh Ratnayake, who took nine wickets in the team's maiden Test win, against India in 1985, and Vaas, Sri Lanka's second highest wicket-taker after Murali, who also serves as the all-rounder by default.
Jayasuriya was picked by all but one jury member as one of the openers, but there was no room in the XI for his old partner, Roshan Mahanama, with whom Jayasuriya added a world-record 576 for the second wicket against India in 1997. Instead, the second opener's spot went to former captain Marvan Atapattu, who made 5,502 runs from 90 Tests.
Sangakkara was given the gloves over present Test keeper Prasanna Jayawardene and the highly rated Mahes Goonatilleke.
The jury included former players Ranjan Madugalle (now an ICC match referee), Sidath Wettimuny, Ranjit Fernando, Russel Arnold and Ranil Abeynaike, as well as some of Sri Lanka's leading cricket writers.
Sri Lanka is the fifth team in a Cricinfo series of XIs where all-star teams are picked for the top Test-playing nations.
Cricinfo also asked readers to vote for their favourites. The readers' XI had more contemporary players than the jury's. Mendis was picked as second spinner after Murali, while Lasith Malinga was preferred over de Mel.
THE READERS' XI
Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu, Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva, Mahela Jayawardene, Arjuna Ranatunga, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Rumesh Ratnayake, Muttiah Muralidaran, Ajantha Mendis.
OPENERS: Marvan Atapattu, Sanath Jayasuriya, Roshan Mahanama, Sidath Wettimuny, Tillakaratne Dilshan.
MIDDLE ORDER: Roy Dias, Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Hashan Tillakaratne, Asanka Gurusinha.
WICKETKEEPERS: Mahes Goonatilleke, Amal Silva, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Kumar Sangakkara, Prasanna Jayawardene.
SPINNERS: Somachandra De Silva, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajit de Silva, Ajantha Mendis, Don Anurasiri.
FAST BOWLERS: Ravi Ratnayeke, Chaminda Vaas, Rumesh Ratnayake, Ashantha de Mel, Lasith Malinga.