Batsman speaks about selection controversy November 2, 2007

ICL still part of Atapattu's plans



Marvan Atapattu has showed strong form on the tour of Australia after not playing in the previous five months © Getty Images

Marvan Atapattu, who should be a certainty for the first Test, accepted an invitation from Sri Lanka's sports minister to tour Australia only after checking his diary to make sure the trip didn't interrupt his plans for November.

Atapattu has been approached by the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and if the unofficial tournament had been on track for the start of this month it is likely Atapattu would be in India instead of making polished runs in Brisbane.

Atapattu blames a breakdown in communication with the team management for his exclusion from the side since the World Cup and he was originally left out of the squad for Australia before the government intervention.

"This came along through the sports minister [Gamini Lokuge] who asked if I could go on the trip to Australia and my answer was: 'Okay, I'll go if that Australian trip fits into my plan.' I am 37 and at this stage I cannot be here and there if I don't have a plan. It's the last days of my cricketing career so I have to have a plan."

His plan in the three months before the recall did not involve holding a bat and he has not played since a stint for the English celebrity club Lashings five months ago. In June Atapattu rejected an offer to face Bangladesh because he had not appeared in any international games in the previous 18 months - due to a back injury and his problems with the selectors - and felt he was lacking in matchplay.

However, the condition did not apply for this trip and the poor preparation makes his form on the tour even more intriguing. He enhanced his chances of playing in the first Test at the Gabba next Thursday with 48 in the first innings of the tour match against Queensland, in addition to the 56 he scored in Adelaide last week.

"A lot of things have happened," Atapattu said. "They should not have happened like that. It's out of my control, it's the way it is and it's how the system works. My focus is now to score runs given the chance. It will be that way till I leave Australia."

Atapattu would have retired after the World Cup had he made an on-field contribution and he is unlikely to be a long-term prospect for the side. "I did not play a game in the World Cup and that was not the road I wanted to go out from in international cricket," he said. "That's the only reason I'm playing still."

A move to the ICL is attractive for Atapattu, but it would mean an end to his international career as Sri Lanka plan to ban any of their players who join the league. "That's one of the options I have when I have enough with these guys," he said.

While his future is clouded, he is in no doubt over what a series victory over Australia would mean. "That would be the top of my list," he said. "This is a great opportunity for us. We almost have everybody we'd want in a side to beat Australia. This is a great chance to try and capitalise on that."

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo