Sri Lanka in New Zealand 2005-06

Jayasuriya recalled for New Zealand tour

Charlie Austin

December 22, 2005

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Sanath Jayasuriya returns to one-day fold © Getty Images
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Sri Lanka's selectors have named Sanath Jayasuriya, the centre of a selection controversy in recent weeks, in a 16-man squad for Sri Lanka's forthcoming four-match ODI series in New Zealand. His inclusion, though, is "subject to fitness" according to a Sri Lanka cricket media release.

Jayasuriya's surprise sacking from the Sri Lanka Test team for their now-completed tour to India created a storm of protest and media criticism. The selectors first justified their decision on the grounds of form and fitness and then changed the rationale to simply fitness as criticism snowballed.

After Sri Lanka's new president ordered a government probe into the decision, a quick Jayasuriya return was always on the cards, especially as he rediscovered some form playing domestic cricket for Bloomfield, his local club in Colombo.

The selectors made several changes following Sri Lanka's 6-1 drubbing by India in November, axing Upul Chandana, Nuwan Zoysa, Thilan Samaraweera and Dilhara Lokuhettige. Their replacements included Malinga Bandara, Lasith Malinga, Ruchira Perera and Jehan Mubarak.

Further selection controversy is likely to be sparked by the omission of Chandana and Zoysa, both of whom starred last year for the one-day team sharing 67 wickets between them. Chandana chipped in with a bat during several crucial run chases and was also Sri Lanka's highest wicket-taker in 2004.

The selectors instead opted for the promising Malinga Bandara, now 25, who performed reasonably well during the recent three-match Test series against India. Perera, a 29-year-old fast bowler with a Bad Boy image due to frequent run-ins with officials and opponents, is Zoysa's replacement.

Mubarak, 24, included in place of Samaraweera, secured a place in the team despite a disappointing Test series against India with scores of 29 not out, 3, 13 and 18. His one-day record is also shaky with 68 runs at 9.71 in his seven previous matches.

Sri Lanka's players will spend Christmas weekend at home before leaving for New Zealand on Tuesday. The four-match series, which starts on December 31 at Queenstown, is a continuation of the unfinished five-match series abandoned last Christmas due to the Asian tsunami.

Squad:

Marvan Atapattu (captain), Chaminda Vaas (vice-captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Farveez Maharoof, Muttiah Muralitharan, Avishka Gunawardene, Lasith Malinga, Malinga Bandara, Jehan Mubarak, Russel Arnold, Ruchira Perera, Dilhara Fernando

Charlie Austin is Cricinfo's Sri Lankan correspondent

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Charlie Austin Sri Lanka editor When Charlie Austin left for Sri Lanka after graduating from Sussex University, he was a planning a winter's cricket in the tropics and a six-month stint with an environmental NGO. His mother's worst fears were soon realised when it became clear that he had fallen in love with the island. Six months have now become eight years and Colombo has become his home. He joined Cricinfo in February 2000 and now heads operations in Sri Lanka, responsible for both sales and editorial. He is also the director of a UK-based travel company called Red Dot Tours, and is currently ghosting Muttiah Muralitharan's autobiography.
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