Jayasuriya poised for Test return
Sanath Jayasuriya has been recalled to the Sri Lankan Test side after reversing his decision to retire. The selectors met this afternoon, after Jayasuriya indicated a willingness to make himself available for Tests again, and decided to send him to England as soon as possible.
Jayasuriya met with Ashantha de Mel, Sri Lanka's new chairman of selectors, on Wednesday morning to discuss his possible return. The decision has been ratified by the Sports Ministry and although Jayasuriya's travel details have not been confirmed he is likely to arrive in the UK midway through the first Test.
"Jayasuriya indicated a willingness to make himself available for Test cricket again and we decided to send him to England as soon as possible," de Mel told AFP. "Sanath can't reach England in time for the first Test. But he will have enough time to acclimatise and get himself focussed for the second and third Tests."
The muddled scenario is an unwelcome distraction for a young team that ought to be using this tour to build for the future, and their coach, Tom Moody, admitted that the uncertainty would probably be weighing on the minds of his probable openers, Michael Vandort and Upul Tharanga.
"I suppose it's something sitting in the back of your head, 'is he coming, isn't he coming?'", said Moody. "But we in the senior group are encouraging the younger players to stay focused on the opportunity they've got. They need to concentrate on that, there's no point looking over their shoulders.
"Whether it's a senior player coming back or a younger player knocking on door, it makes no difference," added Moody. "The pressure's the same, and you need to take the opportunities when they come. We'll just concentrate on our game. England go into contest as favourites, but there's no point worrying what their expectations are, that's irrelevant. We're going in to win the contest, with spirit and self-belief."
Duleep Mendis, Sri Lanka's chief executive, denied a report appearing in The Daily Mirror that claimed that the decision to send Jayasuriya to England had already been made, saying that he first needed a letter confirming that Jayasuriya had reconsidered his decision to retire. "At this stage I have not received a letter," Mendis said. "When I do, the selection committee will have to meet to confirm and then his selection would have to be ratified with the sports ministry. Only then could arrangements be made for him to join the England tour."
Jayasuriya retired from Test cricket in April, midway through a home series against Pakistan, when the previous selection committee, headed by Lalith Kaluperuma, communicated their plans to blood new openers during the England Test series. Jayasuriya was offered the chance of a dignified farewell Test or an unceremonious sacking.
But de Mel, appointed last week, made it clear that he wanted Jayasuriya to reconsider his decision to retire: "When the selectors knew that Marvan [Atapattu] is not going to make it to England with his back problem they should have continued with Jayasuriya. He just played a county season in England last year and and is the only Sri Lankan to have scored a double hundred in England. What more credentials do you want?"