Sri Lanka in England 2006 May 13, 2006

Jayasuriya denies president behind Test return


Sanath Jayasuriya - to return or not to return? © Getty Images
Sanath Jayasuriya has insisted that the president of Sri Lanka played no role in his decision to end his retirement from Test cricket.

Jayasuriya, the 36-year-old former Sri Lanka captain, who arrived in England on Saturday, could only watch from beyond the boundary at Lord's while his erstwhile team-mates followed-on in the first Test after being bowled out for just 192 in reply to England's first innings 551 for 6 declared.

It is less than a month since Jayasuriya said he was quitting Test cricket in order to concentrate on one-day internationals in the build-up to next year's World Cup in the Caribbean. But he insisted his decision to make himself available again for the five-day game was down to the newly-appointed chairman of selectors Asantha de Mel and not Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's president .

"Asantha de Mel is the chairman of selectors and he was the one who contacted me," Jayasuriya said. "He was the one who changed my mind and after discussions with various people involved in my career I thought if the team and my country need me then my services are available."

Jayasuriya added that Tom Moody, Sri Lanka's coach, was fully supportive of his change of heart even though Moody appeared to have played little role in his decision. "I had a long discussion with Tom and explained I wanted to return and he was alright" said Jayasuriya, while Moody commented: "Sanath's obviously had some deep thought about his decision to retire. If he's fit and back in form, it can't be a bad thing can it?

"He's a devastating player, he has been for Sri Lanka for many, many years. He's obviously still a very key component to our one-day campaign and he was due here anyway in two or three weeks' time for the one-dayers.

"Him coming early, the positive is that he's going to get used to English conditions a little bit earlier for the one-day series if not before then."

Jayasuriya is set to play in Sri Lanka's next match, a four-day game against Sussex at Hove starting on Thursday. But he was uncertain if he would play in the second Test of the three-match series which is due to get underway at Edgbaston on May 25. "I'm here to play the next tour match and we'll have to see how it goes from there," Jayasuriya explained. "I haven't played the longer version of the game for a few months now and I will need to settle in here because conditions are different."

However, with opener Jehan Mubarak making 0 and 6 at Lord's, Jayasuriya could be back in Test action sooner than he thought, although he said he would not like to take the place of a younger player.