de Silva backs Jayasuriya and Malinga for second Test
Aravinda de Silva, former Sri Lankan captain and among the best batsman produced by the island, has called for the inclusion of Lasith Malinga and Sanath Jayasuriya to play in the second Test against England, beginning on Thursday at Edgbaston.
de Silva said that after their improbable escape with a draw at Lord's the tourists should feel confident enough to play a stronger, more balanced side. Malinga was overlooked, surprisingly according to some, for the first Test as Sri Lanka looked to strengthen their batting. Jayasuriya, who had already announced his retirement from Tests, was not in the squad and was only recalled - controversially - at the request of the new chairman of selectors, Ashantha de Mel. "I hope there is now enough confidence to play a more balanced side. Perhaps Malinga and Jayasuriya coming in could help. My theory would be to play the best possible side."
de Silva also predicted that the Lord's draw might spur his countrymen into a better performance for the rest of the series. He told the Daily Telegraph: "The boys did a wonderful job to dig themselves out of a no-win situation at Lord's. It will give them that much more confidence to go out and make this series a really good contest. I think the fact that they were written off before the series started, and that they had a young side which came through a tough Test, looks good for the future."
Both Jayasuriya and Malinga are in contention for places; the latter is almost certain to start after he took five wickets against Sussex. Tom Moody, Sri Lanka's coach admitted as much after that performance. But there is still doubt over whether Jayasuriya will play. After a century against Sussex, as well as a vital fifty against England in the second innings at Lord's, Upul Tharanga is a definite starter at Edgbaston.
The other openers - Jehan Mubarak and Michael Vandort - both played against Sussex, while Jayasuriya was left out at Hove. Neither of the younger openers has looked in good form, however, further complicating Sri Lanka's plans ahead of the second Test. Moody is known to be keen on blooding in younger players as he strives to build a new team and this was not lost on de Silva, who suggested one of the younger two may get the nod. "They may want to continue building this team."
To listen to Charlie Austin's views on Jayasuriya's selection in Cricinfo Audio, click here.