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May 20, 2010
A relaxed and refreshed Sri Lanka are looking forward to the new experience of playing in the United States this weekend, according to the batsman Mahela Jayawardene. It's a week since they lost their World Twenty20 semi-final to the eventual champions England, and while the time off wasn't exactly part of their plan it has given them time to focus on this weekend's Twenty20s against New Zealand in Florida.
"We wouldn't have wanted to have that much downtime, obviously we would have wanted to go all the way in the tournament," Jayawardene said. "After a long season it's been good time off for some of the guys to recuperate and get their rehab and strengthening done before we start all over again.
"Miami is a new place for all of us. Most of the guys haven't been to the States. We've had a look around, went to a baseball game. I'm looking forward to it. It looks like a very decent venue. It's something different, going out of your routine of playing against top nations in venues you're quite familiar with. It will be good fun."
The matches on Saturday and Sunday will be the first internationals held in the United States. The venue, Central Broward Park in Lauderhill, is an impressive looking stadium and Ross Taylor, the New Zealand batsman, said the conditions at the ground were a mystery to the players.
"The wicket is under cover at the moment," Taylor said. "There's a New Zealand groundsman here looking after it and preparing it. To be honest, we don't really know what to expect but I'm sure it will be a decent Twenty20 wicket."
The stadium was opened in November 2007 and it has taken a strategic partnership between New Zealand Cricket and the USA Cricket Association for top-level teams to finally make the trip to Florida. Don Lockerbie, the chief executive of the USACA, hopes this series will be the first of many to be held in the US.
"We've been waiting a long time for this," Lockerbie said. "This is part of what we've been calling Destination USA. We took, with the board's help, a view to try and bring in the best teams in the world and show that the United States is open for business as far as cricket is concerned.
"We have the stadiums, the only full- fledged cricket stadium in North America. With other temporary improvements it could one day hold up to 20,000 people. We're hoping we can get a good crowd this weekend and fill it up to 5000 to 8000 seats a game and show that down the road we want to see more teams come and play and get the whole US experience and the cricket experience can grow in the US."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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