Selectors opt for youth for England warm-up games
Test wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene and middle-order batsman Thilina Kandamby will lead their respective sides in each of the two warm-up games against England ahead of the first Test against Sri Lanka that starts on March 26 in Galle.
Jayawardene, who is expected to keep wickets in the two Tests against England, is being given a game against international opposition after recovering from a hernia surgery sustained during the Test series against Pakistan last October. Jayawardene has been playing for his club Bloomfield in the ongoing domestic first-class season and has scored 412 runs at an average 45.77 with a century and two fifties. He will lead the Sri Lanka Board XI in the first three-day game starting at the R Premadasa Stadium on Thursday.
Kandamby, whose last appearance for his country was against England in a T20 international at Bristol last June, will captain the Sri Lanka Cricket Development XI in the second warm-up match starting at the SSC grounds on March 20.
Both teams comprise a crop of young and talented players whom the national selectors have identified for the future. They have also retained some players who have been in and out of the the national squads. "We want to give as much exposure to the youngsters who hardly get to play much international matches," chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel said. Playing against a strong England side will give them that kind of exposure which they lack.
"The standard of our domestic cricket gives limited opportunities to our players who find it hard to bridge the gap between first-class cricket and Test cricket."
De Mel said that in order to give younger players exposure they had not picked Test players like Thilan Samaraweera, Tharanga Paranavitana, Rangana Herath and Suraj Randiv, all of whom are likely to be included in the Test squad.
Sri Lanka Board XI: Prasanna Jayawardene (captain/wk), Dimuth Karunaratne, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Roshen Silva, Sachithra Serasinghe, Malinga Bandara, Dilruwan Perera, Tyronne Gamage, Nilanka Premaratne, Kanishka Alvitigala, Ashen Silva
Sri Lanka Cricket Development XI: Thilina Kandamby (captain), Chamara Silva, Malintha Warnapura, Dilshan Munaweera, Angelo Perera, Kushal Janith Perera (wk), Sajeewa Weerakoon, Kaushal Lokuarachchi, Tharanga Lakshitha, Vishwa Fernando, Isuru Udana