Sri Lankan legspinner will miss A tour June 21, 2005

Malinga Bandara heads for Gloucestershire

Malinga Bandara hopes to do a better job at Gloucestershire than Upul Chandana, the man he is replacing © Getty Images

Malinga Bandara, the legspinner, is due to leave for England at the end of the month to play for Gloucestershire. Bandara will replace Upul Chandana, who is returning home after playing for the county in the first half of the on-going English season.

Chandana is required for national duty against West Indies who are due for two Tests followed by the one-day triangular tournament also involving India.

Although the national selectors have yet to name a squad for the Test and one-day triangular, Chandana, who has represented his country in 16 Tests and 133 one-day internationals, is considered a certainty for both forms of the game.

His stint with Gloucestershire was rather moderate - he scored 136 runs at an average of 17 and took 16 wickets at avgerage of 46.25. Bandara will represent Gloucestershire from July 1 till the end of August. He is expected to try and revive the county's fortunes and improve their dismal record for the season, where they have lost five out of seven matches, and are eighth out of nine teams in the Division I table.

Bandara had an outstanding series for Sri Lanka A against the A teams of England and Pakistan early this year scoring 203 runs and taking 20 wickets in four matches. Since making his Test debut at the age of 18 in 1998, Bandara had been left out in the cold until this year. He worked himself up playing two seasons of league cricket in Surrey for Normandy CC and was subsequently recalled to the A squad where his performance, especially against England A when he took a career-best 8 for 49 at the NCC grounds and helped Sri Lanka A square the two-match series, attracted Gloucestershire who were in the hunt for a replacement if Chandana was recalled home for national duty.

Bandara was expected to extend that form against West Indies A in the upcoming series. However his departure to Gloucester has caused Kaushal Lokuarachchi, another legspinner, to be drafted into the 14-member Sri Lanka A squad for the series, which starts on Thursday with the first four-day unofficial Test at Dambulla.

Lalith Kaluperuma, the chairman of selectors, said that Lokuarachchi was initially overlooked because he was recovering from a shoulder injury. He said that the team physio had given Lokuarachchi the green light to play and that is why he had been included to replace Bandara. Lokuarachchi, 23, who has played in four Tests and 12 ODIs will join Suraj Mohamed, the offspinner, and Sajeeva Weerakoon, the left-arm spinner, forming a three-pronged spin attack against West Indies A.