Atapattu yet to regain fitness April 7, 2006

Vaas declared fit to tour England



Sri Lanka would be relieved to have the services of Chaminda Vaas for the England tour © Getty Images

Chaminda Vaas, Sri Lanka's premier fast bowler, has been declared fit to tour England later this month, according to Tommy Simsek, the Sri Lanka team physio. However, questions marks remained on the fitness of Marvan Atapattu, the captain, and Ruchira Perera, the left-arm fast bowler. All three players missed out on the recently concluded home series against Pakistan due to injury.

Vaas suffered a strain on his left side, but Simsek confirmed that he had begun to bowl with his full run up and was back to full fitness. Simsek said that Atapattu had got a big disc bulge and would require more time to assess his recovery, while Perera has yet to recover from a recurring hamstring injury.

"With time the bulge becomes a little smaller and the pressure on the nerve ceases. He [Atapattu] is presently undergoing treatment for it and we are hoping it will be successful. But there is no guarantee," Simsek told the Daily News. "This happens to people between the ages of 50-60 but in Marvan's case it is due to wear and tear. He is improving slowly, but if he doesn't respond to the treatment he may need surgery. We should get a better picture of his condition within the next couple of weeks.

"Ruchira needs to rehabilitate the injury very thoroughly. He is getting better but is not 100 percent fit. He might have to pass a fitness test by early next week."

Lalith Kaluperuma, the chairman of selectors, said that he expected a report on the injuries from Simsek on Monday, the day the selection committee is expected to meet to pick a 16-man squad for the three-Test series against England. He said a separate squad would be picked for the five one-day internationals that follow the Tests. The Test series starts at Lord's on May 11 followed by the one-day series also starting at Lord's from June 17.

Kaluperuma said that in the case of Atapattu, they would leave their options open until at least April 16 to ascertain his fitness. The team is due to leave for England on April 19.

In Atapattu's absence Mahela Jayawardene led the team in the series against Pakistan where Sri Lanka lost 0-2 in the one-dayers and 0-1 in the Tests.

With Sanath Jayasuriya announcing his retirement from Test cricket at the end of the Pakistan series, Sri Lanka may find themselves going to England with a totally inexperienced opening pair. Those in the running, apart from Atapattu, are Upul Tharanga, Jehan Mubarak, Michael van Dort and Ian Daniel.

Farveez Maharoof, Sri Lanka's young allrounder, is also recovering from a chest infection, which troubled him during the second innings of the second Test at Kandy. Simsek said that Maharoof was on antibiotics and that he was recovering well.

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