SL selectors forced to name preliminary squad
Sri Lanka's selectors are incensed at having had to name a preliminary squad for the tours of Ireland and the UK, six weeks before the first match is scheduled, due to the length of the visa process. The UK government requires 15 working days to grant visas for Sri Lankan citizens, with the Irish government needing a similar timespan.
SLC announced a 26-man preliminary squad on Tuesday, but chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya said the length of the visa process put Sri Lanka at a disadvantage. The squad was named while both Sri Lanka's campaign at the World Twenty20, and the domestic first-class season, were ongoing.
"I would have much preferred to wait until the World T20 and Premier League finished, but unfortunately we can't do that," he said. "The visa process is so long, we are going through a difficult time as a selection committee. The board says we have to send a list of 26 players, and we are trying to pick the best possible players, but sometimes we might miss one or two players.
"With the public holidays we will have next month, it will be the first week of May before our players get their visas - that's just before they are scheduled to leave. This is the latest we could have left it."
Almost all cricketers in the preliminary squad would make the trip, Jayasuriya said, but he left leeway for a small number of players to either be added to or removed from the final list. There are few surprises in the pool, which does not distinguish between formats. Jehan Mubarak's omission from the national squad provides the only real point of contention, after he struck 1134 runs at an average of 103.09 in 15 first-class innings this year.
Ashan Priyanjan, Chaturanga de Silva and Kithuruwan Vithanage, who have all featured in the national side over the past two months, have been named, but batsman Angelo Perera does not find a place. Fast bowler Vishwa Fernando, who had been on Test tours to the UAE and Bangladesh, also features in the squad.
SLC simultaneously announced a preliminary squad for the A team tour to Ireland and the UK, which begins in mid-July. That team will be led by Upul Tharanga, who also captained the home tour against the England Lions in February. Mubarak has been named in that squad, and there is a chance Test opener Dimuth Karunaratne will also play for the A team, as he did against the Lions. Offspinner Tharindu Kaushal, however, has not been included in the squad. He has 39 wickets at 23.30 this season.
The national team begins its tour in Europe on May 6, with the first of two ODIs against Ireland. They will also then play a T20 international, five ODIs and two Tests against England.
Sri Lanka preliminary squad: Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dimuth Karunarante, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Prasanna Jayawardene, Ashan Priyanjan, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Chaturanga de Silva, Seekkuge Prasanna, Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Sachithra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Dhammika Prasad, Shaminda Eranga, Nuwan Pradeep, Vishwa Fernando
A team preliminary squad: Upul Tharanga, Udara Jayasundera, Niroshan Dickwella, Dimuth Karunaratne, Jehan Mubarak, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Rumesh Buddika, Angelo Perera, Asela Gunaratna, Ashan Priyanjan, Suraj Randiv, Seekkuge Prasanna, Ramith Rambukwella, Sachith Pathirana, Chaminda Bandara, Ishan Jayaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Charith Jayampathi, Dhammika Prasad, Vishwa Fernando, Lahiru Gamage, Mahela Udawatte
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here