SLC allows Senanayake to play domestic cricket
Sachithra Senanayake has been green-lighted to play in Sri Lanka's Mercantile Cricket tournament, after Sri Lanka Cricket analysed a report by the experts with whom the offspinner reworked his action.
The board said "Sachithra has shown tremendous improvement" following the week-long remedial work he undertook alongside human movement specialist Daryl Foster at the University of Western Australia in Perth but was unwilling to indicate whether the flex in his elbow had been brought to within the 15-degree legal limit.
Senanayake had undergone several rounds of biomechanical testing aimed at providing a scientific indication on his progress, during and after the remedial work in Perth. The reports generated from these tests specify the flexion in his elbow at each stage of the remedial process. The ICC test that had originally had Senanayake banned from international cricket showed him flexing his elbow as much as 43 degrees.
"Even if the flexion has been given to us [in the University of Western Australia report], it is something which we cannot share with anybody," board CEO Ashley de Silva said. "They have done post-remedial testing. We are happy with the results of the post-testing."
SLC said that Senanayake's remedial work was ongoing under the supervision of local coaches, but appeared hopeful that he will be cleared to return to international cricket soon. An official release said: "SLC will coordinate with ICC on the date of his retesting in the near future."
The board's cricket operations manager Carlton Bernardus did not set down a timeline for Senanayake's international return, but said SLC would look to act quickly. "He's one of our assets, so we need to get him back fast," Bernardus said. "He will be monitored during the domestic matches, when he plays. He will be recorded. We want to see him not only in the nets but also on the playing field. We have the opportunity of going for a second test. We need to be confident. That is the confidence we're trying to place in the player, by putting him on field."
There are disincentives for rushing a player back to international cricket too soon. If Senanayake is cleared to play international cricket again, and is once more reported and found guilty of contravening the legal limits of flexion within two years of his original suspension, he will be suspended from bowling in international cricket for a minimum of one year.
The Mercantile one-day matches do not hold List A status, but are a major fixture in Sri Lanka's domestic calendar. Although Senanayake's action has not yet been officially cleared, the ICC's guidelines on bowlers reported for suspect actions state that "a player that has been suspended from international cricket… shall be permitted to continue playing domestic cricket [under the supervision and consent of his home board]".
Senanayake had been instrumental to Sri Lanka's limited overs success in 2014, and had been particularly effective in the World T20 and the ODI series in England. The World Cup in February is the obvious target for his return, but Sri Lanka also have seven-match ODI series against England and New Zealand in the interim.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando