Tour Summary

Sri Lanka A in England, 2004


When Jehan Mubarak's Sri Lanka A side arrived at Taunton for the last game of their month-long trip, they must have believed they would return home undefeated. Of their nine previous games, they had won eight and drawn just one, against the touring West Indians. Somerset, not the strongest county in the land, had rested almost all their familiar names, including the most famous of the lot: Ricky Ponting was sightseeing in Paris with his wife. But Sri Lanka A came a cropper against a Somerset side mainly of a similar age to themselves, and left for home with their tails between their legs. Or possibly not: rumour had it that the Taunton umpires reported the Sri Lankans to Lord's for persistent dissent.

Despite the intensity the Sri Lankans showed during their cricket, this visit by an overseas A side seemed to sink lower on the radar screen than most. The problems were not new: weak county sides, almost always resting their biggest names, played tired cricket in echoing grounds. And it wasn't just the counties who were dissatisfied.

Michael Tissera, who turned out for Sri Lanka in the 1975 World Cup and now managed their A side, bemoaned the preponderance of one-day games. Because the tour coincided with the Twenty20 Cup for its first fortnight or more, counties were not prepared to lurch back into four-day mode for the benefit of the visitors. The result was a rapid succession of seven limited-overs games which, to their credit, Sri Lanka A won with great efficiency.

Tissera, by reputation something of a disciplinarian, had demanded full commitment from the touring side: "It doesn't mean that you go to England, see all your friends, have a ball, play the odd match and come back. Those days are gone." And Tissera seemed pleased with what he got. Speaking at the end of the tour, he singled out Stan Nell, the newly appointed Australian coach, for praise: "Stan did a superb job as coach. He was very professional, very aggressive and he had that real Australian approach.''

Given that a major aim of the tour was for three batsmen to hit form before the Asia Cup, the Sri Lankan management had every right to be satisfied. The three - Avishka Gunawardene, Saman Jayantha and Thilina Kandamby - flew home after the Sussex game with a stack of runs to their names. Gunawardene started with three successive fifties, Jayantha peaked with a commanding unbeaten 147 against Worcestershire, while Kandamby seemed keen to teach his hosts a thing or two about the Twenty20. Against Glamorgan, his undefeated 40 came off 20 balls. The bowling was tight if not especially penetrative, though in the first-class victory at Swansea, the 19-year-old off-spinner Mohamed Suraj enjoyed first-innings figures of five for 40. The leg-spinners Bathiya Perera and Kaushal Lokuarachchi arguably had more success with the bat than the ball.

Match reports for

Tour Match: British Universities v Sri Lanka A at Leicester, Jun 30, 2004
Scorecard

Yorkshire v Sri Lanka A at Leeds, Jul 3, 2004
Scorecard

Tour Match: Durham v Sri Lanka A at Chester-le-Street, Jul 5, 2004
Scorecard

Worcestershire v Sri Lanka A at Worcester, Jul 7, 2004
Scorecard

Tour Match: Glamorgan v Sri Lanka A at Cardiff, Jul 9, 2004
Scorecard

Sussex v Sri Lanka A at Hove, Jul 12, 2004
Scorecard

Kent v Sri Lanka A at Canterbury, Jul 14, 2004
Scorecard

Tour Match: Sri Lanka A v West Indians at Shenley, Jul 17-19, 2004
Scorecard

Tour Match: Glamorgan v Sri Lanka A at Swansea, Jul 21-24, 2004
Scorecard

Somerset v Sri Lanka A at Taunton, Jul 27-30, 2004
Scorecard

© John Wisden & Co