Sri Lanka wicketkeeper-batsman Kusal Perera has tested positive for a banned substance and has been recalled from the New Zealand tour, Sri Lanka Cricket said in a release on Monday. Perera's sample was provided for a random test by the ICC in the recent home series against Pakistan. Kaushal Silva will replace Perera in the squad for the New Zealand tour. The first Test starts on December 10.
In its release, SLC said that it would take all steps required by the ICC to have a further sample tested and "make every endeavor" to enable Perera to resume playing cricket at the earliest opportunity in compliance with the ICC's regulations. Perera had been picked in all three squads for the tour.
An ICC spokesperson said Perera had been "provisionally suspended" pending the outcome of the disciplinary process to be followed under the ICC's Anti-Doping Code.
"The ICC can confirm that Mr Kusal Perera has been charged by the ICC with an anti-doping rule violation pursuant to the ICC Anti-Doping Code after a sample he provided was found to contain a Prohibited Substance," the spokesperson said, adding that the ICC will offer no further comment on the matter until the disciplinary process is resolved.
Neither the ICC nor SLC have confirmed what the banned substance is.
The ICC had served Perera with a Notice of Charge on Monday, and Perera now has 14 days in which to request a hearing before an independent three-person Anti-Doping Tribunal. According to the ICC's Anti-Doping Code, a player who fails to file a written request for a hearing before that 14-day deadline "shall have been deemed to have admitted that he/she has committed the anti-doping rule violation(s) specified in the Notice of Charge" and to have accepted the consequences specified in that Notice of Charge.
Perera also has the right to request that a laboratory analyse an unopened and untested B sample, in order to "confirm the [ICC's findings] in respect of the A Sample". Both samples are taken from the player at the same time.
Perera had been Sri Lanka's top scorer in the ODI leg of the Pakistan tour during which - according to SLC - the positive sample had been given. He hit a 17-ball fifty in the second ODI, and struck 116 from 109 balls in the fifth, to end the series with 230 runs at an average of 46. He had not been in the playing XI during the Test series, and was less effective in the two T20 matches.
His suspension is the second major blow to Sri Lanka's tour of New Zealand, after Dhammika Prasad was sent home due to injury over the weekend. Perera's absence will weaken an already-inexperienced Sri Lanka batting order, and will force either Dinesh Chandimal or 20-year-old Kusal Mendis to take the gloves.
Perera's replacement, Silva, can also keep wickets, but has largely batted in the top order in the past, and is less likely to be designated wicketkeeper. At any rate, Silva only lands in New Zealand on Wednesday - on the eve of the first Test.