Sanath Jayasuriya has received another blow after being left out of the 20 players Sri Lanka Cricket offered central contracts for the current year. Muttiah Muralitharan, who will retire from Tests at the end of the first game against India at Galle on July 22, has been retained in the top category.
Jayasuriya, 41, who became a permanent fixture in the Sri Lanka side after playing a key role in the 1996 World Cup, found himself dropped from the list. The veteran of 110 Tests and 444 ODIs has stated that he would like to play until the 2011 World Cup before finally calling it quits. However, his recent batting form has been poor. In the World Twenty20 in the West Indies he averaged only 3.75 from six matches and in his last six ODI matches his highest score was 31.
"We had discussions over the last few weeks with senior players, Sri Lanka Cricket, selectors and team management to try and put a value on the national contracts," Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors Aravinda de Silva said. "In that regard we decided we will try and reduce the number of national contracted players to 20 rather than have one of over 30 which are currently in existence. We felt that having that number of players will give us the cream to be signed up on a contract for the national squad.
"The contracts are worked out on the previous year's performances and in Sanath's case, since he had not performed up to expectations, we decided to leave him out. We also allowed him to go to England and play some county cricket to see how he performs. As I've said before we haven't let either Chaminda Vaas or Muralitharan out of our minds for the World Cup."
de Silva said that when the contracts were done and due to be signed in March no one knew that Muralitharan was going to retire. "To be fair by Murali he mentioned to us that we could leave him out of the contract and consider him only for the one-dayers if we require him, which I have basically from our side told him that we definitely require him for the World Cup," de Silva said. "We will evaluate the contract matter with Murali once we have a chat with him. He will have to remain because he will definitely be part of the World Cup campaign."
The two newcomers to the central contracts are off-spinner Suraj Randiv and batsman Dinesh Chandimal who have been placed in Category Six. Sri Lanka's captain Kumar Sangakkara, Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera occupy the top category.
The other contracted players are: Nuwan Kulasekara (Category Two), Angelo Mathews (Category Three), Upul Tharanga, Thilan Thushara, Rangana Herath, Prasanna Jayawardene, Ajantha Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Lasith Malinga, Thilina Kandamby (Category Four), Dilhara Fernando, Chanaka Welagedara, Tharanga Paranavitana (Category Five).