By Channaka de Silva
Legendary Sanath Jayasuriya will make a welcome return to the Sri Lanka T20 and One Day International fold as the national selectors picked the former Sri Lanka captain yesterday to join the squad for the series against England starting on June 25 with aT20 at Bristol. The series also features five ODIs against England and one ODI each against Ireland and Scotland.
The exciting left hander who has thrilled the crowds around the world with his explosive stroke play, returns to Sri Lanka team after a one-and-a half year absence, having last represented the country in December 2009 against India at Delhi.
The experienced left hander who turns 42 on June 30, has established a plethora of World records in a 22-year international career that began in 1989, and played a major role in Sri Lanka’s rise as one of the strongest forces in world cricket, during a crucial transition period.
“I am doing my training as seriously as I’ve ever done in my career and my fitness levels are as good as I’ve been at 18. I am prepared always and am confident of what I can do” Jayasuriya told “Daily Mirror” in an exclusive interview on Monday.
Jayasuriya who has been in great form in the recent domestic Provincial limited overs tournament emerging as the highest scorer was unfortunate to miss out on a place in the Sri Lanka’s World Cup squad, but looked a certainty after left hand opener Upul Tharanga had to be left out of consideration for selection due to an alleged doping offence.
Following Sri Lanka’s swashbuckling captain Tillakaratne Dilshan sustaining a hairline fracture in his thumb during the second Test that finished at Lord’s on Tuesday, Jayasuriya became the obvious choice as the first opener yesterday.National selectors have picked 16 players for the tour squad including all rounder Angelo Mathews subject to fitness.
Interestingly the selectors have opted to include another left handed opener in the squad Dimuth Karunaratne. The 23 year old SSC opener has come through the ranks of Sri Lanka Under 19 team and is incidentally the third player in the squad to come from St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. The promising youngster has been in terrific form right through the recent domestic competitions.
Selectors have also made a sensational decision to appoint left hander Thilina Kandamby as the Vice Captain of the team while all rounder although Kumar Sangakkara acts as deputy to Dilshan in the test series. Jeewan Mendis has also been selected while dropping Tilan Samaraweera in a move which is likely to give a new look to the Sri Lankan middle order. Mendis, who represents Tamil Union was adjudged the player of the tournament in the recent domestic tournament and has been a proven talent in the local scene.
Pace ace Lasith Malinga who retired from test cricket last month has retained his place in the ODI squad while seamer Nuwan Kulasekara has also retained his place.
Apart from Samaraweera, Farveez Maharoof, Suranga Lakmal, Ajantha Mendis, Chanaka Welagedara and Tharanga Paranavithana who are currently in England for the Test series will return home.
Sri Lanka Squad for the ODI and T20 series against England : Tillakaratne Dilshan (Captain), Thilina Kandamby (Vice Captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Jeewan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando.