Sri Lanka selectors head for row with Sports Minister

Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2002, 22:30 [IST]
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Colombo: Sri Lankan selectors were set for a possible showdown with Sports Minister Johnston Fernando over the team picked to tour South Africa next month, officials said on Wednesday.

The selectors had picked a 16-man squad and were awaiting the minister's approval, but he declined to accommodate skipper Sanath Jayasuriya's wish to exclude reserve wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardena.

"We received a communication from the minister on disagreement over selections, but we are determined to stick to our original selections," a spokesman for the panel of selectors said. Cricket sources said skipper Jayasuriya wanted his clubmate and specialist batsman Tillekeratne Dilshan included in the squad in place of Jayawardena.

Skipper Jayasuriya also opted for Kumar Sangakkara to keep wicket, a role played by him only in One-day Internationals in recent times. The selectors banked on pace by naming as many as six new-ball bowlers, including two new faces. The Tests in South Africa will be played from November 8 to 12 in Johannesburg and from November 15 to 19 in Pretoria.

The selectors are expected to name a separate squad for the five One-day Internationals, which would follow the Test matches. Sri Lankans are to treat the tour as a dress rehearsal for the world cup to be played in South Africa in February next year. Sanath Jayasuriya's team will return home to tour Australia in January for the world series triangular before embarking on their World Cup campaign.

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