Moody guarded over Jayasuriya return

Published: Friday, May 12, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody gave a cautious welcome to the prospect of veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya coming out of Test retirement to join the squad ahead of this month's second Test against England.

"Jayasuriya indicated a willingness to make himself available for Test cricket again and we decided to send him to England as soon as possible," Sri Lanka's chief selector Asantha de Mel said in Colombo.

"I understand he's coming here in the next few days," said Moody after seeing England score 318 for three on the first day of the first Test at Lord's.

"But my focus right now is on the squad of players I've got here.

"Sanath's obviously had some deep thought about his decision to retire. If he's fit and back in form, it can't be a bad thing can it?," Moody said of the 36-year-old former captain.

"He's a devastating player, he has been for Sri Lanka for many, many years. He's obviously still a very key component to our One-day campaign and he was due here anyway in two or three weeks' time for the One-dayers.

"Him coming early, the positive is that he's going to get used to English conditions a little bit earlier for the One-day series if not before then."

De Mel, who replaced Lalith Kaluperuma as chairman of the selection committee last week, blamed his predecessor for forcing left-hander Jayasuriya out of Test matches and the build-up to the Lord's match had been overshadowed by talk of his return to the five-day game.

"I had a talk with the team management in England and they told me they were toying with the idea of opening the innings with Tilan Samaraweera, who is essentially a middle-order batsman," De Mel added.

"If Samaraweera is pushed into opening and if he fails, his career would be at the crossroads."

Upul Thuranga and Jehan Mubarak were Sri Lanka's listed openers at Lord's after Michael Vandort was dropped after bagging a pair in the tourists' final warm-up match, a 10-wicket defeat by England A, last week.

Jayasuriya has scored 6,613 runs in 102 Tests with 14 centuries. He is also the fourth batsman to have scored 10,000 runs in One-day Internationals after India's Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, and Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq.

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