Jayasuriya denies President behind Test return

Published: Sunday, May 14, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Sanath Jayasuriya has insisted the President of Sri Lanka played no role in his decision to end his retirement from Test cricket.

The 36-year-old former Sri Lanka captain, who arrived in England on Saturday, could only watch from beyond the boundary at Lord's while his erstwhile team-mates followed-on in the first Test after being bowled out for just 192 in reply to England's first innings 551 for six declared.

It is less than a month since Jayasuriya said he was quitting Test cricket in order to concentrate on One-day internationals in the build-up to next year's World Cup in the Caribbean.

But he insisted his decision to make himself available again for the five-day game was down to newly-appointed chairman of selectors Asantha De Mel and not Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

"Asantha de Mel is the chairman of selectors and he was the one who contacted me," Jayasuriya said.

"He was the one who changed my mind, and after discussions with various people involved in my career I thought if the team and my country need me then my services are available."

Jayasuriya said Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody was fully supportive of his change of heart even though the former Australia international appeared to have played little role in his decision.

"I had a long discussion with Tom and explained I wanted to return and he was alright" said Jayasuriya.

And his longstanding team-mate Kumar Sangakkara also backed his decision to re-enter the Test arena.

"Decisions are made for everyone's benefit. For him to come out of retirement he would have thought himself that his career was not yet over and he probably thought he did not finish it the way he wanted to," the wicket-keeper explained after Saturday's close.

"The selectors have definitely thought he belongs here on the tour with us to give us that much more experience, that much more ability to work with," added Sangakkara with Sri Lanka 183 for three in their second innings - still 176 runs behind.

"He's been up in the dressing room and he's very fresh and very eager to get on with what he's come here for."

Jayasuriya is set to play in Sri Lanka's next match, a four-day game against Sussex at Hove starting on Thursday.

"Come next week and the next game we'll see how he goes and how our plans fit in with his," added Sangakkara.

Meanwhile Jayasuriya was uncertain if he would play in the second Test of the three-match series, due to get underway at Edgbaston on May 25.

"I'm here to play the next tour match and we'll have to see how it goes from there," Jayasuriya explained.

"I haven't played the longer version of the game for a few months now and I will need to settle in here because conditions are different."

However, with opener Jehan Mubarak managing just nought and six at Lord's, Jayasuriya could be back in Test action sooner than he thought.

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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