Sri Lanka’s thrust towards new tidings undergoing a further beefing up with the last minute call up of young stand out left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama in a selector shake up gamble on new brooms in all-rounders Dhananjaya Lakshan, Ishan Jayaratne and Charith Asalanka to its new look squad sounds out the tip of the iceberg challenge the former world cup champions carry to the tough England frontier of getting past the reigning world cup champions in three ODIs, and three T20s. Certainly the entry of Jayawickrama, who burst into the limelight with an all-time debut record breaking 11 wicket haul in test cricket, is indeed value addition going by the early promise the youngster has displayed where he could be in the frontline in altogether different English climes which is the ideal ground for a bowler of his caliber to deliver.
In a pointed new draught of air in a clear departure from a hitherto long conventional policy of placing faith on past player laurels that has seen several heads roll such as Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal in particular, fronting the brunt of it is new skipper Kusal Janith Perera who did anoint himself as a daring captain in his maiden assignment by his match winning century in an admirable last spurt from the depths of a lost ODI series to Bangladesh.
Indeed, it will be the blooding ground of a hugely different cast in a departure from stereotype old brooms that sees a further accentuation on new talent from the squad that toured Bangladesh that resonates on an evident rebuilding instant cricket curve. It will certainly be a sword edged challenge to the Lankans in harsh English frontier from the familiar sub-continent against a highly rampant England in both forms of the game notwithstanding that Sri Lanka will be taking on the world one-day champions.
Sri Lanka’s challenge for the spoils against the English in their own den whose instant cricket in both forms have galloped in leaps and bounds is indeed reflected by an altogether new robing to the cast fronted by Kusal Janith Perera. While there are several faces who have done duty in the recent past with the recall of consistent opening batsman Avishka Fernando, and drafting of promising left-hander Oshada Fernand, recent finds such as Wanindu Hasaranga, Pathum Nissanka, Ramesh Mendis and and Shiran Fernando lends to the accentuation on new brooms to create the much sought change where Sri Lanka’s ODI standings have taken battering placed 12th.
While reflectively, in a strictly cricketing sense one cannot but feel for a player like Dinesh Chandimal who apparently got a raw deal starting from his axing for the last cricket world cup and cast into the wilderness from all forms of the game before a brief recall where he does boast of a pedigree of a player of repute who was just getting the feel of things when he got the chop again, certainly it is the break for the new to make the grade. Call ups such as utility player, 31-year old Ishan Jayaratne, who has long staked claims for a call up by his domestic performances as has 22-year old Dhananjaya Lakshan, and Charith Asalanka, who has been pressing for recognition by performances at lower international rungs, are in that line-up for the big break to international cricket. Similarly, noteworthy is the recall of Nuwan Pradeep. What’s inspiring to the clarion call are some potential match winners in skipper Kusal Janith, Dhanushka Gunathilaka, who has it in him to bludgeon any opposition on his day, Avishka Fernando creating many selection options upfront while certainly Jayawickrama and Hasaranga belong to a rare genre of turning a game on its head. Jayawickrama for his tricky spin and Hasaranga as a late order pinch hitter.
The tour will kick off with Sri Lanka playing a One-Day practice match against Kent on June 18 and T20 warm-up against Sussex on June 20.
SRI LANKA SQUAD:
Kusal Perera (c), Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Chamika Karunaratne, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ramesh Mendis, Lakshan Sandakan, Akila Dananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera, Isuru Udana, Binura Fernando, Nuwan Pradeep, Shiran Fernando, Praveen Jayawickrama, Asitha Fernando and Ishan Jayaratne.
June 18: One Day Practice match at Canterbury
June 20: T20 Practice match at Hove
June 23: First T20I at Cardiff
June 24: Second T20I at Cardiff
June 26: Third T20I at Southampton
June 29: First ODI at Durham
July 1: Second ODI at London
July 4: Third ODI at Bristol