Cricket: Mendis ousted as Sri Lankans start afresh

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The Independent Online
SRI LANKA'S veteran manager Duleep Mendis has been sacked following the country's poor showing at the World Cup. His dismissal comes on the heels of Arjuna Ranatunga losing the captaincy.

Mendis has been replaced by a low-profile business executive, Chandra Schafter, for next month's triangular tournament with Australia and India as well as the Test series with the Australians in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's new captain, Sanath Jayasuriya, said yesterday he would ban the use of mobile phones by players, even during practice, to help restore some discipline. The players were given free mobile phones by a private company before the World Cup and there has been criticism that some members of the team had become distracted by the gifts.

"It is a big challenge. It is a big task," Jayasuriya said in his first news conference since being named captain. "I think it is not proper to use cellphones even during practice and I am against it."

Jayasuriya said his team was practicing hard for the upcoming tour by Australia and India, which starts in August. He also said he was in favour of keeping the former captain Ranatunga and batsman Aravinda De Silva in the team. Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka's eighth captain since the country got Test-playing status 17 years ago, said he would go back to the free- flowing style that made him such a favourite.

Australian cricket officials are working on a contingency plan in case next year's one-day series against Pakistan and India is affected by the Kashmir crisis.

Despite a slight easing in tensions, with military commanders from the countries agreeing to the withdrawal of Islamic militants from Kashmir over the weekend, the ACB said it wanted to be prepared in case one of the teams withdrew. Rogers also said Australia would proceed with its tour of Sri Lanka next month.