There were quite a few notable absentees when Sri Lanka got down to some serious batting practice against a youthful Sussex XI here yesterday. Among them Sanath Jayasuriya.
The indications are, despite all the fuss of flying Jayasuriya over to join up with the squad, that he will play no part in the final two Tests of the series.
Jayasuriya had retired from Test cricket six weeks ago, when the opener learned that he was unlikely to feature in the Test squad for the tour of England.
But shortly before the start of the first Test last week, Asantha de Mel, the Sri Lanka chairman of selectors, insisted that the 36-year-old Jayasuriya fly out to join the squad - against the wishes of the coach Tom Moody - and he arrived last Sunday.
It had been widely expected that he would take part in this match, but within 24 hours of his arrival in this country, things had changed.
On Monday, it transpired that De Mel had stormed out of a cricket committee meeting after coming under fire from its members - the majority of whom are former Sri Lanka captains.
That left Moody and his three fellow selectors in a position of strength and certainly with a licence to pick the team they want.
Moody had an explanation for the selection of every batsman in this match - none of them Jayasuriya. But the Australian insisted: "The only thing you can read into this selection is that we are trying to give as many of our batsmen an opportunity to gain valuable time out in the middle." But, referring to the Sri Lanka board and De Mel, he added: "We haven't had any indication that they wish him to play or not. The wish was that he joins the squad.
"He is very much part of the selection process into the second and third Tests and he is here to acclimatise himself in preparation for the one-day series. If we feel the balance is right come the second Test, he'll come into consideration."
Given the way that Upul Tharanga and Michael Vandort batted against a Sussex team minus eight regulars, Jayasuriya will find it tough to break back into the side.
Tharanga, 21, scored his second hundred of the tour, over five and a half hours, and although fellow opener Jehan Mubarak did not cover himself in glory, Vandort made a patient contribution to the cause, sharing in a second-wicket stand of 113 with Tharanga.
Tharanga's century was laced with some fine cover drives and emphatic shots off his legs as he amassed 18 boundaries. As for Sussex, the youngsters toiled valiantly, but vainly. Mark Robinson, Sussex's director of cricket, explained that with the squad having to spend the next 26 days from Monday either playing or on the road, key players needed a break.
Moody supported him. "I understand the problems that counties face when it comes to tourists. It is a good opportunity for younger players but now, in the position I am in, it is always nice to play against the best opposition and unfortunately we are not faced with a huge amount of experience out there."Reuse content