Sri Lankan cricket captain Mahela Jayawardena said yesterday that the absence of veteran batsman Marvan Atapattu, who pulled out from the Bangladesh series, was a disappointment but added it was a blessing in disguise as the occasion would also provide an opportunity for a new face to grab the occasion.
`It`s disappointing but we should know the responsibilities and it is a chance for a new player to prove himself and fill the void (left by Atapattu)`, said Jayawardena at a news conference in Colombo yesterday to mark the launch of the series which begins on June 25.
Jayawardena did not say who could take Atapattu`s place but it is likely that 28-year old uncapped left hand batsman Malinda Warnapura would find himself playing a part in the Test series.
Jayawardena said that he was looking at a long term plan as there is plenty of cricket coming up during the next few months. After the home series against Bangladesh the Sri Lankans will compete in the inaugural Twenty-20 tournament in South Africa followed by a home series against England and a tour to Australia for two test matches in Brisbane and Hobart. Jayawardena said that there would be a lot of cricket this year and the players need to be guided in a proper manner. He said that he will not hesitate to experiment with some of the new players during the Bangladesh series in consultation with the national selectors. The Sri Lankan captain said that there are a few players who are anxiously waiting for a break and they are certain to grab the opportunity with both hands.
Already veteran Sanath Jayasuriya has been kept away from the three test matches but will return to play in the three match one day series. Jayawardena said that his team`s success during the last sixteen months has been due to some real hard work. He said that each player has been able to improve his skills and that has helped them to overcome every challenge on the field. Jayawardena also said that vice captain Kumar Sangakkara will be available for both test and one day series.
Bangladesh`s new captain Mohammad Ashraful said that his team needed to improve a lot in test cricket although they have made steady progress in the shorter version of the game. The last time they toured Sri Lxanka in 2005 they were routed by the home team in both the test and one day series.(C.D)