COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, April 20 – Sri Lanka were forced Wednesday to leave out star fast bowler Lasith Malinga while also naming four uncapped players for the 16-member Test squad for the tour of England.
Sri Lanka play three Tests, five one-dayers and one Twenty20 international during the tour starting on May 14.
Malinga, who last played a Test in August last year, was in top form during the recent World Cup and is currently taking part in the Indian Premier League (IPL), where he is turning out for Mumbai Indians.
Chief selector Duleep Mendis said they had been left with no choice but to leave out the 27-year-old.
"It looks a bit awkward for us when Lasith writes and tells us he is injured and can’t play Tests, but continues to bowl well in the IPL," Mendis told reporters.
"Lasith is our key fast bowler. We have written and asked him to return home immediately to begin rehabilitation."
The colourful Malinga, who has pierced eyebrows, bleached blond locks and a distinctive slingshot bowling style, has taken 101 wickets in 30 Tests in a seven-year career.
A five-member selection panel gave Test call-ups to Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera and Nuwan Pradeep, all of whom are yet to play in Tests.
"Thirimanne and Chandimal are promising young batsmen who have already played one-day games," Mendis said.
The squad includes four fast bowlers in Dilhara Fernando, Chanaka Welegedara, Suranga Lakmal and Pradeep.
"Fernando is the most exposed fast bowler out of the lot. The others are being tried out to gain experience of bowling on fast English wickets," Mendis said.
Seamer Nuwan Kulasekara, who played in Sri Lanka’s previous Test series against West Indies, was also left out of the squad, which will be led by new captain Tillakaratne Dilshan.
Angelo Mathews, widely tipped to get the vice-captaincy role, was not considered due to fitness concerns.
Sri Lanka Test squad: Tillakaratne Dilshan (captain), Tharanga Paranavitana, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal, Prasanna Jayawardene (wicket-keeper), Thisara Perera, Suraj Randiv, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath, Dilhara Fernando, Chanaka Welegedara, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep.