Having been left out of Sri Lanka’s recent one-day excursions, including series defeats against England, New Zealand and South Africa, Suranga Lakmal could have been forgiven for believing that his time as an international white-ball player might be up.
However, with Sri Lanka mustering just a single victory in that time – a comprehensive win against England in their final ODI, the veteran seamer finds himself back in the fold.
Lakmal is a curious figure; though by no means feted to the same degree as some of his more illustrious predecessors, only Chaminda Vaas has taken more Test wickets than Lakmal of any Sri Lankan seamer.
Few in the current setup have been through more during their international careers. First included in a national squad for the 2008 tour of Pakistan, he suffered minor injuries as the squad’s bus was attacked by terrorists.
Since then, however, it has been his reliability as much as his potency that has seen him become such a fundamental part of his national side.
Indeed, he captained Sri Lanka to a 2-0 Test victory over South Africa in 2018 – the precursor to the Kusal Perera-inspired return triumph in early 2019, while he was a squad member during the 2014 World T20 triumph.
In 2010, he made history in dismissing Chris Gayle with the first ball ever bowled in Test cricket at the Pallekele International Stadium. He would join Kapil Dev and Imran Khan in taking a wicket with the first delivery at a Test venue.
At just 32 years old, it feels wrong to look at Lakmal as an old-stager. Yet, in a World Cup squad full of surprises, his experience – both good and bad – may be more important than ever.
Welcome to www.thecricketer.com - the online home of the world’s oldest cricket magazine. Breaking news, interviews, opinion and cricket goodness from every corner of our beautiful sport, from village green to national arena.