London - If all cricketers dream of playing
at Lord's, Sri Lanka's Kusal Perera has more reason than most to hope he's
selected for Thursday's third Test against England at the spiritual home of the
The 25-year-old endured a potentially
career-ending spell on the sidelines after he was suspended from all cricket
during Sri Lanka's tour of New Zealand last December, when a laboratory in
Qatar, accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said he had produced
a positive result in an out-of-competition test.
Perera tested positive Test for a banned
anabolic steroid, but his lawyers later raised concerns the amounts were so low
that they could have been produced naturally by the body or formed in the
samples after they were submitted.
And last month he was cleared to play again
by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after the laboratory withdrew its
"adverse original finding" and replaced it with an "atypical
finding", and said no further investigation was warranted.
The wicket-keeper/batsman wasn't allowed to
take part in any formal cricket training during his suspension and missed this
year's World Twenty20, but an injury to seamer Dhammika Prasad created a space
in Sri Lanka's tour party.
"They haven't told me if I'm playing
yet," Perera told reporters at Lord's on Tuesday after a training session.
"If I do get to play, it's a great
opportunity to play at Lord's. I was thrown into trouble and to come back from
that at Lord's would be great."
Perera said belief in his own innocence had
helped sustain him in the months he was banned from cricket.
"Even the time I was out of the team I
knew I hadn't done anything wrong," he said.
"I couldn't really think about cricket
much in those months, because my focus was on the problem I was facing. I
didn't have any time to think about whether I was in touch, or whether I could
train, or even what was happening in cricket. I started training after the day
I was cleared.
"I didn't have a lot of centre-wicket
training because of the rain (in Sri Lanka)."
He added: "After six months your body
needs to get used to training again. Your body starts to hurt - but that's
normal. But what I've found is that because I'm coming into it quite fresh, I'm
hitting the ball well, I'm seeing it well."
Sri Lanka are already 2-0 down in the
three-match series, with their batsmen having struggled so far in English
conditions against new-ball duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
But Lord's, where no side has been dismissed
for under 350 in three County Championship matches so far this season, promises
to provide the best batting pitch of the series.
Perera, who could come in for injured
all-rounder Milinda Siriwardana (twisted ankle), said he hoped forecast warmer
temperatures than those the tourists experienced during a nine-wicket defeat in
the second Test at Chester-le-Street would also benefit Sri Lanka later this
"I watched the (England) attack and
it's mostly fast bowlers," he said. "In London the conditions seem
easier, because it must have been very cold in Durham.
"When it's cold you are a bit stiff
and your feet don't work as well. With this weather and given the pitch as well
- which looks like it will be batting-friendly - I think there's a chance for
us to dominate them."