LONDON: For someone who has spent six agonising months on the sidelines battling doping allegations, Sri Lankan Kusal Perera cannot think of a better place for his return than the hallowed turf of Lord´s in the third and final test against England on Thursday.
The 25-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman was sent home from the tour of New Zealand in December after it was announced he had failed a drugs test last July.
He was cleared last month when the International Cricket Council (ICC) dropped all charges against him after the Qatar-based laboratory that conducted the test withdrew its initial findings.
Perera was not allowed to train with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) coaches and was called up in England only after a shoulder injury had ended paceman Dhammika Prasad´s tour.
“I haven´t been told if I´m playing yet but I was thrown into trouble and to come back from that at Lord´s would be a great opportunity,” Kusal told reporters at Lord´s after practice on Tuesday.
“I was banned just before a test, so to return in this format would be fitting.
Even the time I was out of the team I knew I hadn´t done anything wrong.
But these things can happen in life.
“Perera, who has played three tests and 51 one-dayers, admitted he arrived in England undercooked, having barely trained before a series he did not expect to be involved in.
“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 the day after I was cleared.
Before then I didn´t do much batting — just some fitness work.
“Perera, however, felt he was fresh and striking the ball well, which might help his team salvage some pride after batting collapses in Leeds and Chester-le-Street helped the hosts open an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
“I watched the attack and it´s mostly fast bowlers,” he said of England´s bowlers.
“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.”