Sri Lanka fast bowler Suranga Lakmal signs for Derbyshire after announcing international retirement



Sri Lanka fast bowler to be reunited with former national coach Mickey Arthur

Suranga Lakmal has signed a two-year deal with Derbyshire, where he will be reunited with his former national coach Mickey Arthur, after announcing that he will be retiring from all forms of international cricket following Sri Lanka’s upcoming tour of India.
Lakmal, the 34-year old fast bowler, did his best work in Test cricket, having so far picked up 168 wickets from 68 matches. One-hundred-and-thirty of them came away from home.

“I’m indebted to Sri Lanka Cricket for giving me this astonishing opportunity and having faith in me to bring my motherland honour, as it has been [an] absolute pleasure to be associated with the board that shaped my professional life and also enriched my personal development,” he said in his retirement letter submitted to Sri Lanka Cricket.

Arthur, who joined Derbyshire as director of cricket late last year, praised Lakmal’s attributes as a bowler and a leader in welcoming him to the club.

“Suranga is among Sri Lanka’s all-time greats with the ball and it’s brilliant to be able to bring him to Derbyshire for the next two seasons,” he said. “We have big ambitions for the project at Derbyshire, and Suranga’s decision to retire from international cricket and commit to the club shows he’s as excited about those plans as the other players and coaches.

“He knows my standards and can set the example for our young players on and off the field, and to add his quality to our ranks gives us a whole new dimension with the ball.”

Lakmal added: “Experiencing county cricket is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and the chance to work with Mickey again was something I couldn’t turn down.

“I’ve loved every second of my international career, and I would like to thank Sri Lanka for giving me the opportunity to live my dream. Hopefully I can bring that experience into this new challenge, to help the young bowlers, who are already making an impact at Derbyshire.”

The spin-friendly conditions in Sri Lanka often pushed him into the sidelines, but on tour, Lakmal’s ability to hold a line and length over long periods of time and his knack for moving the ball both off the pitch and in the air made him an important asset. So far, he has a five-for in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and the West Indies. His away average, accordingly, is an entire 15 points lower than his home average, even though his record in five Tests in England, 12 wickets at 51.83 between 2011 and 2016, bucks that trend.

Lakmal has also captained Sri Lanka in five Tests, winning three of them – two against South Africa during the home series in 2018.
In the last six years, Lakmal has been Sri Lanka’s seam-bowling spearhead. He has contributed to several excellent results during that time, taking 4 for 39 in the second innings to set up victory in Port Elizabeth in 2019, 3 for 25 in the second innings to fashion a win in Bridgetown the previous year, and a match haul of 7 for 119 as Sri Lanka struggled late to draw a rain-affected match in Kolkata in 2017. Since 2018, he has been especially consistent, taking 72 wickets and averaging overall 24.73 across the next four years, and 22.61 away from home.

However, he departs without a real successor in place. Dushmantha Chameera has been good in limited-overs cricket, but has not been a regular member of the Test squad partly owing to fitness concerns. Lahiru Kumara and Vishwa Fernando have also only made sporadic appearances in the Test team.

Lakmal made his debut for Sri Lanka in December 2009 and largely performed a holding role in limited-overs cricket, picking up 109 wickets from 86 ODIs and eight wickets from 11 T20Is.


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