Sri Lanka players told to get fit or pack their bags
Colombo — The Sri Lankan government on Wednesday warned the national cricket team to get fit in three months or get booted out.
The ultimatum came after the squad were found to be unfit for the series that starts on Friday against Zimbabwe.
"No one has a satisfactory level of fitness, but I made an exception this time," Sport Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said.
Players are selected by an independent panel for the national team, but the sports minister must give final approval before they can represent the country.
Jayasekara said no member of the 13-man squad had met required international fitness standards and noted that high levels of injuries were due to poor endurance.
Only two players — Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Madushanka — scored high marks in the "yo-yo" endurance test which is mainly running against the clock. Three other tests were also carried out.
Controversial fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who weighs 80kg, failed one test and barely scraped through the rest.
"Malinga has suffered recurring injuries partly because of the poor fitness," a source said.
He was slapped with a fine of 50% of his match fee for Friday’s game and given a six-month suspended match-ban for comparing Jayasekara to a "monkey" and saying the minister knew nothing about cricket.
The Sri Lankan board held an inquiry after Malinga publicly lambasted Jayasekara who had said many players were too fat following their failure to reach the Champions Trophy semi-finals recently.
The typical body fat for a cricketer was 16%, but most Sri Lankan players had more than 26%, Jayasekara said. He warned that any player with more than 16% would not be allowed to represent the country.
Sri Lanka Cricket said that Malinga had apologised and also pleaded guilty to violating his contract with the board which precluded players from making public statements.