Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Saturday, 20 February 2010

Sri Lanka's Jayasuriya sets sights on parliament

By Swaminathan Natarajan
BBC Tamil

Sanath Jayasuriya (standing) shakes hands with President Mahinda Rajapaksa (file photo)
Jayasuriya, a left-hander, holds many cricketing records

Sri Lanka's top runscorer in one-day international cricket is going to contest the forthcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for 8 April.

Sanath Jayasuriya, now retired from Test cricket, told the BBC Tamil service he will stand in the southern district of Matara, where he was born.

He will be standing for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Jayasuriya played a key part in Sri Lanka's only World Cup victory in 1996.

Another top Sri Lankan cricketer, World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, stood in the 2005 elections and went on to become a minister. But he fell out of favour with the ruling establishment and is now contesting April's election as an opposition candidate.

'Personal decision'

Sanath Jayasuriya, 40, is standing in Matara district, where he also went to school.

"I know the area well. This place needs development. I am going to help the people," Jayasuriya said.

Since I am not playing Test Cricket, I will have enough time for the politics
Sanath Jayasurya

"I have already campaigned for the president in the last elections. He requested me to contest this election. I thought long about this. Then I have decided to contest. It is a personal decision," he added.

If the voting in the presidential election is anything to go by, the chances of the dashing left-hand batsman winning the election are very high.

Jayasuriya said he would continue to play one-day internationals (ODIs) and in the Indian Premier League.

"Since I am not playing Test Cricket, I will have enough time for the politics".

Jayasuriya holds many cricketing records, including being the only player to have scored over 13,000 runs and capture over 300 wickets in ODIs.

He hopes through the popularity of sport, the Tamil-speaking population of the north and east will be able to connect with the Sinhalese of the south.

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