Kusal Perera © AFP
Kusal Perera © AFP

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 game. 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. Full Cricket Scorecard: England vs Sri Lanka 2016, 3rd test at Lord’s

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 wicketkeeper-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. READ: Kusal Perera eyes international comeback following doping error

“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.” READ: ICC clears Kusal Perera on charges of doping

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. READ: Kusal Perera eyes international comeback following doping error

“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. READ: Kusal Perera, SLC have not requested for compensation: ICC

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 week.

“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.”