After criticism of Sri Lanka's performance in the 1987 World Cup, Duleep Mendis resigned the captaincy and made himself unavailable for selection. Having been captain since 1982, he needed a break from the tension of international cricket to devote more time to family and his business interests. Ranjan Madugalle was appointed skipper for the Benson & Hedges one-day international series in Australia and the tour's solitary Test match.
Only eight members of the 1987 World Cup squad were taken to Australia.Sri Lanka's most experienced batsman apart from Mendis, Roy Dias, was dropped. Instead he successfully skippered the Sri Lankan 'B' team in Zimbabwe. Coach Don Smith spoke out against the poor fielding in the World Cup when the selectors had opted for experience. Chief selector Ian Pieris said he was now looking for youth, fitness and good fielding.
The Sri Lankans were being deprived at this time of competitive domestic cricket because of political turmoil at home. The socialist JVP (or People's Liberation Front) launched an insurrection against the ruling United National Party which brought chaos to the south at the same time as the Government was fighting the LTTE in the north. 1987 was the "Year of the Bomb" and during the Insurgency 1987-91 Sri Lanka undertook 17 overseas tours (for ODIs as well as Tests) but hosted not a single team visiting the island.
The two four-day games played in Australia on this tour provided inadequate preparation for a Test match and the batsmen were clearly unused to building long innings. During the 1987-88 winter Sri Lanka played 14 ODIs but only this solitary Test. The Australian authorities were right in doubting that the Sri Lankans would attract paying spectators; the Perth Test saw the lowest attendance at a Test match in Australia for 100 years. On a poor pitch, they lost heavily.
After the Perth Test, the tour party returned in two batches: ten members returned via Kuala Lumpur and Singapore on 18 February (Fernando, Mahanama, Tillekeratne, Kuruppu, Samarasekera, Asoka de Silva, Amalean, Ramanayake, Kaluperuma).Eight members returned via Singapore on Saturday 20 February (Fuard, Madugalle, Ranatunga, de Alwis, Aravinda, Labrooy, Jeganathan, Ratnayeke)
The team were then to go to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup series, to be played between 22-28 February, but the tournament was cancelled because of political unrest.
To general reading of The Times newspaper digital archive (Gale Group);Jamaica Gleanor archive;National Library of Australia Trove; Papers Past NZ.
From former British Newspaper Library, Colindale and online:The Age, Melbourne Argus, Bangladesh Daily Star, Barbados Advocate, Canberra Times, Daily Telegraph, Dawn, Eastern Daily Press, The Hindu, The Independent (Dhaka), Indian Express, The Island (Lanka), Lahore Times, New Nation, New Zealand Auckland Herald, Sri Lanka Daily News, Stabroek News, Straits Times, Sydney Morning Herald, The Telegraph (Calcutta), Times of India , The Tribune Chandigarh, Trinidad Guardian, The West Australian.
Magazines/periodicals including Australian Cricket, B & H West Indies Annual, The Cricketer International, Cricketer Quarterly, Indian Cricket, Indian Cricket Field Annual, Playfair Cricket Monthly, Shell Cricket Almanack of New Zealand, Wisden Cricket Monthly, Wisden Book of Test Cricket, Wisden’s Cricketers’ Almanack.
Men In White, A History of Australian Cricket (Harte), A History of Indian Cricket (Bose), A History of West Indies Cricket (Manley)