Kusal targeting Sri Lanka return after ban lift
Kusal Perera knows he needs to develop his form and fitness but is targeting a return to the Sri Lanka national team having had his provisional suspension for doping lifted by the ICC.
Kusal was suspended by the ICC last December after a WADA-accredited laboratory in Qatar reported he had tested positive for the prohibited anabolic steroid 19-Norandrostenedione, which was also detected in B samples provided.
An independent expert commissioned by world cricket's governing body to review the laboratory's findings confirmed their presence, but was unable to rule out "that the 19-Norandrostenedione was produced naturally in the player's body and/or formed in the samples after the player provided them".
The Qatari facility subsequently withdrew the adverse finding, freeing Kusal to return to competitive action once again with the ICC stating there was "no evidence he has ever used performance-enhancing substances".
The 25-year-old is now focused on adding to his 76 previous international appearances, but acknowledged there is work to do before that becomes a reality.
"I can't think much about the personal cost to me, because all I want to do is play cricket again," said Kusal.
"I've been out of the game for five months. I need to get back to practice soon. I'm really not thinking much about the financial losses. The first priority is to play for Sri Lanka and get back to form.
"The first month of the suspension I couldn't train much because I was getting a lot of legal advice. I did try to find time to train with a coach. I also worked on my fitness through the period.
"I need to do a bit more practice before I think about tours. That's how I'll get my form back. Through this period I couldn't work with the Sri Lanka trainer, so there will be work to do on my fitness as well.
"I'm very happy about being able to come back to cricket."
Kusal claims he knew he was innocent throughout but does not believe the ban has tarnished his reputation.
"I think people believed me through the whole ordeal. I said I hadn't taken illegal [substances] then, and I still say it now," said Kusal.
"The [Sri Lanka Cricket] board believed me, and the media believed me and left me alone. The fans also believed me, so I don't think there has been much damage done to my reputation
"People told me after the B sample also was shown to have the substance, that it would be better to accept my fault and hope for a shorter ban.
"But I didn't want to accept a wrong that I hadn't actually committed. If there had been any wrongdoing, I would have accepted it."