Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, MCG, 3rd Day December 28, 2012

Dropped catches cost us - Jayawardene


Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said the two dropped catches in the third session on day one were crucial and might have changed the complexion of the Melbourne Test, in which Sri Lanka were defeated inside three days.

The innings and 201-run loss is the third heaviest in Sri Lanka's Test history, as the visitors succumbed to 103 all out in 24.2 overs in the second innings. Kumar Sangakkara was retired hurt however, and Prasanna Jayawardene and Chanaka Welegedara did not bat due to injury.

The visitor's first innings total was only marginally better at 156 all out but they took three Australian wickets in the evening session on day one to have the hosts 117 for 3. But two catches went down soon after when Tillakaratne Dilshan failed to hold on to a chance from Michael Clarke, off Rangana Herath, and Sangakkara shelled an edge off Shane Watson's bat.

Watson and Clarke finished the day with Australia on 150 for 3 and batted Australia into a commanding lead on day two with a 194-run partnership. They were also reprieved twice on the second morning in the same Herath over when Sangakkara could not collect the ball to stump Clarke, and Jayawardene dropped a slip catch off Watson.

"The first day was a tough one to come back from, but we fought really well in the latter part of the first evening," Jayawardene said. "We dropped two catches I thought was crucial at that time and things would have been different but Michael went and got a hundred and Watto got a fifty.

"Overall a very disappointing Test for us. Given the fact that we had played really well in Hobart and coming here, we had a lot of confidence and a good plan to execute but it was very unfortunate. That's something that we as a team need to sit down and have a good chat among ourselves and see where we need to go from here."

The tour has been particularly disappointing for Jayawardene, who has four failures in as many innings in the series so far. In the first innings in Melbourne he edged Peter Siddle to the wicketkeeper for 3, before falling for zero in the second dig, edging a Jackson Bird indipper onto the stumps as he attempted to leave the ball.

He has played several crucial innings at home in 2012, but his unflattering away record has been worsened in the last two years - he hasn't scored a fifty outside the subcontinent since March 2008 - where he averages 16.81 in the last two years, against a career average away from home of 38.00, a mark somewhat lower than his career average of 49.41.

"I have worked hard on my batting, but I haven't spent enough time in this series to see how badly I am batting. At practices I am hitting the ball pretty well, but three to four overs is not enough to assess where I need to be in the series. It's just not individuals but as a team we all need to take responsibility."

Jayawardene also said he hoped Dilshan would not make wholesale changes to his approach, despite an injudicious stroke having brought his demise in the first innings. Dilshan had been aggressive from the outset, missing his first ball having aimed a booming cover drive, and perishing after swiping across the line to a Mitchell Johnson inswinger that disturbed his stumps. Johnson also removed Dilshan in the second innings for a first-ball duck.

"Dilly is in pretty good nick. He is a naturally gifted strokeplayer and what he showed in Hobart was that he could dominate a bowling unit and get runs. He found Mitch difficult in this Test match but he is an experienced player. He will go back and revisit what happened and come back strongly. We don't want him to not play his game, because that's where he is most lethal for us."

Jayawardene denied that his spat with Sri Lanka Cricket in the lead up to the Test affected the team's preparation and mentality. SLC had issued a release stating its Executive Committee would review Jayawardene's actions after the Sri Lanka captain had said he "lost all confidence in dealing with SLC" over a leaked letter.

"I don't think it's that big an issue. It's something that's disappointing and that happened between the two Test matches, but I am focused on this tour. I told the SLC as well, and I am willing to move on."

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adam on December 31, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    Like I said no one questions Mahela's commitment to SL cricket and that he has guided us to many Victories. Srilankan cricket players are well loved because of people like Mahela and their attitudes.

    But the point to ponder here is if Mahela has done well in swinging/bouncing wickets.

    Coming from a Die hard Srilankan Fan and a Nalandian

  • Adam on December 31, 2012, 13:39 GMT

    Even Sehwag who's thought of as a flat track bully has done better against these teams.

    Sehwag (50.05) - ENG(6) - 27.80, AUS (11) - 46.86 , SA(8) - 25.46

    And here is Mahelas record

    ENG(10) - 34.11, Australia(6) - 25.66, SA (8) - 27.87

    The problem is that Mahela is so consistent in the subcontinent and so strong but it all fades away once he's out of his home comforts.

    He looks well uncomfortable and nervous and you cannot bet that he would not give his wicket away.

    He's played a few brilliant innings abroad but if you are saving a match against a good bowling attack (ENG,SA,AUS) Who would you rather have on the wicket? Sachin?, Dravid ? Sanga? Younis? Mohommad Yousuf? or Mahela?

  • Adam on December 31, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    @Suranga: You do not get the point. No one ever questioned MJ's contribution to SL cricket. Only thing being argued is the fact that he has not done well in Aus, Eng or SA. I personally do not believe that ODI is a way to measure a players ability against quality bowling as it's a format that favors batsmen massively that even captains set defensive fields for the most attacking bowlers.

    I agree with about subcontinent players not being the best in these conditions, but good players at least have done well at least in one of these countries.

    Tendulkar (Career Avg 54 ), ENG(10 Matches ) - Avg - 54.31, AUS (20) - 53.20, SA(15) - 46.44

    Dravid(52.31) - ENG(13) - 68.80, AUS (16) - 41.64, SA (11) - 29.71

    Younis Khan(51.69) - ENG (5) - 52.22, AUS (3) - 43.16, SA(5) - 33.88

    Kumar Sangakkara (55.80) - ENG(9) - 30.58, AUS- 60.33 SA(8) - 35.75

    These AWAY Averages of prominent players in the subcontinent and they have done well against at least against one of these nations.

  • Dummy4 on December 30, 2012, 0:15 GMT

    @KingOwl , mate im talking about ODI's so you can not say that he can not play in fast wickets..Coz of him we at least managed to win 2 ODI's and Only T20 in England last summer. Also he played well in last VB series in Australia. Same thing in Wist Indies as well. He was the second highest run getter in 2007 WC and T20 WC. Look world best bating line up Indians what has happened to them ?? Subcontinent players can-not play well in those wickets. At the same time they can-not play well in subcontinent. But who talks about that. Here some people forgot his 17 year career...2 world cup finals, 2 T20 finals and won 2 Asia cup....with his contribution. Kallis avg in England is below 30 so what you can say about him ?

  • trev on December 29, 2012, 6:32 GMT

    Overall, I hate to say it but Sri Lanka's batting performance was disgraceful. Yes the drop catches did contribute, but it was really the batting the failed. It really didn't matter if Sri Lanka had the best test bowlers and fielders in the world, if they could not get a par total consistently, they would have no chance. It has been disappointing to see Mahela's form, he has been really tentative and that I think has been his downfall. He should look to score more often (in a sensible manner) than just block and go out. He also should be more sure of himself. Anyway, the one commentator that really backed Sri Lanka has sadly passed away (Tony Greig <3). Sri Lanka should look to really play the 3rd test in honour of him and win and prove that they aren't a crap test side. Seniors in the team should lead the youngsters and they should back the seniors. An allround effort without Sangakkara, Prasanna and Welegedera will have to work, so dig deep and do it for Tony Greig.

  • Parthiban on December 29, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    Now is the right time for Mahela to give us his usual speech about the batsmen needing to pull up their socks, suspenders etc,. He would do well to lift himself up by the jock straps as well instead of selling the pride of a whole nation.

  • Parthiban on December 29, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    Now is the right time for Mahela to give us his usual speech about the batsmen needing to pull up their socks, suspenders etc,. He would do well to lift himself up by the jock straps as well instead of selling the pride of a whole nation.

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2012, 5:01 GMT

    Mahela, you gave up the captaincy not a day too soon. now you can go back play thousands of ballsin the nets to get the technical fault that you clearly have in playing any half decent fast bowling. The NZ games at home showed this, so it's not just overseas. Hope you play for a few years yet, but as a top order player you should be scoring 3 out of every 4 innings, not one out of 10. If that is the ratio, give a youngster a go.

  • Anjana on December 29, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    Yes, Dropped catches (Clarke, Watto and Hussey) cost us. But how about SL batting? Unless Mahela address true problems in the team, this team will continue to play like a high school team. Looking at how the Seniors (except Sanga) batter in this match, its obvious the youngsters too will never learn. Even our senior batters need to get classes from Michell Jhonson about valuing their wickets.

  • Chatty on December 29, 2012, 4:33 GMT

    And one more thing, Suranga: Mahela has scored runs in England, including at Lords. But you need to get educated about wickets - Lords with the sun out is completely, totally, utterly different from when it is cloudy. One need to know when Mahela made those runs. Mahela is an extremely elegant batsman, with fantastic timing, and is a beauty to watch in full flight. But he still cannot play the fast men when there is lateral movement. That is a problem that Mahela needs to face. There is no hiding behind empty words.

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