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Four days into this tournament and I am really enjoying it. I like South Africa. It’s difficult to put my finger on exactly why, but I like the people, who have a great sense of humour, and I like being in Africa. There is a mystery to this continent that excites me. And all this makes it a fantastic place to come and play cricket. People here have embraced the event and the organisers chose the ideal place to launch the inaugural tournament.
It has been good meeting the new coaching team, who all seem like very practical down-to-earth guys believing in a good old-fashioned work ethic. It's also a fun challenge getting to grips with a new format - a format we are keen to enjoy because we play our best cricket when we enjoy ourselves. But the highlight of my week was a visit to a school in Tembisa township about one and a half hours outside Johannesburg.
I occasionally get involved with UNAIDS when I tour around the world and this week I was invited to go visit the kids in this school. Jehan [Mubarak] and Upul [Tharanga] came along and we had a really fun day spending time with the kids. We chatted together and they also played some cricket and rounders - they were really talented, by the way, especially the girls who gave the boys a good kicking. Anyway, the visit also had a serious purpose and we spoke about the positive role sport can play for individuals, families and communities. It keeps you healthy and it helps instil discipline and responsibility, key ingredients in the struggle to control AIDS. By playing and enjoying sport, young kids can develop the inner strength and confidence to take control of their lives and make better decisions for their futures.
Back on the field, today’s match was a pleasing start. We’ll need to tighten up some areas against the big boys, especially in the crucial first six overs in the field. But it was a joy to watch Sanath [Jayasuriya], a player that was born to play Twenty20. He could make a major impact in this tournament and was looking in great form. It was nice to break another record [largest margin of victory in international Twenty20 matches] too, but winning is the main objective and we have plenty of work ahead of us.
One of the pillars of the Sri Lankan team, Kumar Sangakkara is among the most influential cricketers in world cricket. An attractive, free-stroking left-hand batsman, Sangakkara also possesses the temperament to compile big scores (and those have been coming ever more frequently since he gave up wicketkeeping to focus on batting). Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene hold the world record for the highest wicket partnership, 624 for the third, against South Africa at Colombo, of which his share was 287. Intelligent and articulate, he is a sharp-eyed strategist, and a sharper-tongued sledger.