Australia v Sri Lanka, CB series, 3rd ODI, Perth February 10, 2012

Top captaincy, now for the runs

Mahela Jayawardene has been refreshingly aggressive as a leader. Sri Lanka now need him to find his batting touch
46

The brains in the ICC cricket committee have to routinely coming up with new regulations to take out uniformity and formula from ODIs. They introduced Powerplays to break the pattern of 15 overs' restrictions and to reduce the duration of middle overs, but the captains found a formula there too, finishing the bowling Powerplay as soon as possible and taking the batting one right at the end. To fight that, the cricket committee has introduced 15 non-Powerplay overs (11 to 15 and 41 to 50), and also one new ball for each end. If they have a good budget, they might want to clone Mahela Jayawardene too.

One of the offshoots of the turmoil in Sri Lankan cricket has been the return to captaincy of this delightfully shrewd tactician. When it came to strategy, field placings, bowling changes, even the use of DRS as India will tell you about the 2008 series, Jayawardene was peerless during his reign as captain. It was the other stuff he couldn't handle any longer. It is the other stuff Kumar Sangakkara after him couldn't handle. Now, though, that Jayawardene is back, his captaincy has brought back some freshness to a format going stale.

In the game two nights ago, India had got off to a good start in a small chase, reaching 1 for 47 in 10 overs, but Jayawardene's field settings for the next five overs almost suggested he had forgotten the new regulation that these overs were off limits for Powerplays. Unlike modern captains, Jayawardene was looking for wickets to slow runs down. That remained the story throughout the ultimately unsuccessful defence. That Sri Lanka never looked in despite quick wickets was down to rusty fielders not poor fields.

It can be argued that Jayawardene was forced to do so by the meagreness of the total. And even though it can be counter-argued that there are several other modern captains who ignore such compulsions, today, when Sri Lanka were fielding first, Jayawardene's hand was not forced. All he had was a helpful - not unplayable - pitch and a decent - by no means fearful - attack to work with. One of his bowlers even had an off day.

Yet Jayawardene attacked. The field didn't go back between over Nos 11 and 15. And after the bowling Powerplay ended, David Hussey and Michael Clarke hit the 21st over for 15 runs. Jayawardene refused to go back on the ultra defensive. His response was to bring Lasith Malinga back. Malinga got him the wicket, and Sri Lanka were attacking again.

The thing about such captaincy is that it leaves you vulnerable to a counterattack, which is why most modern captains don't try it. Even today, first Hussey and then Dan Christian tried to exploit those fields, but Jayawardene kept mixing the bowlers up and didn't bother about the boundaries as long as he stopped the easy autopilot singles. In his first two games back, Jayawardene the captain has been as good as he ever was. However, for this Sri Lankan team to come out of this political and financial rut, Jayawardene the batsman, too, will have to be as good as he ever was.

In both his innings on the tour so far, Jayawardene has not made the bowling side work for his wicket. In fact against India he looked like he could get out any ball. Today he started off better, showed a little touch before attempting a late-cut whose cuteness only subcontinent tracks with low bounce will put up with.

More importantly both those dismissals came at crucial junctures of the match. Against India he perished at the start of the batting Powerplay. Today he had a solid Dinesh Chandimal with whom he could have shepherded the chase, but left the inexperienced middle order exposed, which is where Thilan Samaraweera, who proved everybody wrong with back-to-back Test centuries in South Africa, should be batting. He might not be flash but his 70-ball 40s are exactly what Sri Lanka need in tough batting conditions.

That, though, is a story for another day. Back to Jayawardene. He last crossed 31 in an international match in November in Sharjah. His last special knock was the second-innings century against Australia in Galle in August. And he hasn't usually been bad in ODIs in England, South Africa and Australia. Unlike in Tests, where his average drops from 50 overall to 31 in these three countries, his ODI average deviates only by two units, from 33 to 31.

Jayawardene will get a chance to right that Test dip next year when for the first time in his career he will get to play a Test at the MCG, but the ODI chance is here and now. He has made a bold move by accepting the thorny crown that is Sri Lanka captaincy, but whatever he targets to achieve will not happen without help from Jayawardene the batsman.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Wolfpac on February 13, 2012, 21:17 GMT

    Well, thanks Monga for this article, give credit where it is due, I think tactically MJ is a better captain than Clarke or Dhoni, Sri Lanka are not a strong outfit and credit should be given to MJ for the way heis able to use the side as it is. In fact as a tactician he is better than the great Arjuna even

  • Lalindra2012 on February 12, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    Sri Lanka need to be ruthless!!No matter, you have the top captain or the no 1 test batsman in your side if you can't pull off matches where you could easily do it.no matter if Mahela's cricketing brain is the cunning,clever or strategically best brain because his plan is good as the on field sri Lanka's performance.if chapely can see from the commentators box that malinga should have finished his last over when da Aussies were 192/8,any baby watching the match know that you always bring in a fast bowler to finish off da opponents innings,so why couldn't the on field captain @ that time didn't have the brains to finish the Australian innings off.if u closely study Ian chapely when ever he says something smart,the on field captain of Australia whether its ponting or Clarke they implement that plan by instinct because those basic things are instilled by people like chappaly from grass root levels to implement when needed the most.in sri Lanka theirs no mechanism as such so S.L pay.

  • gularan on February 12, 2012, 12:53 GMT

    I rate Arjuna the Best Captain SL has had. He had a simple but effective formula for the SL side. He would always opt to field first irrespective of the state of the pitch- a strategy that was adopted to minimise the effect of a batting collapse if SL batted first and collapsed for a paltry total which would make the result of the match a foregone conclusion within the first hour or so. Additionally he would not take crap from any umpire or opposing player who would resort to using intimidatory tactics to make him look stupid. He on the otherhand would dish it out to them in double doses which earned him the epithet " GUNBOAT CAPTAIN ". Mahela could do well to emulate the great Arjuna in order to get SL back on track to winning matches.

  • Cannuck on February 11, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    In the argument of who's the better Capt. SLs will always say it's Arjuna due to WC win & change to how we play the game. But people who know & has played cricket will say MJ is better on the field, reading the game. Here's what Arjuna him self had said about Mahela (from a recent ISLAND article) which sums up a lot! " "In the mid-90s, playing for SSC, when the opposition was putting up a partnership, fielding from short midwicket I used to ponder a means to break that stand. A couple of deliveries later I would have a fair idea which bowler to use and what field to set to take that wicket. As I made up my mind, I found Mahela Jayawardene sprinting to me & saying; why don't you try this to get the breakthrough? It just happened to be the same thing I had been thinking. At that point, I had played over 75 Tests, won a World Cup & done it all. But here was an 18-year-old, just out of school, whose thinking was in the same capacity as that of a veteran Test cricketer." - Arjuna Ranatunge

  • on February 11, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    @sidhart monga....why didnt u praised mahela when he lost to india.

  • on February 11, 2012, 17:52 GMT

    sihart monga plz stop writing man u dont deserve to be a wriote in cricinfo...bad cricket knowledge n bad brain

  • manojwick on February 11, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    Yes mahela is a good captain. bt wt is main job in SL team. is a middle order batsmen. hw many times he faild to do that.Wn he is in t team will lost. in SA last 2 games he wasent there we won. wn he comes 2 team unbalanced t team. mahela u play that u can get runs. dont think ur a goodbatsmen though u have all t shorts in the book. look hw wel chandimal plays at ur position. learn frm them!!!

  • on February 11, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    Mahela was one of the best captains we (Sri Lanka) have ever produced. According to me the best captain we have ever produce was Grate Arjuna Ranathunga. Arjuna was the true leader of the SL because he created the players. Such as Aravinda, Murali, Sanath, Vaas, Mahanama, Upul Chandana He bring new concepts to the game and he gave the freedom to the players. Once I remember Aravinda said he was asked to be ready to play for the 3rd bowl of the match because sanath and kalu can get out with no time. That's how arjuna gave the freedom for the players to play and that's how he protect the players. Mahela was lucky to handle the one of the best teams. He had Murali, Vaas, Malinga. When he need a wicket he just have to throw a ball to someone in the team. They did the job.. So we can't compare the old mahela captancy and new mahela. Unlucky Dilshan (never got the support from the team) created some new players like chandimal.. Lets see how Mahela going to get the service of them.

  • JoeDeS on February 11, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    Well balanced article. Samaraweera's omission is mind boggling. Apparently Sri Lanka is preparing for the next world cup !! Play the best team and win matches now & build confidence. Get the rankings where they should be first. On the present strategy Sri Lanka will join the ranks of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe soon.

  • Australian0007 on February 11, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    Mahela is much better captain than Dhoni, even better than Clarke. Frankly SL always has best captains in the sub continent ( Arjuna -Best ever, Atapatthu, Sanga). Unfortunatly for SL Jayawardane's form is so bad in near past. He can get couple of good scores & again get lot of bad scores. SL has very good captain & batman-Samaraweera. So they have to drop aging Jayawardane & give chance to in form batman. Also Jayawardane creates lot of prblems in past. He didnt give 100% when Atapatthu & Dilshan captain the team. He was against when VASS got the vice captaincy & always creates problems in the team, when things going not his way. SO JAYAWARDANE NOT SHOULD BE IN THE TEAM.

  • Wolfpac on February 13, 2012, 21:17 GMT

    Well, thanks Monga for this article, give credit where it is due, I think tactically MJ is a better captain than Clarke or Dhoni, Sri Lanka are not a strong outfit and credit should be given to MJ for the way heis able to use the side as it is. In fact as a tactician he is better than the great Arjuna even

  • Lalindra2012 on February 12, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    Sri Lanka need to be ruthless!!No matter, you have the top captain or the no 1 test batsman in your side if you can't pull off matches where you could easily do it.no matter if Mahela's cricketing brain is the cunning,clever or strategically best brain because his plan is good as the on field sri Lanka's performance.if chapely can see from the commentators box that malinga should have finished his last over when da Aussies were 192/8,any baby watching the match know that you always bring in a fast bowler to finish off da opponents innings,so why couldn't the on field captain @ that time didn't have the brains to finish the Australian innings off.if u closely study Ian chapely when ever he says something smart,the on field captain of Australia whether its ponting or Clarke they implement that plan by instinct because those basic things are instilled by people like chappaly from grass root levels to implement when needed the most.in sri Lanka theirs no mechanism as such so S.L pay.

  • gularan on February 12, 2012, 12:53 GMT

    I rate Arjuna the Best Captain SL has had. He had a simple but effective formula for the SL side. He would always opt to field first irrespective of the state of the pitch- a strategy that was adopted to minimise the effect of a batting collapse if SL batted first and collapsed for a paltry total which would make the result of the match a foregone conclusion within the first hour or so. Additionally he would not take crap from any umpire or opposing player who would resort to using intimidatory tactics to make him look stupid. He on the otherhand would dish it out to them in double doses which earned him the epithet " GUNBOAT CAPTAIN ". Mahela could do well to emulate the great Arjuna in order to get SL back on track to winning matches.

  • Cannuck on February 11, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    In the argument of who's the better Capt. SLs will always say it's Arjuna due to WC win & change to how we play the game. But people who know & has played cricket will say MJ is better on the field, reading the game. Here's what Arjuna him self had said about Mahela (from a recent ISLAND article) which sums up a lot! " "In the mid-90s, playing for SSC, when the opposition was putting up a partnership, fielding from short midwicket I used to ponder a means to break that stand. A couple of deliveries later I would have a fair idea which bowler to use and what field to set to take that wicket. As I made up my mind, I found Mahela Jayawardene sprinting to me & saying; why don't you try this to get the breakthrough? It just happened to be the same thing I had been thinking. At that point, I had played over 75 Tests, won a World Cup & done it all. But here was an 18-year-old, just out of school, whose thinking was in the same capacity as that of a veteran Test cricketer." - Arjuna Ranatunge

  • on February 11, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    @sidhart monga....why didnt u praised mahela when he lost to india.

  • on February 11, 2012, 17:52 GMT

    sihart monga plz stop writing man u dont deserve to be a wriote in cricinfo...bad cricket knowledge n bad brain

  • manojwick on February 11, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    Yes mahela is a good captain. bt wt is main job in SL team. is a middle order batsmen. hw many times he faild to do that.Wn he is in t team will lost. in SA last 2 games he wasent there we won. wn he comes 2 team unbalanced t team. mahela u play that u can get runs. dont think ur a goodbatsmen though u have all t shorts in the book. look hw wel chandimal plays at ur position. learn frm them!!!

  • on February 11, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    Mahela was one of the best captains we (Sri Lanka) have ever produced. According to me the best captain we have ever produce was Grate Arjuna Ranathunga. Arjuna was the true leader of the SL because he created the players. Such as Aravinda, Murali, Sanath, Vaas, Mahanama, Upul Chandana He bring new concepts to the game and he gave the freedom to the players. Once I remember Aravinda said he was asked to be ready to play for the 3rd bowl of the match because sanath and kalu can get out with no time. That's how arjuna gave the freedom for the players to play and that's how he protect the players. Mahela was lucky to handle the one of the best teams. He had Murali, Vaas, Malinga. When he need a wicket he just have to throw a ball to someone in the team. They did the job.. So we can't compare the old mahela captancy and new mahela. Unlucky Dilshan (never got the support from the team) created some new players like chandimal.. Lets see how Mahela going to get the service of them.

  • JoeDeS on February 11, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    Well balanced article. Samaraweera's omission is mind boggling. Apparently Sri Lanka is preparing for the next world cup !! Play the best team and win matches now & build confidence. Get the rankings where they should be first. On the present strategy Sri Lanka will join the ranks of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe soon.

  • Australian0007 on February 11, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    Mahela is much better captain than Dhoni, even better than Clarke. Frankly SL always has best captains in the sub continent ( Arjuna -Best ever, Atapatthu, Sanga). Unfortunatly for SL Jayawardane's form is so bad in near past. He can get couple of good scores & again get lot of bad scores. SL has very good captain & batman-Samaraweera. So they have to drop aging Jayawardane & give chance to in form batman. Also Jayawardane creates lot of prblems in past. He didnt give 100% when Atapatthu & Dilshan captain the team. He was against when VASS got the vice captaincy & always creates problems in the team, when things going not his way. SO JAYAWARDANE NOT SHOULD BE IN THE TEAM.

  • stormy16 on February 11, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    Mahela is definitely a good captain that certainly needs runs realy realy badly and for a long time now. However, I thougt he made blunder against India by not taking in a spinner to the game not bowling out Maliga in search for wickets. Granted he is still a shrewd tactitian. I cannot understand this call for Samaraweera - arent SL rebuilding? You cant do that with 35+ aged players and 3 of the top 7 are already that. If Mahela makes runs this discussion would be a non-starter. The other issue is Thirimana is an opener so he is batting out of his spot and cannot be afforded to perform from unfamiliar positions in unfamiliar conditions.

  • TissaPerera on February 11, 2012, 9:54 GMT

    I agree to most, but there are still areas Mahela is not doing right. Especially against India, when wickets fell and new batsmen come to crease, he didnt attack. It is important to have atleast one slip fielder when a new batsman arrive. I remember there was no slip fielder for new tail-ender batsman during India series and a batsman gave a slip catch which went for 4 runs. He didnt bring close fielders either. And on team selection, they didnt play a specialist Spinner against India but Indian spinner got some turn. It is time He Opens with Dilshan, bring Samaraweera (much better than Tirimana) and Perera to be given more chances because he can win matches.

  • on February 11, 2012, 7:57 GMT

    @Radhakrishna Rao: I beg to disagree. MS Dhoni is no way the best captain around - he was simply the captain of India's best side. If any other captain had thrown the ball to Joginder Sharma in the WT20 final, they would have lost but MSD was way too lucky all the way. They only got into the 2008 CB series final because of umpiring gaffes in the Ind V SL game in Canberra. Even in the WC, SA and SL were much better sides than India in the tournament in terms of quality of cricket played. Ask Dhoni to lead the SriLankan side and we will see how much he will be able to do.

  • on February 11, 2012, 7:46 GMT

    Yeah.. Mahela was always good ay his captaincy

  • on February 11, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    Why Mahela didn't support at all when Dilshard captian, not only him rest of players didn't give 100% ,

  • on February 11, 2012, 4:54 GMT

    MitenD excellent point. MJ has to open, he's too good to come down the order.

  • vattettan on February 11, 2012, 4:48 GMT

    I have always believed that Mahela is the best captain out there. And his was one of the best signings Kochi did. They were ready to go to any amount for him and they already decided him as their captain. As a batsman, I don't think he is any better than Sangakkara but he fetched almost double (don't remember Sangakkara's exact auction figure) of Sangakkara. That was just because of his ability to captain a team. Undoubtedly the best captain in the world today. He should be having a very good logically thinking brain unlike most of the other captains out there, and I seem to remember how poor was Attappattu's thinking while he was the captain. Mahela, the best captain I have seen. Attappattu, the worst I have seen. Both from Sri Lanka!

  • unbiasedfan on February 11, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    I disagree - when India had lost Kholi and with Ashwin in he let things drift waiting for a wicket to fall and conceding easy singles. If he was truly aggressive he would have bought the field in and challenged Ashwin to go for the big shots. He did not. My take is it is easy being aggressive when you have nothing to loose (like alluded to in the article at the beginning of the Indian innings when he was defending a meager total and had to take 10 wickets) but when he was on the up with the advantage with him (with the top order gone) he did not have the bottle (like most other captains) to continue being aggressive.

  • CaptSK on February 11, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    @ 3liteindia, you are entitled for your opinion, but any SL fan will regard Arjuna as the best Captain, leader we ever had.

  • siriherath on February 11, 2012, 4:24 GMT

    Two immediate replacements are of paramount importance for Tharanga and Thirimanne. The two ideal players are: Bhanuka Rajapakshe to open and Samaraweera at number 6 or 7. As many have said, Samaraweera can adapt to situations well and muster every valuable run by which ever way he can. Bhanuka is a fearless and stylish batsman who has a gift for accumulating runs fast. Show him the confidence he deserves and he can deliver the 40+ runs as an opener alongside Dilshan creating a firm base for the others to play freely to their potential. In fact to recharge Mahela, it wouldn't be a bad idea for Mahela to open where his average is over 60 and let Bhanuka go at number 3 and the rest to follow. Good leadership was good and evident. But for the team to succeed, every cog need to find its optimum.So that the team works like a well oiled, well tuned engine - smooth and efficient.

  • on February 11, 2012, 4:12 GMT

    comparing dhoni and jayawardene in terms of captaincy is like comparing apples and oranges..dhoni is still best captain around...jayawardene is also an astute captain..but dhoni is still best..and rememeber, it was jayawardene who was captain of the sri lanakan team when under dhoni, india won their first ever bilateral series against sri lanka

  • Vivian_Richard on February 11, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    Mahela is elegance personified. And if my memory serves me right, I think the most prolific years of Mahela as a batsman came when he was captain. Atleast he made it seem so. He's too good a player to have a lean patch time and again, for Sri Lanka Cricket's sake, I hope he turns on the heat down under.

  • on February 11, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    Few people have sutlely promoting two players namely Thilan and Tharanga as captain. Thilan is one of the greatest sL test players. Unfortunately for him Mahela and Sanga were in the same age group as him. I felt he should have given a chance to captain the test team till Angelo was ready before Dilshan was considered , but not the ODI team.

  • on February 11, 2012, 3:38 GMT

    Mahela was brilliant in his reading of the wicket. field placings and bowling changes. Hope he will be equally bold in changing the batting lineup. Dilshan and himself to open. Chandimal / Mathews at numbers 3 or 4 is a must. Imagine if Mathews batted at 4 and had more time to bat with Chandimal and SL could have won with less wickets down. Mathews could have made a big hundred or even Chandimal.

  • liontheway on February 11, 2012, 3:07 GMT

    Good job Mahela and the rest of the team. You have given a good competition, and came up few runs short but you made us proud. We are a strong nation, and never given_up. Go Sri Lanka go!

  • NaniIndCri on February 11, 2012, 2:15 GMT

    Mahela is not a good ODI batsman, his record speaks a lot for that. Even in tests he has scored against only few teams that too in his home country. His captaincy is good, he is looking to take wickets all the time. As an Indian fan I miss that from Dhoni. He uses the same tactics of 4 fielders in the ring that he uses in subcontinent which does not work for these big grounds. Gaps are hard to fill here and best way to stop runs is to cut those angles in the ring and take wickets. Even when new batman is in it only takes couple of hits for Dhoni to go back to the defensive field.

  • playitstraight on February 11, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    Mahela Jayawardene is a respectable man, a great leader, and the greatest captain Sri Lanka ever had, with Kumar Sangakkara very close to him. The reason he lost the 2007 WC was because he couldn't stop such an assault by Gilchrist, although maybe he could've won the 2011 WC. His captaincy is one to admire, I wonder why he wasn't helping Dilshan during his terrible time with the captaincy, maybe Dilly wanted to do things his way. Anyways, SL showed a lot of fight today and were unlucky to lose the match after coming so close. They bowled well, fielded well and even the captaincy by Mahela was superb. The batting unit, though, was a let down again. Thirimanne needs to be dropped, he is not looking too good. Even his 69 vs SA was because of lucky edges and inside edges, although he played some good shots. Mahela needs those runs badly, I'm sure he knows that as well.

  • on February 11, 2012, 0:30 GMT

    SL well done. You made us very proud. You fought hard till the last moment. That was good enough for us. Trust me you will be in the final with bit of luck. It was almost full house last night at WACA and we all thoroughly enjoyed your fighting qualities. I am not a great fan of MJ the batsmen but as a captain he proved me wrong. I am sure he can come out from his batting difficulties in Adelaide. Angelo you are always my favorite SL cricketer. You were superb in both the batting and bowling. I am not a Lankan but I take my hat off to you guys. Good luck in Adelaide. You got Aussies worried.

  • SR71M on February 11, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    Charindra, (commenting out of context here) Arjuna, in my opinion, was in a league of his own. He had the ability to dwarf the opposition mentally in a manner non other we have seen after him. We could have done with some of that in 2011. His team by '96 wasn't weak: only a 'perception of weakness', the big names tagged on Sri Lanka at the time nonchalantly by habit. The very reason his team managed to shock the world! Hats off to the '96 team. We enjoyed your brilliance to our heart's content.

  • mikeindex on February 10, 2012, 23:39 GMT

    @foursandsixes look up the scores of the 2006 series in England.

  • on February 10, 2012, 22:00 GMT

    More than his failures with the bat it's just that the failures are occurring at the wrong point in the innings, dampening the momentum Dilshan and others have created, putting pressure on the middle order. Maybe he should try opening where he has a good record and has played with great assurance. He would be the better judge of it, anyway.

  • Zookinii on February 10, 2012, 20:08 GMT

    Tharanga and Jayawardene's combined failures were very costly. Sangakkara's run out was permissible because he managed to put something on the board and there was plenty more batting power to follow. Perhaps Tharanga would be more suited to a middle order position where he would have more opportunity to face mid pace bowlers and spinners. I always get the feeling he is scared of raw pace. Not to forget, Damika Prasad was very expensive throughout and targeted by batsmen. Would be ideal that he sits out the next game to save 30 additional runs.

  • Head_gear on February 10, 2012, 19:10 GMT

    Dnt argue abt his Talent Mahela is just a phenominal player...If the team want regular wins & 2 balance the team , they may probably try this combination towards the next few matches... Dilshan & Mahela to open Matthews Chandimal Sangakkara Tharanga Maharoof

    & dnt try just to blame our players Mahela was nt hung in to the captaincy to secure his spot..Just the SLCB believes he's the most suited for the job & who can imagine abt another guy than him who has taken 2 best captain awards consecutively in ICC awards ceremonies.... Perera or Welegedera Kulasekara Sachithra Prasad If Mahela opens I'm sure that it will be the end of his unfortunate season & even of the bad run by Sri Lanka as well!!

  • Django on February 10, 2012, 19:00 GMT

    I still remember watching the 2011 WC final and wondering how SL could have made history had Mahela been captain. To see Sangakkara have just 4 (or possibly just 5) men inside the ring for Virat Kohli's first ball was appalling!! SL would have won the WC had Mahela been captain. Sangakkara was very Dhoni-like too, too methodical and allowed the game to drift. As for Dilshan, the less said the better. Jayawardene is Sri Lanka's best skipper, by a long way. He shows incredible shrewdness in the field, seems to know every single player's strengths and weaknesses and is willing to back players. Pretty much everything you want in a captain. I hope SL have Jeevan Mendis in their squad and play him soon. It was great to see Mahela marshal his tropps masterfully last night.

  • r1m2 on February 10, 2012, 18:59 GMT

    So, Jayawardene despite all the kudos given to him as a batsman, he's managed to average a meager 33 after so many years of international cricket playing 360+ ODIs. So why do we expect him to set the world alight in ODIs? Are we saying that Jayawardene has the potential to do better, and we are still hopeful that someday he will? Statistics sometimes lies, but in this case with so much data behind it (360+ ODIs worth of data), one can safely conclude that Jayawardene at best is a below average batsman in ODIs. His away test record is another matter, and the difference in his home record vs away record shows that he's truly a flat track bully in tests and is overall an average batsman. There are many batsman who makes batting look very beautiful on flat pitches, with home comfort or against shoddy bowling. The trick is to be able to do so against tougher opposition on more challenging pitches. Tendulkars of the world does this regularly. But Jayawardenes of the world? Never!

  • MitenD on February 10, 2012, 18:57 GMT

    I love watching MJ bat but I agree with some of the comments posted here about his sub par record in ODIs. If you are one half of the country's top duo, an average of 33 is simply unacceptable. He plays some gems from time to time but he fails too often in between. The problem, I feel, lies with him batting at #4 and 5. I know Sri Lanka have Dilshan and Tharanga but Jayawardena's technique and stroke making ability makes him an ideal opener. Statistics would agree with me. In 10 ODIs as an opener, he averages over 60! Ask him to play 50 overs every game and I feel he could turn things around for Sri Lanka. India are having the same issue right now with Sehwag. Yes, he can turn a match around in an hour but how often does he do it? Move Dilshan back to the middle order at #4 and play Matthews at #5 or #6 depending on the situation. Mahela is a great captain and an awesome batsman but SL need him to be both consistently and he is wasted in that middle order.

  • Charindra on February 10, 2012, 18:39 GMT

    I always thought Mahela was the best captain SL ever had (Arjuna was inferior to him in on field strategy but had a tougher job because of a weaker team), but if he's not making runs it's very difficult to see him as a captain alone. Then the whispers about him accepting the "thorny crown" of SL captaincy just to save his career will get louder and louder.

  • foursandsixes on February 10, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    Throughout his career, he has batted well only in domestic / Asian conditions.

  • Sinhaya on February 10, 2012, 18:05 GMT

    I think Thilan Samaraweera should be in the side instead of Upul Tharanga

  • on February 10, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    Lord.emsworth, there is no point in MJ demoting himself to No. 7. He will struggle even further batting lower down the order. He should give up captaincy and make himself available for selection purely based on merit. At the moment he is trying to hide behind whatever success achieved by the team. He is a huge liability and should honorably step down before being dumped. The man who is put on stand by in Sri Lanka should take over as captain until Angelo matures sufficiently to assume that role.

  • maddy20 on February 10, 2012, 18:00 GMT

    @Priyantha Gunaratna Why so pessimistic? I though SL played very well today. The captaincy was top notch as the author pointed out. Infact I thought they had a very good chance to win it and they came very close. If one of the top order batsmen had scored a 50, they would have.

  • Noball_Specialist on February 10, 2012, 17:23 GMT

    Most of the time Jayawardene is average. But when he locks into gear on his day. My goodness it's so beautiful. His WC Final innings was his best of the best for me. I hope he finds form again.

  • on February 10, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    Thilan Samaraweera is a very shrewd captain. He led the Sri Lanka A team with distinction in both ODIs and unofficial tests and performed admirably in batting and bowling as well. He is not a 70 ball 40 run batsman. He plays in that mode in test cricket because the situation demands so. An intelligent batsman is one who adopts to the conditions and situation. He puts a heavy price tag on his wicket. If Sri Lanka wants to revive its status in both tests and ODIs we need to have a captain who lead by example and who will not be a liability to the team. Just like Misbah does for Pakistan. Mahela these days is a great talker only. There is no point talking about his past stats. We have to win matches at present. We need doers not talkers. All intelligent people know that Mahela accepted captaincy to avoid being dropped. Lets wait and see when IPL begins in April. He will run away to India in spite of England test series just like the same way he ruined test series in England last year.

  • Lord.emsworth on February 10, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    Mr.Monga's felicitaions for Mahela as a captain are laudable. I must however disagree on the articles comments that MJ hasnt done too badly in ODI's as a batsmen.SL selectors gave Mahela an iron clad alibi to excuse his failures with the bat and save his career by making him captain. His batting debacle continues. Low scores in both ODI's... Sangakarra's run out furthers the talk of 2 camps in this team - The powerful Mahela/Sanga clan and those who don't warm up to them. Sanga's nasty look at Dlishan said it all. Mahela must do the only decent thing now and push Mathews up to number 5 and demote himself to number 7 or step aside. He can be a non-playing captain for whatever is left of this tour. Mike Denness did it. Nasser Hussein & others talked of doing it. Its an honorable way out..

  • on February 10, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    His bat will speak very very very veryyyy soon.. Just wait and watch...!!!!

  • on February 10, 2012, 16:49 GMT

    i dnt hv a clue y srilanka is not winning i might say batting is not clicking ..

    .

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on February 10, 2012, 16:49 GMT

    i dnt hv a clue y srilanka is not winning i might say batting is not clicking ..

    .

  • on February 10, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    His bat will speak very very very veryyyy soon.. Just wait and watch...!!!!

  • Lord.emsworth on February 10, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    Mr.Monga's felicitaions for Mahela as a captain are laudable. I must however disagree on the articles comments that MJ hasnt done too badly in ODI's as a batsmen.SL selectors gave Mahela an iron clad alibi to excuse his failures with the bat and save his career by making him captain. His batting debacle continues. Low scores in both ODI's... Sangakarra's run out furthers the talk of 2 camps in this team - The powerful Mahela/Sanga clan and those who don't warm up to them. Sanga's nasty look at Dlishan said it all. Mahela must do the only decent thing now and push Mathews up to number 5 and demote himself to number 7 or step aside. He can be a non-playing captain for whatever is left of this tour. Mike Denness did it. Nasser Hussein & others talked of doing it. Its an honorable way out..

  • on February 10, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    Thilan Samaraweera is a very shrewd captain. He led the Sri Lanka A team with distinction in both ODIs and unofficial tests and performed admirably in batting and bowling as well. He is not a 70 ball 40 run batsman. He plays in that mode in test cricket because the situation demands so. An intelligent batsman is one who adopts to the conditions and situation. He puts a heavy price tag on his wicket. If Sri Lanka wants to revive its status in both tests and ODIs we need to have a captain who lead by example and who will not be a liability to the team. Just like Misbah does for Pakistan. Mahela these days is a great talker only. There is no point talking about his past stats. We have to win matches at present. We need doers not talkers. All intelligent people know that Mahela accepted captaincy to avoid being dropped. Lets wait and see when IPL begins in April. He will run away to India in spite of England test series just like the same way he ruined test series in England last year.

  • Noball_Specialist on February 10, 2012, 17:23 GMT

    Most of the time Jayawardene is average. But when he locks into gear on his day. My goodness it's so beautiful. His WC Final innings was his best of the best for me. I hope he finds form again.

  • maddy20 on February 10, 2012, 18:00 GMT

    @Priyantha Gunaratna Why so pessimistic? I though SL played very well today. The captaincy was top notch as the author pointed out. Infact I thought they had a very good chance to win it and they came very close. If one of the top order batsmen had scored a 50, they would have.

  • on February 10, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    Lord.emsworth, there is no point in MJ demoting himself to No. 7. He will struggle even further batting lower down the order. He should give up captaincy and make himself available for selection purely based on merit. At the moment he is trying to hide behind whatever success achieved by the team. He is a huge liability and should honorably step down before being dumped. The man who is put on stand by in Sri Lanka should take over as captain until Angelo matures sufficiently to assume that role.

  • Sinhaya on February 10, 2012, 18:05 GMT

    I think Thilan Samaraweera should be in the side instead of Upul Tharanga

  • foursandsixes on February 10, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    Throughout his career, he has batted well only in domestic / Asian conditions.

  • Charindra on February 10, 2012, 18:39 GMT

    I always thought Mahela was the best captain SL ever had (Arjuna was inferior to him in on field strategy but had a tougher job because of a weaker team), but if he's not making runs it's very difficult to see him as a captain alone. Then the whispers about him accepting the "thorny crown" of SL captaincy just to save his career will get louder and louder.