Jayawardene warns Thirimanne over backing-up too far
Sri Lanka's captain Mahela Jayawardene has warned the batsman Lahiru Thirimanne to keep a check on how far he backs up in Friday's match against Australia. However, Thirimanne might be free to indulge his habit of gaining ground after Australia's captain, Michael Clarke, said he did not believe it should be legal for a bowler to mankad a batsman.
Thirimanne was lucky to be given a reprieve in Tuesday's game against India, when he was mankaded by the spinner R Ashwin, who noticed Thirimanne was backing up a long way out of his crease. The India captain Virender Sehwag withdrew the appeal to avoid criticism over what has traditionally been seen as an unsportsmanlike method of dismissal.
However, Thirimanne did not appear to learn his lesson and continued to leave his crease before the bowler had entered his delivery stride, risking a run-out and gaining an advantage over the fielders by cutting down the distance required to complete a run. Jayawardene said he had discussed the issue with Thirimanne since Tuesday's game and he was confident there would be no repeats.
"I have [spoken to him]," Jayawardene said. "I think there was a bit of fault in him as well. He's a young lad and I'm sure he'll learn from that. We've spoken, definitely.
"I think he can take a start but it's just where he's leaving the crease is probably a bit unfair. He can probably hold himself a bit longer and then take a start, I don't think that's a problem. It's just him understanding exactly what he can do and what he can't do."
The ICC changed its playing conditions last year to allow a bowler to mankad a batsman any time before he had completed the usual delivery swing of his arm. Prior to that, the ICC rule stated that a bowler could only attempt to run out a batsman backing up at the non-striker's end if he did so before he had entered his delivery stride.
Clarke will have a difficult decision to make if Thirimanne continues to back up too far in Friday's match. "I hope he decides to stay in his crease," Clarke said. "I'm glad that nothing has come of it. It's a part of the game I don't like. I don't the mankad rule at all. I don't think you should be able to mankad.
"But in saying that, if somebody is going to be a long way outside their crease, you would hope that by warning them they would understand that the bowler or the fielding captain has asked the batsman to stay in his crease. If he continues to do that, it is in the rules that you can be out like that. But I hope we don't have to worry about it."
Asked if he would have withdrawn the appeal if he was in Sehwag's position, Clarke said: "I'll find out when I'm in that position. Hopefully I'm not."
Sri Lanka went on to win Tuesday's match against India and now have the opportunity to take top spot on the Commonwealth Bank Series points table if they can beat Australia in Hobart. They are coming off a tie and two consecutive victories and Jayawardene said the challenge would be not to fall away after a couple of strong performances.
"After the last couple of games we came back strongly into the tournament so the challenge is to try and be consistent, play the way we've been playing, and make sure we handle certain situations better than the opposition," he said. "We've been quite happy with the progress of the team."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here