March 3, 2012

The captain Sri Lanka have needed

Mahela Jayawardene has turned Sri Lanka's performance around in a matter of a month. The young players he backed have rewarded his faith in this tri-series
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"Every country needs to have the best captain, and the best captain in Sri Lanka is Mahela Jayawardene, and I think everybody knows that," Geoff Marsh said at the end of his brief stint as head coach.

In March 2009, Jayawardene's first captaincy stint hit an abrupt blockade, figuratively and literally, when Sri Lanka's bus came under attack in Lahore. Three years of a different sort of tumult later, he is back at the helm. As the nine-run win in Melbourne and Sri Lanka's progression to the triangular series final proved, it's a job he should never have left.

Severely crippled by the loss of two major links in the bowling attack (who also happen to be two of the side's best fielders), Sri Lanka's defence of 238, on a surface that offered little for the pacemen and even less for spinners, was nothing short of a heist. Jayawardene didn't simply limit damage when he turned to part-timers who hadn't bowled through the entire competition - and in Lahiru Thirimanne's case, never before in ODIs. Stacked ring fields conveyed a clear mandate to the makeshift attack, allowed even the most pedestrian operator to become a wicket-taking threat.

Jayawardene's efficient use of Lasith Malinga was perhaps the captaincy highlight in an innings dripping with the stuff. Resisting the temptation to bring Malinga on to halt Shane Watson's ominous association with Michael Hussey, he waited until the ball was older before probing for that heavy blow. In the second over of his second spell, Malinga produced a tailing yorker as unplayable as any in the match, to uproot Watson's middle stump. Had he been introduced earlier and the reverse swing been less pronounced, Watson, batting on a half-century, may well have dug it out.

Throughout the evening, the field placings were bold and the mood impeccable. A leg gully - a startling rarity in Tests, let alone limited-overs cricket - shut down the leg side for David Hussey. The in-out fields for James Pattinson and Clint McKay ensured any dents they made into the target would have to be hard-earned and well thought-out. The short, straight cover that ambushed David Warner at the top of the innings, was an almost forgotten piece of trickery after the thrill of the finish.

All this too, following that crushing loss to India in Hobart. Losing after having made 320 is disheartening enough, but the manner in which Sri Lanka were mauled made for one of the most deflating losses in recent memory. Jayawardene himself admitted it had taken 24 hours to move on. But three nights after the Bellerive horror, Sri Lanka delivered their most tenacious defensive effort in the tournament. Jayawardene's ability to haul a young attack out of its funk and prepare it for a virtual final is almost as impressive as his craft on the occasion.

The emphasis on youngsters, and their subsequent success, is a Jayawardene hallmark. In 2006, he kept faith in Chamara Silva after the batsman collected a Test pair on debut, even as critics in Sri Lanka clamoured for a more experienced batsman to take his spot. Silva made 61 and 152 not out in the next match to ensure a series-levelling win. Upul Tharanga was under similar scrutiny during the 2007 World Cup before going on to score 73 from 74 in the World Cup semi-final and contribute heavily to the campaign in the subcontinent four years later.

After years of being two ODI batsmen short of a formidable middle order, in 22-year-olds Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne, Sri Lanka finally have players who can ease the pressure on the three big top-order bats.

Thisara Perera, too, has made the second allrounder's spot his own. That Chandimal and Perera have finished near the top of the tournament run-getters' and wicket-takers' lists respectively is testament, in part, to their talent, but also to Jayawardene's gentle hand that has coaxed the best out of them.

After nine months of woeful collapses, listless long spells in the field and off-field drama to rival Pakistan, Sri Lanka are again looking like the side who battled to two consecutive World Cup finals, and were once within (however undeservingly) a game of the top Test spot. Under Jayawardene, the side is focused and hungry again. Even without Muttiah Muralitharan, the bowling has rediscovered a penetrative edge and the batsmen are constructing innings as a group. And as ten run-outs in eight matches show, the fielding has been on par with Australia's. A side that couldn't muster competence in any discipline in Paarl seven weeks ago is now excelling in all three. The speed of transformation under the new leader has been mind-boggling.

Kumar Sangakkara made an admirable attempt at navigating the unique challenges the Sri Lankan captaincy presents, but a limited tolerance for those who did not operate to the same high standards he set for himself shortened the span of his captaincy, while his reliance on intellect over nous limited the effectiveness of his leadership. Under Jayawardene, Sri Lanka have resumed the aggressive, unrestrained, mirthful style that once characterised their cricket. In fact, with him at the top of the innings, the 1996 blueprint that bred the Sri Lankan brand of cricket seems reborn. With a keen finger on the pulse of an innings, a fine temperament and a desire to build for the future, Jayawardene has all the makings of a great captain. Perhaps he already is one.

Andrew Fernando writes for The Pigeon and has a column here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shpratik on March 4, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    I think Jayawardene is the most overrated player. Worst captain and worst person when it comes to sportsmanship. It was a shame to read when he said about cricket teams reaching finals one the basis of "favours". That was shameful act. By his thinking then I must say that SL are in the finals because of the favour by Australia by loosing the last league match. Grow up ou Sri lankan cricketers.

    I would rate him as most overrated captain and most arrogant person.

  • LMalla on March 4, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    Good to see some interesting analysis of MJs captaincy, the bottom line is MJ won the ICCs prestigious 'captain of the year ' award during his last tenure and these days you constantly hear wonderful comments on his expertise in field settings and bowling changes from more qualified commentators such as Tony Greig ,Ian Healy and Co.

  • Cannuck on March 4, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    @ bhaloniaz: Yeah right. You are the expert on bowling changes, & why you are typing on a keyboard & MJ is winning matches. Don't quit your day job buddy!

  • bhaloniaz on March 4, 2012, 3:22 GMT

    His bowling changes are awkward ineffective. Even awekward changes sometimes bring result. He ran out of his luck. Perera and Kula can swing, Malinga is usually great in ODI, Mathew is economical. Among them two hardhitting batsmen. Srilanka should do well. He takes off his bowler in the middle of a good spell. He is a great person and a very talented batsman. He should let Kula, Perera, Herath or Mathew bowl longer spell when they are bowling well. Clark on the other hand is a brilliant captain.

  • NALINWIJ on March 4, 2012, 1:27 GMT

    Good article. Sri Lanka did not have a good captain until Arjuna came back as a captain in 1995. Arjuna is a great leader but was not a great tactician.When SL had Mahela and Sanga they had 2 great captains but Mahela has a greater tactical nous to match great Australian captains like Benaud, Ian Chappell and Mark Taylor We are seen a great SL captain against Micheal Clarke who is tactically very sound and has the making of a long line of great Aussie captains.BRING ON THE FINALS!!!

  • johnathonjosephs on March 4, 2012, 1:14 GMT

    Jayawardene is a way better captain than Dhoni. He defended 230 on the same flat pitch against Dhoni who only managed to tie. How incredible is that? The field placings for this ODI was incredible. In the 40th over, he had A SLIP AND A SHORT LEG for the batsman. Incredible thinker and pulled a win out of nowhere on sheer captaincy. Wasim Akram, the legend, has said that Mahela is the best captain in the world and Malinga is the best ODI bowler

  • miles100 on March 4, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    In his previous captaincy 3-4 years ago the only issue he had was not being aggressive with field settings and he had less control over the side I think because there were about 5 or 6 players who were more senior to him. At present he has more aggressive and tactical with his field settings and he has the support of all the youngsters and the seniors as he is the most senior and experienced in the side.Everyone looks up to him like Arjuna. If he wants to continue this way hope he can maintain this peak for the next 3 years while maintaining his desire for the job, batting form and fitness. It all depends on how he feels about it in 1 year whether to continue or not.

  • Philip_Gnana on March 3, 2012, 23:52 GMT

    Calm, unassuming and modest. That is the impression he gives, but behind that appearance is a cunning, calculating and and astute mind. You never see him talking things up or playing mind games. His composure right throughout the games gives encouragement to the youngsters who are looking towards him for guidance, encouragement and support. They have seen him work his magic and have his trust. Arjuna Ranatunga was other who had these characteristics too. Nice write up here Andrew. Keep them rolling in. Philip Gnana, Surrey

  • Tanaka_Yakuza on March 3, 2012, 23:43 GMT

    Looks like a paid advertisement by Mahela, the most overrated Sri Lankan caption, EVER. We all saw his dumb tactics helped Indians to chase our target of 320 in 36 overs ! No short pitch balls to Raina & co, gave Ranagana just 5 overs when he was the best bowler on that day, never give a ball to Dilshan when it was obvious there was nothing for our medium pacers, pathetic defensive field placement when we had to attack. could go on and go on. Mahela is just overrated. yes we won many games under him, but that wasnt because of his, overrated, leadership skills. it was purely due to individual brilliance of our players, mainly great Murali & Vas and of course that Ajanthan lad in some games. We won our first major test win outside sub continent when Dilshan was leading, we won both games, chasing 300+ when Mahela wasnt even playing, let alone captioning. Mahelas using, or non-using I would rather say, of Malinga is PATHETIC. What a hilarious article !

  • gularan on March 3, 2012, 23:27 GMT

    Andrew bro, a lilting piece if ever there was one, mate the meat I have to beat with the SL team is about their appalling run- outs which occur among the first three batsmen on a regular basis which gives the opponents a huge mental lift. It also acts as a double whammy because it will be one of SL's premiere batsmen who get out in this fashion. They got to address this instanter if they are to win this trophy. Nothing else gives you palpitation than to see MJ or Sanga or Dil walking away dejectedly with their tail between you know what !!!

  • shpratik on March 4, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    I think Jayawardene is the most overrated player. Worst captain and worst person when it comes to sportsmanship. It was a shame to read when he said about cricket teams reaching finals one the basis of "favours". That was shameful act. By his thinking then I must say that SL are in the finals because of the favour by Australia by loosing the last league match. Grow up ou Sri lankan cricketers.

    I would rate him as most overrated captain and most arrogant person.

  • LMalla on March 4, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    Good to see some interesting analysis of MJs captaincy, the bottom line is MJ won the ICCs prestigious 'captain of the year ' award during his last tenure and these days you constantly hear wonderful comments on his expertise in field settings and bowling changes from more qualified commentators such as Tony Greig ,Ian Healy and Co.

  • Cannuck on March 4, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    @ bhaloniaz: Yeah right. You are the expert on bowling changes, & why you are typing on a keyboard & MJ is winning matches. Don't quit your day job buddy!

  • bhaloniaz on March 4, 2012, 3:22 GMT

    His bowling changes are awkward ineffective. Even awekward changes sometimes bring result. He ran out of his luck. Perera and Kula can swing, Malinga is usually great in ODI, Mathew is economical. Among them two hardhitting batsmen. Srilanka should do well. He takes off his bowler in the middle of a good spell. He is a great person and a very talented batsman. He should let Kula, Perera, Herath or Mathew bowl longer spell when they are bowling well. Clark on the other hand is a brilliant captain.

  • NALINWIJ on March 4, 2012, 1:27 GMT

    Good article. Sri Lanka did not have a good captain until Arjuna came back as a captain in 1995. Arjuna is a great leader but was not a great tactician.When SL had Mahela and Sanga they had 2 great captains but Mahela has a greater tactical nous to match great Australian captains like Benaud, Ian Chappell and Mark Taylor We are seen a great SL captain against Micheal Clarke who is tactically very sound and has the making of a long line of great Aussie captains.BRING ON THE FINALS!!!

  • johnathonjosephs on March 4, 2012, 1:14 GMT

    Jayawardene is a way better captain than Dhoni. He defended 230 on the same flat pitch against Dhoni who only managed to tie. How incredible is that? The field placings for this ODI was incredible. In the 40th over, he had A SLIP AND A SHORT LEG for the batsman. Incredible thinker and pulled a win out of nowhere on sheer captaincy. Wasim Akram, the legend, has said that Mahela is the best captain in the world and Malinga is the best ODI bowler

  • miles100 on March 4, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    In his previous captaincy 3-4 years ago the only issue he had was not being aggressive with field settings and he had less control over the side I think because there were about 5 or 6 players who were more senior to him. At present he has more aggressive and tactical with his field settings and he has the support of all the youngsters and the seniors as he is the most senior and experienced in the side.Everyone looks up to him like Arjuna. If he wants to continue this way hope he can maintain this peak for the next 3 years while maintaining his desire for the job, batting form and fitness. It all depends on how he feels about it in 1 year whether to continue or not.

  • Philip_Gnana on March 3, 2012, 23:52 GMT

    Calm, unassuming and modest. That is the impression he gives, but behind that appearance is a cunning, calculating and and astute mind. You never see him talking things up or playing mind games. His composure right throughout the games gives encouragement to the youngsters who are looking towards him for guidance, encouragement and support. They have seen him work his magic and have his trust. Arjuna Ranatunga was other who had these characteristics too. Nice write up here Andrew. Keep them rolling in. Philip Gnana, Surrey

  • Tanaka_Yakuza on March 3, 2012, 23:43 GMT

    Looks like a paid advertisement by Mahela, the most overrated Sri Lankan caption, EVER. We all saw his dumb tactics helped Indians to chase our target of 320 in 36 overs ! No short pitch balls to Raina & co, gave Ranagana just 5 overs when he was the best bowler on that day, never give a ball to Dilshan when it was obvious there was nothing for our medium pacers, pathetic defensive field placement when we had to attack. could go on and go on. Mahela is just overrated. yes we won many games under him, but that wasnt because of his, overrated, leadership skills. it was purely due to individual brilliance of our players, mainly great Murali & Vas and of course that Ajanthan lad in some games. We won our first major test win outside sub continent when Dilshan was leading, we won both games, chasing 300+ when Mahela wasnt even playing, let alone captioning. Mahelas using, or non-using I would rather say, of Malinga is PATHETIC. What a hilarious article !

  • gularan on March 3, 2012, 23:27 GMT

    Andrew bro, a lilting piece if ever there was one, mate the meat I have to beat with the SL team is about their appalling run- outs which occur among the first three batsmen on a regular basis which gives the opponents a huge mental lift. It also acts as a double whammy because it will be one of SL's premiere batsmen who get out in this fashion. They got to address this instanter if they are to win this trophy. Nothing else gives you palpitation than to see MJ or Sanga or Dil walking away dejectedly with their tail between you know what !!!

  • sports99 on March 3, 2012, 23:06 GMT

    I am an Indian but strong supporter of Sri Linka in this CB series. 2 things to note MJ is good captain in the match that lost to India too but just it's Kohli's superior batting and in the Aus match I feel the wicket of Shane Watson is the turning point on the match with good reverse swinging ball. Anyway all the best for SL and hope they win the Title and if you look at history the SLankans in general are good in beating AUS with Spin attack even when AUS are the world champs.

  • on March 3, 2012, 22:40 GMT

    Yes, we can say that Mahela is "one of the best" on captaincy in the team. But it`s bit premature to tell that "Mahela is the best". He has to show more of his capabilities to win the title. Geoff has no right to declare the captaincy about the team. You should not forget the past of the team. Any way I wish all the best for Mahela to prove the Geoff`s statement in time to come. ----wickeyag----

  • SL_kamal on March 3, 2012, 22:26 GMT

    Rubbish....!! This is how most people want to see it & how media want to market it.They think MJ has changed everything over a month & the team is winning just because of him.If someone has at least a small cricketing brain knows that is not possible.Yes MJ is a better captain than Dili but he is not a magician.

    Reason for everything is the unity in the SL team.Specially the unity between the three seniors: MJ, Sanga & Dili. They lead the team as a unit and most importantly plan for future as a unit.

    Yes Dili couldn't win a Test for 9 months. But when he did it was something that no SL captain has ever did(Test win in SA). If not for the rain effected 3rd ODI, he might be the 1st SL captain to win an ODI series in SA. The same set of youngsters (Chandimal, Thirimanne & Perera) were playing match winning roles during the SA tour too. So that's how they got their experience & confidence to perform as they are doing now in AUS. They needed time to get settled.No other magic can do that.

  • LMalla on March 3, 2012, 21:34 GMT

    Fully Agree with FineLeg, Sr iLankan media (certain English newspapers) were responsible for Mahela's early exit from captaincy few years ago. Hope they will respect to this great cricketer, 'a captain par excellence' in this instance.

  • vk6848 on March 3, 2012, 21:20 GMT

    With just two outstanding players (S'kara & Malinga) SL have one well above expectations. India are the opposite- thrashing SL once in an ODI cannot erase the multiple thrashings received in England & Australia. As a person who loves the beauty of Sachin (he actually played well) VVS & Dravid it was painful watching matches in Australia. So it is true that Jayawardena the captain has been the difference-- but it should not be forgotten that he used giving up the captaincy as a means to stay in the team some 4 years ago; anyone else would have been dropped. Even before this tour he was drop material! However one cannot deny that he has produced scores here and there, like any one time star player would, only, things become less frequent.

  • Tusker17 on March 3, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    Every player, captain, team and for that matter every human being goes through ups and downs in life.

    Now that being said, I'm fortunate and happy to have been witness to this man's great career. From one of the best cricketers of school's 2nd XI, to one of Nalanda's finest, to the best School boy cricketer, to collecting numerous Man of the Match awards even at schooling level especially duringthe Coca Cola Knock Outs, to Sri Lanka's finest (Behind only in ODI's to SJ), to an accomplished all round player and individual on and off the field and to the best captain (Perhaps AR was better considering the odds he battled, I dont know) to being the top captain of cricketing sides in the world !

    He's just been superb, brilliant, marvelous !!!

    Yet another fine product of the "said" schooling system and Mother Lanka !

    Keep going MJ, you aint done yet !!! Cheers.....

  • KingOwl on March 3, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    I have no major problems with the praise given here. But, let's not over do it. This is a common problem with journalists. They go way over the top in praise and in criticism. SL were never bad over the last few months. They had tough tours of England (in the Spring, mind you, and drew two test, whereas the then #1 side India were whitewashed by the English), Pakistan( where two tests were drawn, one near win, whereas Pakistan white-washed the #1 test team England), and SA (where SL won their first ever test match and came close to winning the one day series). So, let's get some facts right. Off field dramas were bad, the team was NOT! The team was on the brink of a major turn around and they have made it now.

  • Cannuck on March 3, 2012, 18:52 GMT

    @MyFineLeg: Spot on my friend. Great to some like me do not forget the past. Our fans who praise MJ when he wins have fickle memories, as he was highly criticized by the end of his first Captaincy. It was a reason along with administrative meddling that led to him stepping down at the time. No individual will have success all the time, ever. We as fans need to understand & support them through tough times, without throwing them under the bus, for our own impatience. I also do not know why some who comment here are compelled to bring Dilly's name into this. This article is about MJ's brilliance & not Dilly's failures. By defending his captaincy when it's not required, U are doing a dis-service to a good player. For the couple of INDIANS commenting here, I know it hurts, but please get over it. There's no need to bring Dhoni into the conversation. It's like apple & oranges, MJ is far ahead! Ditto to Balumekka as well, U have said exactly what was in my mind. Leaders are born, & MJ is #1.

  • Lallubhai on March 3, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    Mahela is an excellent captain but Ranatunga was even better .

  • GreenGoat on March 3, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    Sanga was good, Mahela is better. Mahela's a nice guy so off-field events rile him up - in SL, u have a lot of that from the board, ex-players and newspapers... hope people keep faith in him even when we hit a low patch someday in the future... he's sensitive that way, unlike Sanga who's couldnt care less abt what everyone else thought... however, Mahela was always a better tactician than sanga on the field... always felt that captaincy, keeping and no. 3 bat was just too much burden, and i think we have hit a good balance with Dilly and Sanga supporting Mahela...

  • on March 3, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    Nice to see youngsters taking the mantle of the team.Now let us hope they make contribution in tests too.

  • on March 3, 2012, 17:05 GMT

    Mahela is the best captain. Wish Sri lankan team all the best .

  • on March 3, 2012, 17:05 GMT

    Mahela is the best captain. Wish Sri lankan team all the best .

  • ranilb on March 3, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    Each captain has his own leading style. What is most important is how much effective he/she can be in getting the best out of the team, in addition to setting up the direction strategically. Arjuna, the legendary captain of Sri Lankan cricket did the impossible when Sri Lanka was not considered that seriously in world cricket. Mahela became the missing leader Sri Lanka have been looking for since Arjuna had left. A unique feature of his leadership style is high moral standards. Sanga provided a great leadership continuing what Mahela had introduced joining the group elite leaders of Sri Lankan cricket. It is great to see Mahela is rescuing the Sri Lankan team that was sinking without a solid leadership. During his short tenure should put more effort on breeding the future captain for Sri Lankan cricket.

  • nickydude on March 3, 2012, 16:46 GMT

    Good Stuff from MJ. From what we can make out, Sanga seems to be the problem. Look at Dilshan perform under Mahela & under Sanga, hell of a difference. which means more than Dilshan, Sanga was a prob in the dressing room, incl all his success, more than Dilshan.

  • Mr.Khb on March 3, 2012, 16:23 GMT

    Mahela is a captain who know how exactly to use his teams talent. Even in under preassure he knows to work things out.And he studies about the game and he never gives up till the final ball of the match!Thats what a team needs from a captain.

  • on March 3, 2012, 16:07 GMT

    there's not doubt. He's definitely the best !!

  • on March 3, 2012, 15:55 GMT

    Mahela deserves all the praise he gets and more, but let's not be unfair to the efforts of Dilshan who accepted the challenge, given inadequate resources in talent and at a time the whole thing was in shambles. And if we want to tie the team's performance to captaincy let's not forget we turned a corner during SA series with Durban win and the two big chases in ODI.

  • stormy16 on March 3, 2012, 15:47 GMT

    Agreed that Mahela is a good captain and he always thinks about the game which is what differentiates the good from the average. Its easy to captain any side that is full of talent but another to lead a team with limited resources. Mahela has already shown he is able to work with what little he has. Its a shame that he had to step down - he could have been a captain for a long time already if the administration of SLC had nutured SLC properly.

  • mfer on March 3, 2012, 15:39 GMT

    Very good article by Andrew again..I think MJ has improved a lot as a captain in his second time around. He was ok in his first helm but his time he is much more proactive and make things happen on the field. Well done MJ keep up the good work..All the best to the Lions!

  • on March 3, 2012, 15:22 GMT

    but since the IPL, i doubt his 'captaincy abilitie's against India. that we'll see at the Asia Cup!

  • praveenchopra on March 3, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    dhoni is the best captain

  • playitstraight on March 3, 2012, 15:03 GMT

    Mahela was always a great captain, and the greatest SL ever had. Kumar Sangakkara was also a great captain, but not as good as Mahela. He didn't have the attacking fields and what not when he captained the side. Happy to see Mahela captaining and hope he can continue to do so.

  • Dam_Nava on March 3, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    Well said Mr. Fernando. We should not forget that Dilshan also had the same members but it was the transitional period of the Sri Lankan team. We should not write him-off. Mahela has shown the tactical leadership qualities ... he is GREAT. However the sad part of views and FANS of Sri Lanka cricket wrote pathetic comments when we lost to India. They all forgot that we batted very well ... and it was India's day. All the chances (catches) given by the Indian batsman fell between fielders. Win after that with Aussies shows the caliber of our team. We should be able to accept the winning and loosing occasions

  • MyFineLeg on March 3, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    Hope the SriLankan media will support Mahela when he does not succeed too. During the last stages of his previous captaincy tenure, a certain English newspaper hounded him.

  • on March 3, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    yeah MJ is the best captain in the world

  • on March 3, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    It is excellent article about Mahela ...but could not agree about the last paragraph about Sanga. Yes he was not tolerant when players were not up to the standards but he learned his trade and brought the best of the players. Nothing shorten his span as Captain but he step down against the Corrupt SLC officers. Yes he is not good Tactician like Mahela but kept his own blue print as a Captain who brought the best out of a player.And the support he extend to Mahela while been behind the wicket makes Mahelas' work more easier and can not measure even in GOLD.its so precious.

  • on March 3, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    Well Done Mahiya, Proud to be a Nalandian...

  • Herath-UK on March 3, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    Let results speak for themselves by winning several trophies. Ranil Herath - Kent

  • dhanuhskaS on March 3, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    A well-written article, reflecting the true potential of captain MJ. Hats off to him for his courageous battle at MCG to make sure SL is in the Finals.! The gravity of challenges he faced and the way he handled them is the hallmark of his captaincy. Certainly, this will wipe-off the rare letup happened in Hobart. Three CHEERS ..for Captain MJ and SL boys.!!!

  • on March 3, 2012, 13:39 GMT

    Best captain sri lanka has,Maybe second to only ranatunga!

  • on March 3, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    It is great to see top three brains work together without any hangups.They are great in their own way and out of them Mahela is the smartest tactician.It is interesting to see how fortunes turn as everyone including myself were doubting his place in the team just few months back.After all,MJ has found the winning formula again and Dilly and Sanga backing him is an added bonus.It is young blood guided by MJ and give some credit to Dilly as well as he who guided us in winning last two games in SA which was the beginning of the change.

  • on March 3, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    true story ...He's the best

  • tennakoon63 on March 3, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    Good write up Andrew. Agree with your observation that Mahela is "The" best captain Sri Lanka ever had. He encourages the youngsters and gives the moral suppor.

  • Balumekka on March 3, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    Mahela is a born leader. What a true leader does is operating, other players voluntarily come to him and perform at their best. That is what exactly happening with SL team. If you compare the list of SL players with IND, very few stars are in SL team, they are not paid they deserved. STILL THEY PERFORM FOR THE COUNTRY!

  • guru1 on March 3, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    I think sl should not forget Dilshans efforts ....... but i agree that Mahela handles the team better than him !!!!!!!!!

  • on March 3, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    Mahela is the best current captain by far, tactically his decision making is a immaculate. He's a real thinker of bowling changes and fielding placements

  • on March 3, 2012, 12:12 GMT

    The other day Mahela's comment that Indian victory had more to do with SL wayward nature than Indian on-slaught was one of the worst ever comments in recent times. If indeed he said (some sites give some ludicurous piece of info). Let us not jump to a conclusion on SL's ascension right away. Coz one, out of 4 matches against WC India they won only one and had unfair advantage of umpires to tie another one. Any Indian would say, SL has won against Oz because it would be difficult to face up to India in India. SL's ascension has a lot to do with Jayawardene batting, which he did not show during his non-captaincy stint.Guess he is nothing more than a cunning player. Malinga and Malinga is the only difference to this team. He leaves, SL would be in tatters. A 2-0 whomping in the finals is expected. If at all he does a Dhoni, then he may indeed be the captain SL needs. But one question, why did he not perform every match when he was not a captain?

  • Dhushan on March 3, 2012, 12:06 GMT

    The last Sri Lankan victory was simply an outstanding team effort. Sangakkara, Chandimal & Thirimanne all scored 50+ scores. Malinga got four wickets. Dilshan took three catches & was involved in a run out. And Jayawardene's field placement, bowler changing was brilliant. Great captaincy by him. It's simply wonderful to see a team gelling together to be victorious! All the best in the future Sri Lanka!

  • on March 3, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    In the words of Lao-Tzu "A leader is best When people barely know he exists, When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, They will say: We did it ourselves." Perhaps he already is indeed..

  • on March 3, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    truly a magnificent leader of men and a great person! c'mon Mahela c'mon Sri Lanka!

  • VK_MSD_IND_Champs on March 3, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    MAHELA JAYAWARDENE IS THE BEST CAPTAIN IN THE CRICKETING WORLD AT PRESENT.HE DOES NOT HAVE ANY "STARS" OR "GODS" IN HIS TEAM,BUT STILL HE'S USING HIS TROOPS LIKE AN ARTIST..AN ARTISTIC CAPTAIN..A GENUINE CHARACTER..EVEN THOUGH THERE WERE SOME TOUGH UMPIRING DECISIONS THAT WENT AGAINST HIM,AT THE PRESS,HE DIDN'T ACCUSE OR POINT OUT LIKE THE WAY OTHERS(DHONI) DID.A GENUINE CAPTAIN..A MARVELOUS CHARACTER..A TRUE "GENTLEMAN"..

  • nilakshan.anand on March 3, 2012, 11:24 GMT

    jayawardene was the perfect captain that srilanka needed indeed.after a gloomy year srilanka back on hunt..wish u the luck continues.

  • vijujack on March 3, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    Mahela's incisive captaincy moves were a treat to watch- quite similar to Warne's moves in IPL. He was always planning and plotting things making the batsmen guess their next move carefully and forced them into defensive mindset. This is what makes the game of cricket exciting, rather than defensive mindset of most captains. Having a leg slip for most of the OZ innings was sheer brilliance, as also keeping Perera close which forced Warner to go for his shot to scare the fielder away. We all know the end result. What was remarkable was that Mahela never lost focus even when losing 2 of his all rounders- instead he made effective use of part timers. In toto it was brilliant captaincy that won the match for SL.

  • Master_Mihil on March 3, 2012, 11:21 GMT

    All the mahela praises sometimes get's the bad of dilshan. Dilshan may not be a supreme leader, but he handled the inexperienced team very well overseas, we may have lost but he limited the damage we would have been got our selves into by our young squad. Loosing to England in tests 1-0 when india lost 4-0 in the same time period is an achievement which speaks for itself. And it was after both front line pacers were injured in the practice matches. And he admirably led Srilanka to win last 2 matches in SA chasing over 300 runs. He nurtured SL team until the better tactician got reins over SL cricket.

  • on March 3, 2012, 11:16 GMT

    true..........not only the best in sri lanka best in world at the moment.........master tactician

  • Master_Mihil on March 3, 2012, 11:15 GMT

    Great Essay to read, A masterpiece from Andrew Fernando!!

  • on March 3, 2012, 11:01 GMT

    well done Mahela!!! You truely are a champion!

  • Sinhabahu on March 3, 2012, 10:18 GMT

    The army's loss is cricket's gain. With an acute tactical mind like that, Mahela would have made a superb field commander.

  • yorkslanka on March 3, 2012, 10:09 GMT

    Tactically,Mahela is possibly the best captain in world cricket.what he lacked before was the killer instinct and ruthlessness that Sanga brought as captain..both were very good....

  • on March 3, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    MJ is easily the best captain SL have ever produced. His acute cricketing brain along with his temperament, brilliant man management and situation handling are major credentials that has got this job for him. Wish he will continue this job for two years or so till another MJ is emerged.

  • on March 3, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    testing comments api on fb

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  • on March 3, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    testing comments api on fb

  • on March 3, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    MJ is easily the best captain SL have ever produced. His acute cricketing brain along with his temperament, brilliant man management and situation handling are major credentials that has got this job for him. Wish he will continue this job for two years or so till another MJ is emerged.

  • yorkslanka on March 3, 2012, 10:09 GMT

    Tactically,Mahela is possibly the best captain in world cricket.what he lacked before was the killer instinct and ruthlessness that Sanga brought as captain..both were very good....

  • Sinhabahu on March 3, 2012, 10:18 GMT

    The army's loss is cricket's gain. With an acute tactical mind like that, Mahela would have made a superb field commander.

  • on March 3, 2012, 11:01 GMT

    well done Mahela!!! You truely are a champion!

  • Master_Mihil on March 3, 2012, 11:15 GMT

    Great Essay to read, A masterpiece from Andrew Fernando!!

  • on March 3, 2012, 11:16 GMT

    true..........not only the best in sri lanka best in world at the moment.........master tactician

  • Master_Mihil on March 3, 2012, 11:21 GMT

    All the mahela praises sometimes get's the bad of dilshan. Dilshan may not be a supreme leader, but he handled the inexperienced team very well overseas, we may have lost but he limited the damage we would have been got our selves into by our young squad. Loosing to England in tests 1-0 when india lost 4-0 in the same time period is an achievement which speaks for itself. And it was after both front line pacers were injured in the practice matches. And he admirably led Srilanka to win last 2 matches in SA chasing over 300 runs. He nurtured SL team until the better tactician got reins over SL cricket.

  • vijujack on March 3, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    Mahela's incisive captaincy moves were a treat to watch- quite similar to Warne's moves in IPL. He was always planning and plotting things making the batsmen guess their next move carefully and forced them into defensive mindset. This is what makes the game of cricket exciting, rather than defensive mindset of most captains. Having a leg slip for most of the OZ innings was sheer brilliance, as also keeping Perera close which forced Warner to go for his shot to scare the fielder away. We all know the end result. What was remarkable was that Mahela never lost focus even when losing 2 of his all rounders- instead he made effective use of part timers. In toto it was brilliant captaincy that won the match for SL.

  • nilakshan.anand on March 3, 2012, 11:24 GMT

    jayawardene was the perfect captain that srilanka needed indeed.after a gloomy year srilanka back on hunt..wish u the luck continues.