England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 4th day June 23, 2014

Jayawardene turns up heat on Cook


Play 01:50
England can't handle the pressure - Mahela Jayawardene

A fired-up Mahela Jayawardene shot barbs at England's tactics at Headingley and questioned their embattled captain's public comments, after Sri Lanka finished day four with a famous away win in sight. The tour has been hard-fought on both sides, with the reporting of Sachithra Senanayake's bowling action and the England response to Jos Buttler's Mankading in the fifth ODI causing the most visible grief in the Sri Lanka camp.

Sri Lanka's bowlers have largely prospered by bowling a fuller length at Headingley, while England's fast bowlers largely bowled shorter. When asked if Sri Lanka had shown England how to bowl seam at the venue, Jayawardene said his side had conveyed that very notion to England's batsmen in the middle.

"Their idea of hurting us and hitting us on the head probably doesn't work," he said. "If you're getting that good length up front, getting the ball to do a bit and being patient, one way or another, people will nick it. I thought we hung in there. We were disciplined enough. We had to get a few hits on our bodies, but I'm sure tomorrow afternoon we'll have a good laugh about it."

The fourth day began with England holding the edge but Angelo Mathews' excellent 160 and an intense four-wicket burst from Dhammika Prasad left the visitors with five wickets to get to complete victory.

"England were quite chirpy in the morning, but they quietened up after the first hour or so," Jayawardene said. "That's part of the game. We know who is on top and who is not. They were quite chirpy yesterday evening as well, and they probably got quite a few from us when they came to bat. They'll definitely get some more in the morning as well.

"Chirping them is something we had spoken about. We've seen that under pressure, they're not quite up to it. So we'll definitely look forward to tomorrow. There's a few young guys to come in and they'll get some sledging."

On the eve of the match, Alastair Cook had said "concerns had been raised" in the England camp when they viewed Senanayake's action on video - a comment which will not have been taken well by the Sri Lanka team, who have rallied around Senanayake since his being reported. But it was Cook's comments about his vocal critic Shane Warne, however, that Jayawardene questioned the wisdom of.

"I definitely feel for him but it doesn't help when you have arguments with commentators and past cricketers. That's something you can't control. You try and control what's there for you, which is trying to perform and carry yourself through."

Cook's unhappy run has continued through the first part of England's summer, with his place in the Test team beginning to look shaky, let alone his captaincy. He has averaged 19.5 in the current series. Jayawardene said: "I always felt as a captain - before you are captain, you are a player. You need contribute to the team. You have 11 guys and you're part of that. You can't think about too many other things."

Sri Lanka have already sewn up the limited-overs series and if they move on to a Test series win on Tuesday, they will have completed an incredible tour. It would also cap off a five-month stretch in which they have won series across all formats in Bangladesh, the Asia Cup and the World T20. Jayawardene suggested the tense nature of the England tour would make a Test win particularly sweet.

"As a team this was always going to be a challenging tour for us," Jayawardene said. "Things have happened, and we were quite comfortable with the way we handled them. At the end of the day our cricket was always going to be looked upon. I think we've played it with the right spirit, and played it very fairly.

"Even coming into the Test series, we knew we had to brace for some of the backlash - which we did. We held our fort together and came back strongly. A lot of credit to the team, to the management, and to the entire group. It's been a long season for us. We haven't stopped since last December. We've been playing cricket pretty much on the road, so if we can get an away Test series win, it would be fantastic going back home."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • VIJAY on June 24, 2014, 19:24 GMT

    @ITJOBSUCKS.....absolutely you are true mate....i also heard that saying by commentators.....pitches were flat, if it is not true, then why SL bowlers struggled on last day of test especially after 5 down on day 4th....anyhow SL performed better than England and secured a series win after very long time.....expecting the same kind of performance by SL after KS, MJ, TD retires from cricket.....now INDIA's turn to beat the England side and INDIA will perform this time better than SL

  • Dummy4 on June 24, 2014, 18:49 GMT

    I think cook is not competent enough to become a good captain. His form has been very poor. How he handled media throughout this tour has been also very poor. Instead of trying to play foolish mind games, he should have been concentrating on doing the job in the field.

  • David on June 24, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    England have never picked the best side, always people are excluded often because they don't doff their caps sufficiently deferentially. Clearly we do need KP.

  • Chris on June 24, 2014, 16:32 GMT

    Sri Lanka shouldn't be too optimistic about future series. They've done really well to come back from a losing position here, thanks partly to some inexplicable tactics and captaincy by Cook. However, but for a ridiculously delayed declaration in the Lords Test, they would have lost by a lot to a very ordinary England team.

  • Dummy4 on June 24, 2014, 15:33 GMT

    At the moment, Sri Lanka are riding on wave of confidence. With WC in Aus and NZ, they can certainly pose a threat. They are playing with no fear. Thats how you should be.. And certainly a team to watch out for against Australia , England, NZ in WC

  • Nitin on June 24, 2014, 14:07 GMT

    ENG are in for a white wash from the Indians as well. MSD and men are more mature than in 2011 and ENG are without KP, Swann and Trott while Cook's captaincy and batting are doing less talking than his foolish reactions to comments on him

  • kent on June 24, 2014, 14:05 GMT

    Let me be the first to salute the magnificent performances of the Sri Lankan team, their efforts on the field of play has been nothing less than outstanding. However I am somewhat bothered by Mahela's mention of using sledging and giving a few back (chirpiness or whatever its called). Sri Lanka has demonstrated over the last five months their all round ability over all formats of the game. As a team, they can rely solely on their performances with bat, ball and fielding to win almost any game and against any opponent. It is a cause for concern to hear from Mahela's viewpoint that it appears that sledging is now a vital part of their strategy as well for winning the game. Even more worrying is his public announcement of it. Does anyone remember the Australians being damned and slammed for the same use of sledging? Is it now a different game and okay for others to do it? Let us hail a team for their excellent use of bat and ball and not their volume of voice and adroitness of lip!!!

  • john on June 24, 2014, 13:21 GMT

    Mahela should know better than to comment on whether England can handle pressure or not and Jarrod Kimber should keep his pathetic thoughts to himself. Its very easy to make damning remarks about a team that's struggling to rebuild ,even for someone with no love for the game, but it doesn't help anyone and certainly doesn't promote positive thinking and well being in the team or the supporters. If watching England play cricket induces such feelings in Kimber may I politely suggest that he stops watching it and finds another pass-time.

  • Rakesh on June 24, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    Don't worry Eng. fans, Cook would be again scoring double centuries, let the first test again India begin. Its well known fact that any players who are out of touch gets their form back against India. No when Its comes to his leadership skills well he is worthless, he has no clue whatsoever we have seen this in the drubbing the pomies got in Australia. He only won last year against Aussies because Aussies were going through a rough patch. Also, in India they won because of KP. But again they might win against the Indians because Dhoni is also a lackluster captain when it comes to Test cricket.

  • Dummy4 on June 24, 2014, 12:39 GMT

    England are in a huge huge hole, tactically Cook has to be the worst captain in a while, and he was slated by Mark Butcher and Bob Willis in the Verdict.

    The sacking of KP-because he saw Cook's ineptness in Australia and was vocal about it- is akin to shooting the messenger. The only probable replacement for Cook as skipper would be Broad, but anyone would be better than Cook at the moment, and Moores [who got the job to ensure the permanent exclusion of KP] was also a very wrong decision.

    ECB are going to have to eat huge humble pie, especially if the series is lost, and then India win, and make huge changes, ie, Moores/Cook combination. Cook should personally resign, he is not capable of leadership

    get Troot, KP and Stokes back in the side asap, and find a specialist spinner too

  • No featured comments at the moment.