England v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Trent Bridge, 4th day June 5, 2006

'It feels like a series win' - Jayawardene



Mahela Jayawardene didn't rule out Muttiah Muralitharan's participation in the 2010 series in England, but said 'I think we should enjoy him as he is right now' © Getty Images

Sri Lanka's captain, Mahela Jayawardene, said that Sri Lanka's drawn series felt more like a win after the manner in which they surged to victory in the third Test at Trent Bridge, and he called on his young team to treat the result as a springboard for further success.

"The result is much sweeter because of the way we fought," said Jayawardene. "Lord's was where we kept the series alive. We made a lot of mistakes at Edgbaston, by not putting enough runs on the board, but here we didn't let them loose in the first innings, we batted well in second innings, and gave Murali a good score to bowl at. It was a brilliant effort from the whole team.

"In a way, it feels like a win," he added. "We came here to compete but were pushed back from the first Test onwards. But we've come back in the series and the draw is great, so I'm pretty happy with the guys. But let's not go overboard. We will enjoy the next couple of days but we'll have the focus and be ready for the next series.

"It's just another brick in the wall," he added in an unexpected Pink Floyd reference, although given all the selectorial meddling that has overshadowed this series, he'd be entitled to sing the refrain: Leave the kids alone. "We're not going to get over-confident with what we've achieved," he added. "If we keep going in the right direction I'm sure we can improve ourselves as a team.

Though Jayawardene had praise for all his players, he reserved special mention for the man of the hour, Muralitharan, whose stunning figures of 8 for 70 took his phenomenal tally to 635 Test wickets. "I've been watching him for the last eight years, and he's a genius at work. He knows exactly the areas to bowl in, but the best thing is his consistency. He asks questions from the batsmen all the time."

"He's a different guy," Jayawardene continued. "He has enthusiasm and hunger for cricket, and the way he's bowling he could walk up to the crease and pick up wickets. Personally I feel very honoured to play with him in the side. You can see his character, he is a very, very nice guy, and I'm very proud to be part of his group."

As to Murali's long-term future, Sri Lanka are not due to tour again for another four years, but Jayawardene did not rule out his return to England in 2010. "It's all to do with what he wants to do," he explained. "He's doing brilliantly and his motivation is great, but I think we should enjoy him as he is right now."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo