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'Competition for places is very tough' - Jayawardene

August 21, 2009

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Mahela Jayawardene is solid in defense, Karachi, February 20, 2009
Mahela Jayawardene: "Give yourself imaginary fields in the nets so you can practice manoeuvring the ball into the gaps" © AFP
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Players/Officials: Mahela Jayawardene

From: S.Y
Mahela, I want to know if the Ghosts of the Pakistan Tour are somewhat healed for the SriLankan players, especially those who played in the IPL. Is that all like a bad dream now?

Yes, all that is in the past now and we are focused on the present.

From: Guru
You are a good finisher when you are a set batsman.....do you feel you should get down at one down and spend enough time on the crease so that you are set, particularly when your team is chasing? Lasith Malinga is very good at delivering the yorkers...so how about him bowling his four overs towards the game's second half(14,16,18,20) when everybody is trying to score at a faster rate....I think he can be very helpful at the death......

The easiest place to bat is as an opener or No 3 on most pitches nowadays, unless there is some early moisture. You get the chance to make use of the fielding restrictions to get your innings started. But the best place for me depends on the team requirements and I am very flexible about my batting position. I'll bat wherever Sanga and the coach want me to bat.

With Lasith, he is good at the death and we usually save overs for the end of the innings. But he also has a knack of swinging the new ball and taking a wicket in the first over. We use him as a strike bowler throughout the innings and that strategy has been successful.

From: Suresh Balaji
With the T20 trend on a high, is it necessary for the Test format to revive itself to (under the lights) to keep it (not alive) but amongst the audience. Obviously test cricket is what the soul of the game is.

Yes, Test cricket needs to evolve and the administrators need to be imaginative. Playing under lights is an interesting idea, which may work in some countries at specific times of the year. But the problem of the white ball remains because it moves around more than the red ball and it will not last 80 overs. The manufacturers need to find a solution for that. We can also look at a Test Championship and better scheduling - for example, end the two-match Test series and also make it mandatory for each team to play a minimum of 10 Tests per year.

From: Ayush Kumar
Mahela, first of all, I'm a big fan of your elegant batting, and I think right now you're one of the batsmen most pleasing to the eye, as well as brilliant in the record books. You have been scoring a LOT of runs lately, at home as well as abroad. This is after an initial period of "underperforming". My question to you is, what are you doing different these days? My other question is, what are you thinking when you go out into the middle?

Thanks for the message. I am not doing anything very different to be honest. When I go out to bat I try to keep things simple. Sometimes when you are not scoring heavily you can go into your shell and sometimes I am guilty of not being positive enough and playing a half-hearted stroke. That happened in the T20 final for example when I tried to run down to third man when I should have cracked the ball through the covers.

From: Tejas Srinivasan
I am a young cricketer from India, and with your ability to pick gaps, take quick singles and build an innings, and also smack the ball if required. What does it take to do that?

Tejas - The first advice is practice. You need to practice in the nets. Give yourself imaginary fields in the nets so you can practice manoeuvring the ball into the gaps. You need to learn to be able to not just direct the ball but also to weight the ball. Sometimes you can just drop the ball with soft hands and pick-up an easy run. Once you have worked out ways of stealing singles it is much easier to build an innings. When you start you can set yourself targets like getting to 10 and then 20 and then 30 etc. You also need to have gameplan, which means understanding your strengths and weaknesses. If you are a good cover driver for example, you can wait patiently for opportunities to play that stroke while avoiding strokes that you play less well and will therefore be riskier.

From: Sanjay
I always wondered why did you had to quit from captaincy, you were doing wonderfully well, Sri Lanka always backed you up! I read that once you feel that you don't have the hunger to captain the team you shouldn't be captaining, I agree 100% with your comment, but what made you lose that hunger in keep Going!

I quite because I felt the time was right for a change and that it was a good time for Sanga to takeover. I did not lose the hunger but I was getting a little tired after three years of leadership. It is a tough job, especially in the subcontinent, and I think three years is probably the ideal length of time.

From: Sudhir Varma
Do you think IPL will help all the international players to play the game in better spirit or it will raise ego's between the players when they play for national duties.

Hi Sudhir - I think we've already seen that the IPL and such tournaments help bring the players closer together by helping friendships develop. For the spirit of the game it is a very positive sign.

From: G. Heramba Kumar
Sri Lanka has good young bowlers but why haven't they selected young batsman like Udwatte, Tharanga and Kapugedra?

These guys have had chances and they'll get more chances. The competition for places is very tough, which is good, so when you get a chance you need to make an impact and be consistent, like Angelo Mathews for example.

From: Ananth
I'm a batter that has more strokeplay than power. I want to hit my first 6. What did you do to build your power? In which areas on your body did you work on to build your power?

You can work out in the gym, increasing your upper body strength. But remember that power is often something that comes naturally. Some players have it; some players don't. It sounds to me like you should be focusing on timing the ball rather than hitting it hard.

From: Rathin P Rawal
Mahela you have played for Punjab in the IPL with Yuvi as the captain. If Dhoni were to be injured (hopefully not for India's sake), would you put Yuvi as the captain or Sehwag?

That's a difficult question because I have not played under Sehwag. Yuvi leads from the front and likes to be positive and instinctive.

From: Yasiru
Hi Mahela aiya, I am 23 years old. I like cricket very much, and I think I have a natural batting ability, but I haven't played in any cricket club yet I tried hard but they didn't give me a chance. And I can bowl off spin as well. Will you be able to help me aiya.

Why don't you try another club - you need to practice hard and be determined. Somewhere you will get a chance and then you need to perform. Good luck.

From: Harsha Jayawardena
Hi Mahela, What are your future plans?

Right now I am hoping to play for another 3-4 years of international cricket, fitness and form permitting. After that we'll have to see…I'll probably focus on my charity projects and enjoy spending time with my family.

From: Suhara
Dear Mahela, thank you for your invaluable contribution to Sri Lankan cricket as captain. You were without doubt one of Sri Lanka's finest captains and I support your decision to give up the captaincy in order to give your successor time to settle in before major tournaments. However one cannot help wonder whether your decision was made out of your own free-will or was affected by the pressure provided by the board? I wish you great luck for the the future with many more centuries to come.

In Sri Lanka we are used to such rumours and conspiracy theories. But there was no pressure on me to give-up the captaincy from the cricket board or selectors - in fact, they were surprised. But I felt the timing was right and I made the decision. I think that decision has been vindicated too by Sanga's very successful start.

From: M.D. Ferdaus
Do you really think your team is on the right track to win next World Cup?

Yes, certain areas of the team are falling into place. I think we have a great squad of talented players and good gameplans. But the middle remains a concern and we are hoping that one or two of the guys can perform consistently and cement their places.

From: Nipun
Which aspect is more important to succeed:-natural talent or pure determination?

At the highest level you obviously need natural talent. You can't make a star without talent. But at the same time talent is no guarantee for success. Look at a guy like Murali and you'll see a guy that is not only hugely talented but also the guy that practices the hardest. For talent to translate into success you need to have the determination and the willingness to work really hard.

From: Praveen Muthuthanthri
Hi Mahela, Please DON'T PLAY the REVERSE SWEEP AGAIN. You are too good a player to play that shot and the percentage you get out playing that shot is way too high. Even when you middle it, it looks so unnatural.

I disagree. The reverse sweep is a very useful stroke sometimes because it helps you make changes to the field, helping you pick up singles with more orthodox strokes. Sometimes you have to take risks to success when batting and the key is managing those risks cleverly.

From: Savantha Thenuwara
Angelo Mathews is doing really well... but so did many other players before who are dropped out now, and long gone. Do you think that he will be one of them? Or does he have the potential needed to climb up the ladder and get to the top?

Angelo is a very impressive player. He has talent, but he is also prepared to work hard and he is mentally disciplined, which is very important. I think he'll be a huge player for Sri Lanka and has a very bright future.

From: Arun Kumar
Hi Mahela, what do you think is the reason behind most Sri Lankan batsmen being unable to go all the way and score a 100 against Pakistan?

It is difficult to pinpoint a reason. The pitches were quite bowler friendly, Pakistan bowled well at stages and we were guilty of a few lapses of concentration. Hopefully we'll put together bigger scores in this series against New Zealand.

From: Dimi
What are the unique qualities you see in Sanga as Sri Lanaka's current captain? And do you think that it will make a huge impact on Sri Lanka's reputation in the future?

Sanga is a very intelligent guy and strategically he'll be very strong. He is also an excellent communicator which will help with the players and with his relationships with the administration and selectors. Finally, he is mentally strong and prepared to make tough choices. That is essential to being a good captain in Sri Lanka.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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