World T20 2016 March 19, 2016

Jayawardene praise for 'special' England batting performance

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Jayawardene: It was something special

Mahela Jayawardene has praised the character shown by England's young batsmen after they pulled off the second-highest successful run chase in T20 internationals. Led by Joe Root's 83 from 44 balls, England achieved a target of 230 to beat South Africa with two balls to spare in Mumbai and Jayawardene, who has been working with the team as a batting consultant, called it a "special" performance.

Jayawardene, who was part of the Sri Lanka side that won the previous World T20 in 2014, has now concluded his part-time role with England and joined ESPNcricinfo's Match Day analysis line-up, and he played down his part in their success.

"To be honest, I haven't done much," he said. "When you work with a talented group of players, and when they do something like that, everyone thinks you had a huge role to play… but I've really enjoyed working with the England boys, they're a young team with not much experience in international T20s but they want to play a brand of cricket which they have been playing for 12 months and they are still finding their way.

"It was a great win last night, I really enjoyed it. In the dressing room it was nervous moments at points and at the halfway mark obviously everyone was disappointed. But they showed a lot of character to regroup and go out and the way they played was something special."

A former Sri Lanka captain, Jayawardene retired from international cricket for good after last year's World Cup and first worked with England on their tour of the UAE before returning for the World T20. His relationship with the coach, Trevor Bayliss, goes back to their time together with Sri Lanka and Jayawardene credited the Australian with helping to change England's approach.

While chasing down 230 requires a capacity for powerful ball-striking, Jayawardene identified the "smartness" of Root and the captain, Eoin Morgan, as a key factor, as well as a degree of freedom and flexibility that has allowed the rest of the top six - openers Jason Roy and Alex Hales, as well as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler - to flourish.

"This is something that they have developed since Trevor Bayliss has taken over, they have put a lot of emphasis on white-ball cricket, not just T20 but one-day cricket as well," Jayawardene said. "They've managed to get a group of young cricketers, looking towards the next 50-over World Cup as well. It's not just power hitting, the way Joe batted in that middle period and the way Buttler controlled a tough situation when they lost Morgan. They're still finding ways of doing things, they definitely have the power if they need to use it but [they are] trying to be much more structured going about things.

"They have given licence to Jason because that's the way he bats, Alex Hales still hasn't really found his rhythm but he showed something yesterday. They can use Stokes anywhere because the flexibility is there, he plays pace and spin well. What they have got is the smartness of Joe Root and Eoin Morgan, who's got the experience of playing in the subcontinent, in that middle. Jos Buttler has been in great form as well, so they've got six batsmen who can change a game and they do bat deep as well, so they've got the freedom to go out and express themselves."

While acknowledging there would be challenges ahead if England were to progress, Jayawardene was impressed by the players' willingness to improve. Chief among them is Root, described by Morgan as "the most complete batsmen we've ever had". Despite having played just 14 T20I innings - and 39 in the shortest format overall - he has become central to their World T20 plans and Jayawardene was impressed by his attitude to batting, calling him a "very skillful cricketer and a very bright cricketer as well".

"He wants to learn new things and to evolve as a cricketer," Jayawardene said. "What you have to understand is that Joe hasn't played that much T20 cricket, he hasn't had that much experience of playing in the subcontinent, he's still finding his way.

"So for him to go out in a tough situation - probably the situation dictated the way he had to play, started slowly but to keep up with the run rate he had to be innovative. But he just kept his cool, made sure the guys around him do a bit of work as well, so when you look at the bigger concept, he's the guy that England would want to do that kind of role for them in this tournament."

Jayawardene added: "[He is a] good all-round cricketer, there are about four-five young good players in this tournament that everyone is going to look out for and he is one of them."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jazz on March 20, 2016, 8:49 GMT

    No doubt the batting talent is there on their day to set and base big totals. Very concerned with the bowling. I would have Plunkett in for Jordan as a start and both Willey & Broad could offer a lot too. Good luck England!

  • Xiong on March 20, 2016, 7:32 GMT

    Settle down guys. As Mahela said himself, he didn't really have much to do with this win. He was brought in to give advice for sub continental pitches. This pitch was not sub continental beyond its' geographical location. 459 runs were scored in less than 40 overs. Would've been interesting to see how England went if they'd played in Dharmasala or Nagpur with Mahela there, but fortunately they have the luxury of avoiding those venues.

  • barry on March 20, 2016, 7:26 GMT

    Plunket for Topley who is a liability. Ideally drop Jordon as well but not sure who you could replace him with.

  • raj on March 20, 2016, 7:11 GMT

    I always consider Mahela was ahead of sanga when captaincy was concerned though sanga was the better batsmen of the two.

  • Michael Flynn on March 20, 2016, 5:53 GMT

    Unfortunately England's bowling is going to let them down big time in this tournament. They lack the essential T20 experience and haven't taken part in overseas T20 tournaments. Until English players start playing more of these matches they won't seriously challenge for the trophy.

  •   Nuwan Saranga on March 20, 2016, 4:05 GMT

    Very good job mahela...... SL cricket board please keep in mind that knowledge of jayawardane very important us....

  • exhil on March 19, 2016, 23:35 GMT

    No wonder Mahela has helped the England team, he was a captain with a very good brain.

  • Peter on March 19, 2016, 23:07 GMT

    I'm sure SLC do appreciate Mahela - but wouldn't it be difficult to coach a team that you've recently captained and/or been such a big part of? So it is probably good for everyone that he coaches elsewhere - and gains coaching experience - before going back to SLC? He was a wonderful beautiful player and we all miss watching him bat..... the question for SLC is how do they replace him, as well as Sanga (and the much under-rated and almost forgotten Thilan Samaraweera).... it is like losing the 3Ws in one fell swoop....

  • Musty on March 19, 2016, 22:33 GMT

    He seems like a such nice guy, i have not seen many coaches say this about their players

  • Vikram on March 19, 2016, 21:21 GMT

    That match had shades of how the Kochi Tuskers chased down Mumbai Indians' stiff total with McCullum and Jeyawardane leading the charge!

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