Sri Lanka in India 2009-10

Jayasuriya's future under scrutiny

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

October 29, 2009

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A dejected Sanath Jayasuriya heads back to the pavilion, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st match, Compaq Cup, Colombo, September 8, 2009
Sanath Jayasuriya's recent batting form has the Sri Lankan selectors concerned © AFP
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Sanath Jayasuriya's cricketing future has been put in the balance with Sri Lanka's selectors saying today that his days as an opener are effectively over and that following the upcoming tour of India he will be picked on performance alone. Jayasuriya, 40, has been picked in the one-day squad as an allrounder who can bat down the order and bowl left-arm spin.

"What we expect from Sanath is that he should win one in three games for Sri Lanka, which he was doing in the past," Ashantha de Mel, Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors, said in Colombo. "But now that has reduced and we are a little concerned about it. In the Champions Trophy in South Africa his performance was below par .That's the reason why we have gone in with the option of playing him as an allrounder."

Jayasuriya scored freely during the World Twenty20 in England this summer, where Sri Lanka finished runners-up, and ended as their joint second-highest run-getter with 177 at 25.28. However, he underperformed in the limited-overs fixtures against New Zealand and India at home and in the Champions Trophy.

Sri Lanka's selectors have Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan in mind as the opening pair for the future and Jayasuriya's selection will depend on the requirements of the team depending on where they will play. "We have spoken to Sanath on the role he has to play," de Mel said. "He has the option to play as an allrounder. We have considered him for this tour only, after that his selection will depend on his performance. He has to perform to hold his place in the team for the World Cup."

de Mel said the selectors did not have a settled position for Jayasuriya, who was impressive as an allrounder during Sri Lanka's victorious World Cup campaign in 1996, and that his flexibility worked in his favour. "Especially in the batting power play having a spinning allrounder like Sanath is useful in the subcontinent because he can hit the ball. He might bat in the middle or in the top order depending on the situation," he said. "Also, the World Cup will be held in the subcontinent where his left-arm spin can become useful. He can perform that role because in South Africa in the game against New Zealand when they scored 300 runs he was the one who bowled ten overs for three wickets and 30 runs. He has done well in the subcontinent especially with his bowling."

Jayasuriya is the second batsman after India's Sachin Tendulkar to pass 13,000 runs in ODIs and also holds the record for being the oldest batsman to score a one-day century, at 39 years and 212 days against India in Colombo. Of the 13,377 runs he has scored in 441 ODIs, 2841 have come in 86 ODIs against India including seven hundreds at a strike-rate of 97.

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara felt the main factor in Sri Lanka's poor ODI performances over the past two years has been an inconsistent batting line up. "The biggest let-down we had is our batting. We suffered because we had lots of batting position changes up and down the order," he said. "For the batting to improve you must give the players the confidence. They must know what role they are supposed to play. Role identification has been a big problem. Except for the openers no one knew what their role was in the side.

"We have never clicked in all departments those are things the team ignored for a while. The players have now started to realise that they take a lot of pride not just representing the country but to be up to the task that is required of them by the team."

Fielding was one of the key areas where Sri Lanka suffered during the Champions Trophy and to address the poor standards and improve them Sri Lanka Cricket acquired the services of Gavin Fingleson, a former Olympic baseball player.

"He didn't come and change but showed us how do things right. He showed us little points that will make us better and quick fielders, at the same time we also realized to be quicker on the field you've got to be fitter as a side," Sangakkara said. "We started doing a lot of work on fitness running. Gavin showed us a lot of drills and how you can gain that extra second advantage when going for a catch or trying to stop the ball. At the same time the most important point was to make sure at practice you do everything as perfectly, those are the habits we have to build on."

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Posted by sachitha.wij on (November 23, 2009, 14:52 GMT)

first of all to venkat_super_11 maybe u are right in ur point to comparing sanath and sachin.. I'm a big fan of sachin and i do believe he is the greater batsman but there is no doubt the greater match winner of the two is sanath purely cos the way he changes the game.. secondly i believe maybe it would actually work out since sri lanka does not have a lower order hitter and our team has consistently missed out on a lot of runs to be gained during the final stages of the game.. with dilshan in as opener and sanath in the middle order it would be possible to accelerate the scoring in the beginning and the final stages of the innings as well :)

Posted by ethicalcricketer on (November 14, 2009, 7:53 GMT)

wow! what a grat squad! i guess we have gone back to arjuna ranatunga era. thanks muttiahs influence he is there. we wont see anymore muttiahs in future... already mahroofs have been chopped off. othervise mohammeds became ranjives then able to play. Jayasuriya you are the greatest captain fo sri lanka. you had no problems with mahroofs & muralis.. what a shame now we will see only ranatungas & atapattus.. in 1993-1998 there were lots of mohammeds and muralis were denied place in the squad and dilsan had do change his name from mahroof to ranatunga.. this is really bad. after 30 year some people have learnt nothing.

Posted by Venkat_Super_11 on (November 13, 2009, 10:23 GMT)

First of all, people must understand that comparing Sanath with Sachin is like comparing apples with oranges. Sanath is just a hard-hitter of the ball and he can really really hit the ball very hard. However Sachin's batting is something that one not only enjoys but also learns from it. His cricket shots, even if he scores a six over the point or third man is a perfect reflection of cricket books and style. Just because Davidson in Canada scored the fastest century in one of the world cups doesn't mean that he is the best. This is what Srilankans must understand before even comparing Sanath with Sachin. No doubt, Sanath's batting is an enjoyment for on-lookers but Sachins' batting is an enjoyment for the spectators worldwide.

Posted by muththa85 on (November 11, 2009, 19:01 GMT)

The main idea of having sanath as an all rounder is to make his responsibilities spread out and win matches for sri lanka either with his batting or bowling, not only with his batting as in the past as a genuine batter. Sanath should be braught iin for bowling through the powerplays and make sure that he keeps a tight line and length. He is a good performer with the ball and Kumar needs to make sure that Sanath bowls his full quota of overs. We have not seen sana bowling that much in the recent past and the opposition batsmen are going to be faced with a tough ask if sana keeps bowling 10 overs every match. This way we can use sana, murali and dilshan for spinners and then mathews, and two pacies for the pace departmnent. Just having sana in our team itself is a big confidence booster, with all his experience and exuberance he brings to the team. Only thing sana is lacking is a bit of confidence and a bit of luck. Watch out guys, Sana is back with vengence and he will perform no doubt

Posted by jagath98 on (November 11, 2009, 17:49 GMT)

as predicted, last few months team has been depending on sana a lot because others were not performing this added extra presure on him.i think his role had changed over the years where he has started. arjunas, aravindas and mahanamas were rock solid which made sana and kalu invisible and less presure was on them. like in india now as they have a god bating lineup eases the presure on the top. and i think team management didnot used sana well in south africa. where sana should have come down the oder when the pitch has worn out.any way you can't keep sana out of the picture too long. he will bounce back agressively. i think the problem is who has the talent to chalenge sana.any youngster replaced will be under more presure. we have seen that.i think sana should play in the depth as a finisher. and ball a bit.

Posted by Cannuck on (November 10, 2009, 3:20 GMT)

To ICON_SANATH, you don't have to be an "Einstien" on Cricket to, recognize misguided fans who cannot make a difference between, being obsessed, stuck in past glory & being a true fan. I am actually a huge fan of Sana, & I want him to do well. So I accept this situation he is in, & want him to take up the challenge, play well & help SL win, just as a few true fans like lankanpride has mentioned here. I am glad you are an Indian, & we know there are so many fans of him there. But it's also a fact that you guys worship the ground your heros walk on, & burn their effigies & houses when they fail. That's being "fanatics" where the word "fan" derive from. BTW, Gretzky, Jordan & Co. were not replaced by clones, but other good players who got the opportunity because these legends allowed them to step in. As per your idea "play till the last breath", world would've never known Tendulkars, as Gavaskar would be holding that spot! Nor would we've enjoyed Laras, as Richards would still be playing!

Posted by Agnar on (November 9, 2009, 16:26 GMT)

Sanath is a great player. He has shown others what one can do with natural ability and determination. Having said that I hope there will be better players than him coming out to SL team in the future. (Some swear that there can not be any better. He is only human.) One should not forget that Sanath is only a member of SL team. Team does not exist for him. He serves the team. He will retire in 2011, if not sooner. But the team will continue to play. Team has to make plans to continue to be competitive. One of them is filling Sanath's position when he retires. Also the team has to try to play the best 11 players in every match. So the question is this: Is having Sanath opening batting the best thing for the team? Not how long Sanath can occupy the opening position. I think time is up. One could even argue that it had been for a while. There is a good chance that he will make a significant contribution, if not win matches, as an all rounder. Let's cheer him up for his new job.

Posted by pcs1988 on (November 9, 2009, 10:40 GMT)

I agree for that changing of Sana.But selectors have to made a suitable and fixed position in the middle order for sanath.I am not saying sanath should play always at that position.It can be changed from how match is going.When man become old his performance is normally decrasing.it is world Nature.But my Idea is Sana can play still 2011 world cup. In past days in ODI's sri lankan middle order felt down lot of times.Mostly low middle order felt down.That means no 5,6,7 positions.I dont say No 4,Mahela played well inpast ODI's.But he is a talented & wanted player for SL in ODI's.Because of that srilanka lost matches & went down to 7 th position in ODI ranking. But look at last ODI's in Champions throphy & Compaq cup.Our lower middle order was good in those matches better than earlier.Because of Kandamby,Mathews,Samaraweera. My idea is kandamby,mathews should in team.Then sana should replace to samaraweera.Then kandamby & sana can play 5 & 6 position.

Posted by Yacker on (November 9, 2009, 8:45 GMT)

sanath must not leave without another world cup title to his name he should be picked for this tour and the world cup and after that the selectors may decide his future

Posted by andrew32 on (November 9, 2009, 8:14 GMT)

i think there is a huge problem in the mentality of Asian cricket administrators...they really do not have the idea ,how to treat the legends...the history has been the evidence in the case of Sourav ganguly....sanath has produced so many glorious ocassions for the lankan fans since his debut in 1990....jayasurya and all other cricket greats should be given respect at any cost ...no doubt that sanath has been in poor form in last 10 or so matches but srilankan selectors need not to forget that recently in compaq cup ,with his mind blowing 98,srilanka crushed india in the league match...so i think he should be given little bit more time to regain his powers and i am sure he will prove his critiocs wrong in upcoming series against india

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