Jayawardene on recovering from the Lahore attack April 24, 2009

'I told myself it's just another day'


The Lahore attack still weighs heavy on Mahela Jayawardene's mind, to the extent that he finds it difficult even now to board the team bus while on duty for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. He considers this part of his recovery process, though even with counseling it hasn't been an easy experience.

"I told myself it's just another day and I have to move on," Jayawardene said about the first time he got on to a team bus after the Lahore attack last month. "It was difficult. But I was with many other people in the bus who had no idea what was going on [in my mind], which I think actually helped me quite a bit."

He was the lone Sri Lankan on the Punjab team bus till Kumar Sangakkara landed up a few days later. "It was awkward at first , knowing what happened to us last time when we got to the team bus but it was something we'd spoken about before; it's part of the recovery process of forgetting what happened and moving on with life."

However, Jayawardene believes it will be more difficult getting on to the Sri Lankan team bus. "I think when we, as the Sri Lankan squad, get into the team bus it could be probably a bigger thing. Everyone there would have gone through the [Lahore] episode."

Eight people, including six policemen, were killed when terrorists attacked the convoy carring players and officials to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, where Sri Lanka were playing a Test against Pakistan. Five Sri Lankan players, including Jayawardene and Sangakkara, and a member of the coaching staff were injured by shrapnel. The Test and series were cancelled as the Sri Lankans flew home the same day.

Jayawardene, currently in Durban, has been to counseling sessions in Sri Lanka as part of the recovery act but he knows it's not something that will offer immediate relief. "I have been told that the incident might come back to me again and again. The sessions will be useful in the long run. I am sure we won't ever forget the incident but the focus is not to get stuck in that situation and to try and move on."

Playing cricket, especially in an international competition like the IPL, has also helped in the recovery process. "Your mind is busy working on tactics and how to face the next game. So it keeps you occupied." Before coming to South Africa Jayawardene had a few nets sessions played some domestic cricket. "It was nice to get out to the park and play with your friends. All that made a huge difference."

As Jayawardene gets closer to normality, though, he realizes his perspective on life too has changed. "You realise there are more things to life that cricket. I just want to concentrate and enjoy the simple little things and make the most of every moment. I know that in this world nothing is sure right now; anything can happen if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's not a negative thing; lots of people go through this in day-to-day life, people in the armed forces and even normal people. You appreciate their job even more now and try to contribute in some way."

Jayawardene is in South Africa with his wife, who has now recovered from the trauma. "She was very upset initially but she got slowly recovered. She didn't have to go to counseling [unlike Thilan Samaraweera's wife]. What helped was that we both took some time off and went away for ten days just to have some quality time together; that made a huge difference. After that she was fine."

Is he following the investigation back in Lahore? "That's not in our control. It's the authorities' job to find out who did it why they did it and make sure it doesn't happen again. We cricketers don't want to be involved in this politics. We can point fingers about security, et cetera, but when something like that happens there's nothing we can do about it. Let's just hope that it doesn't happen again."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sharad on April 25, 2009, 10:01 GMT

    What's the point of this article?

  • Zaheer on April 25, 2009, 6:36 GMT

    "ICC has acted like a trigger happy policeman in scrapping Pakistani plan of holding world cup matches without giving their security plan any thought. They have no objection no having it in India (8 insurgencies), Sri Lanka (civil war at its bloodiest part) and Bangladesh (had to cancel last series for the lack of security). No sports event was halted in Munich (after kidnapping of Israeli sportmen) or from London after 7/7 or for that matter from NY after 911. Western media in general and Indian contigent in particular have been biased against Pakistan (to say it mildly). "

  • Ullas on April 25, 2009, 5:18 GMT


    The media is not neglecting the shift of IPL...in fact, that created one of the biggest controversies in recent times in India. Your opinion is ill-informed. In India, that issue is still being discussed with comments flying from none other than the Home Minister himself. So really, I don't understand what you're trying to imply.

    I agree that the journo's question about the probe was a little cheeky but that's how the media operates everywhere across the world. They always want a scoop! Apart from that one question, the rest of the article is a compelling read. We know cricketers as superstars but when faced with a tragedy of this magnitude, they react like ordinary people do.

    And "unwanted hype"? Cricketers were shot at, about six policemen died...much as we all want to move on, it's important that we don't learn to live with terrorism and start shrugging it off. I don't understand why some people get defensive every time the topic comes up for discussion.

  • PRIYANTHA on April 25, 2009, 4:53 GMT

    The incident Sri Lankan players went through cannot be compared with any other incident happened in the past. They were directly targeted and miraculosly escaped of serious injury or death. Pakistan government was totally responsible for lack of security. Even with tight security arrangements the incident would have happened but in tht case palyers and officials would not have suffered any injury and cuplrits would have been apprehended or killed. It is no really Mahela but Thilan Samaraweera media has to focus on. Now he has to go through a painful rehabilitation process to get back playing cricket. It is pity that this happened to him when he was reaching a peak in his test career.

  • Ishan on April 25, 2009, 4:32 GMT

    i cant believe someone saying this incident is getting too much hype! how can something like this be over hyped? imagine if we were in the players situation? they narrowly escaped death! they deserve all the attention they get! so what ever the media is doing to try to see what their condition now is good for them! it will remind everyone how unsafe we are in this world no matter who we are!

  • k on April 25, 2009, 4:20 GMT

    ahmer, what is it you find so objectionable about sri lankan players talking about the lahore attacks? i'm guessing you would rather forget about it and sweep the issue under the carpet. and i didn't realise any pakistani players were shot at and some even hit by the pakistani nationals that were responsibile for the mumbai attack. shame on the indian and western media for ignoring the stories of akmal and tanvir...until pakistanis stop playing victim and actually address the issues nobody (cricketer,tourist or businessman) will want to go to your country. so stop looking for reasons to be offended by media reports and perhaps be offended that such a high percentage of international terrorists have connections to your homeland.

  • fanof on April 25, 2009, 3:35 GMT

    I think there seem to be a misunderstanding about the intent of the posting. Sriram Veera, i should confess, who i admire his writings is helping the cricketers(public professionals) to mourn publicly. If the cricketer is not interested in talking about the subject, they wouldn't be engaging with such detailed dialog. There is no pakistani bashing going on and somehow it is getting misconstrued as such.

    Kudos to sriram veera for helping cricketers heal and hopefully this situation never happens again.

  • Shahid on April 25, 2009, 3:24 GMT

    Asking the same thing over and over again does not make it any better. The players are going through counseling so that they could forget the terrible incident and move on with their lives. The whole world already knows what happened out there and by seeing these palyers back in the cricket fields will show how these players are doing.

    The bitter truth is that there were also eight people killed in that terror attack and many more injured. If you really want to know the magnitude of that attack go interview the poor families whose sons died that day and those who can't even afford the couseling services. If you really wan to know the magnitude go and see the tears in the eyes of innocent kids whose dads died that same day and ask these families if they are able to sleep at night. You have no clue what magnitude means Mr peter_della_penna. What's the point of interviewing the players over and over again, is it because the story sells better and it creates more drama??

  • R on April 25, 2009, 3:22 GMT

    A well written article that provided a good perspective about the struggles that the players who were traumatised by the incident have to go through. But it so typical of the sub-continent mentality to become defensive, and even worse, give it a conspiracy spin. These are the type of people that make it easier for the inept politicians and incompetent authorities to divert public attention with baseless allegations. The fact remains that to date, no significant progress has been made to bring the perpetuators to justice. This, in spite of international exposure to the incident. People...get your priorities right.

  • nihal on April 25, 2009, 3:07 GMT

    I'm really happy about the performances of Sri Lankan cricketers during the current IPL tournement. That means they are recovering well & making use this opportunity to get ready for the comming T20 world cup. But unfortunately , some mediamen who are running short of new ideas are trying to disturb the cricketers by recalling incidents like happened in Lahore. I too agree with the comments posted so far & have to say this is very poor mediamanship.

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