August 13, 2010

'We've got our World Cup squad more or less in place'

There were a lot of positives from the Test series; now the focus shifts to the tri-series, and a lot of emphasis will be on the big one, six months away

Having played the kind of Test we did at the P Sara Oval, I wonder why people want to change Test cricket. It's sort of like the way, not only with cricket, but in day-to-day life, people start talking about something and then forget it four or five days later. You have to know that people are going to talk about the feasibility of Test cricket and then also look forward to the next Test match.

Some Tests might not seem result-oriented, but people put hard work into those games as well. To score 600 runs is not easy, even on batting tracks. A lot of hard work and concentration is needed. Sometimes batsmen get it easy, sometimes it is tough. You have to appreciate everything, not just one aspect. Pure Test cricket lovers will enjoy whatever is on offer, and it is just some who don't have the patience to watch the long game who start talking about the need for Twenty20 and one-dayers. Real cricket fans enjoy Test cricket because they know how much hard work goes into it, even when there is no result.

That said, we are disappointed with the final result, a 1-1 drawn series. We played some really good cricket throughout the series, but in the last Test, perhaps the last two days or the last three or four sessions, we were outplayed and India came back in the series. We had our opportunities more than the Indians did, but we let them back in.

In the first innings we had batsmen getting starts and throwing their wickets away. We probably should have scored another 150. When India were batting we dropped a couple of chances at crucial times. Their last three added 86 runs, and that is where the momentum shifted. That dropped chance off Amit Mishra made a huge difference, otherwise we probably would have got a crucial lead. We didn't capitalise on those opportunities. The way we batted in the second innings, losing five or six wickets for 80, was not good enough. We knew it was going to be tough on that wicket, so we were positive, but we were also reckless at times.

Suraj Randiv's performance on those last two days was a huge positive. We knew he had potential, but with Muttiah Muralitharan leaving Test cricket, and for Suraj to come in, we knew it was not going to be easy. The expectations were high, but he has managed it really well. He bowled really well throughout the two Tests he played. He is a bowler who can create opportunities even when the pitch is not turning, with his bounce. When the wicket provides assistance, like we saw on the fifth day, he can be really effective. He will learn from here. It was a huge occasion for him, playing at the highest level, staking his claim to be the No.1 spinner in Sri Lanka.

Even though India probably didn't have their best bowling attack, they had their best batting line-up. We knew it would be tough, but we played some good cricket. The way we batted through the series, except for the last innings, was very good, very consistent. The bowlers were really good under tough conditions too.

Murali will definitely come into play as we get closer to the World Cup. We thought that he had had a long season and needed a break after the Test retirement

Now we get on the road to the World Cup. Starting with the tri-series, not just us but other teams too will be trying to get their final combinations right. They will try a few things here and there before they make their decisions for the World Cup.

This tri-series is an important tournament in itself, against two top teams. You don't want to look at the World Cup at the expense of winning matches. You always want to win. The winning habit, the momentum, is a good thing.

We have more or less sorted out the 17-18 players out of whom the squad of 15 for the World Cup will be picked. Openings are few and far between. Perhaps the second allrounder's spot, to go with Angelo Mathews, is open. One more spinning option, and maybe a fast-bowling spot, are the ones people will be fighting for.

Murali will definitely come into play as we get closer to the World Cup. We have two more series, against Australia and West Indies. Then we have our domestic one-day competition as well. Murali will come into that. It's just that we thought he had had a long season and needed a break after the Test retirement. We know exactly what Murali brings to the party, so we don't need to wonder about him.

Dambulla is a great venue; just that conditions are tough under the lights. But there are always challenges. We are going to play at two brand-new venues, Pallekelle and Hambantota in the World Cup. R Premadasa (Colombo) is being completely redone. The pitch might not change, but the atmosphere will be different. So there can be surprise elements even for us. It's all about these kinds of challenges, and we are looking forward to them.

Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is the country's leading Test run-scorer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Amit on August 16, 2010, 22:32 GMT

    They are at home, Won all the tosses where batting first gives you all the advantages, Oppoosition is without thier top 2 or 3 bowlers and he's happy with the resuts if a drawn series. Please give me what Jayawardanee has for breakfast. I want to be living in La-la land too!

  • mahendra on August 16, 2010, 21:31 GMT

    'We've got our World Cup squad more or less in place' .I suggest you stop bragging, take your time and do a better job .After todays' Thrashing' you might want to put a bit more thought & effort into it .

  • kapilesh on August 16, 2010, 12:02 GMT

    come on mahela grow up ,have some sportsman spirit .i think thats why you are never even rated in the places like aus and think that your team played better cricket than india in almost all the series except the final 3-4 sessions .i just want to know who took the lead in the second test match it was india .and india won third one so who played better cricket india or sl .dont talk drop catches there were many drop catches in the first match as well from indians.

  • Rakitha on August 16, 2010, 3:34 GMT


  • Sage on August 15, 2010, 18:51 GMT

    Atthipatti. I don't agree with your comments here. Mahela is a great player. i consider him as one of the top 3 players in the world cricket now. I feel that you don't check statistics. Well go on this page check yourself. I appreciate if you check the last test series in Australia. Mahela scored a Hundred. He can walk in to any ground in the world and score a hundred and he can take any bowling side apart. He does not have to prove anyone how good he is. Just listen to commentators when a match is going on. Any team is good in their own soil. India has not won a test series away. I mean with good test teams. But India is a very talented side. Otherwise they cannot be No 1

  • vijay on August 15, 2010, 18:26 GMT

    Can anybody please explain to me what LORD SANJEEWAKARU is trying his heart out to say especially in his last line?????????

  • Dummy4 on August 15, 2010, 16:53 GMT

    I fear that cricket is dying in srilanka because iam seeing crowd reducing for every game.

  • Abdul on August 15, 2010, 16:27 GMT

    everybody knows that teams like india and srilanka cant win the worldcup srilanka usually qualifies to semi final and finals and then they fail to win the finals wheras india only qualifies in groupstage and then failure and failure well ithink india dont have a team to win a worldcup because they dont have good bowling attack and they e too dependant on tendulker if tendulker all fail and thats what willl happen i think worldcup 2011 will be won by england they have better batting lineup than india i bet morgan is exactly like tendulker his class is seem he reads the game better than tendulker and they have a better bowling lineup than srilanka just like pakistan

  • Sage on August 15, 2010, 15:24 GMT

    Mahela please don't talk about the test series against India. We played so negative cricket since the second day of the 3rd test that's why we lost the game. Can you play under pressure? If your answer is yes, then prove it. I'm not angry with you guys it's just that we depend too much on you because you both are great cricketers. Sanga just threw his wicket away in both innings. Leadership is action, not a position, Leadership is defined by what we do, not the role we are in. I want Sanga and you to prove that you have taken your games to the next level. Kindly coach a player as a vice captain to take over once Sanga is gone. Comfort zones are good but be challenging. I'm very disappointed with the Sri Lankan coaching staff. What are your contribution guys? We have great players and what are we lacking? It's strange that we feel not knowing which team is playing on a given date. Sometimes good is not good where better is expected. I think Watmore and Moody did a lot for our cricket.

  • Sage on August 15, 2010, 15:22 GMT

    Mahela I do respect you as a world class player/captain. But I don't think we are ready for the world cup. We may have few senior players lined up but some of the players in the middle order are still questionable. Kapugedara has not scored a century and has played 78 ODI's so far. I respect his fielding. He is going to be a world class fielder and has the potential to be a great player too. Mathews still does not have the punch. We keep trying Kandamby and still no luck. I feel he is little over weight. The light at the end of the tunnel is Tilan Samaraweera. Please bring in Dinesh Chandimal? We have Welagedara and Prasad but how good are they? I doubt they are going to make an impact. What happened to Thilina Thushara, Isuru Udana? Mahroof is lack of fitness. If you take former fast bowlers like De Mell, Rathnayakes, and Vass, were wicket taking bowlers. We are lucky to have Malinga on our side. I believe Kulasekera and Dilhara Fernando are better bowlers than Welagedara and Prasad.

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