February 19, 2011

Excited to play World Cup at home

Mahela Jayawardene looks forward to playing his fourth World Cup

We have been waiting eagerly for this Word Cup to start. It's so exciting to play at home. In Sri Lanka, unlike India or other places, the fans are, yes, fanatic but they also understand the game as well. They know that cricket is cricket; you get good things and bad things. They love us and want us to do well; they will be optimistic, will back us to the hilt, but there is no added pressure on the team.

When you play a World Cup, there is always going to be pressure. It's part and parcel of the whole concept. Sometimes, you can put too much pressure on yourself. Like I did in 2003. I was desperate to do well and ended up with 20-odd runs. As a team, we did well but individually it went pretty bad. That's how it can go sometimes. It was my worst World Cup moment as far as my individual performance goes. It's something I have spoken about to the younger players in the team over the last year or so. We seniors have tried to keep it simple for them: just go out and enjoy yourselves. The focus has been to go out and express. This is a game; you should enjoy playing it. If it comes off its brilliant; if it doesn't then that's the way this game goes. That has been the message to our younger players. We have seen guys like Angelo Mathews do really well in Australia where it was really tough; they came out of it really well.

When you do well in a big game it can do wonders to your confidence. I can vouch for it myself as the semi-final hundred against New Zealand in the 2007 World Cup was a huge turning point for me. That hundred gave me confidence that I can do it at this big stage. Ever since that moment I have probably lifted my game quite a bit and turned into a big-match player. That was my best World Cup moment. I hope that some of the youngsters will script their own individual memorable moments in this World Cup.

The spirit in the camp is upbeat and the preparation has been good. We had West Indies coming over for ODIs. Unfortunately, the first game was rained off after the first half but we played a couple of good games after that with our World Cup squad which was important. Everything went well and the team is synching nicely. We tested a few players in the warm-up game and had a good run chase against West Indies. All in all, everything looks good.

Some people have asked me whether I will open the batting in this tournament. It all depends on our tactical thinking. In the last six months, even in Australia, Upul Tharanga and Dilshan have batted really well and I don't see why we need to change that combination. Opening was a really good challenge for me especially at this stage in my career and it's something I really enjoyed. Hopefully, when the opportunity presents itself, I can continue doing well in that position.

As a team, getting to the quarter-finals will be our first small target. We need to concentrate on the initial group games and try and set a good momentum. Just focus on one game at a time and enjoy the whole experience.

Will this be my last World Cup? Individually, I will decide on my future after this tournament. I will see how my body feels and assess how much international cricket I have left in me. I definitely don't want to drag myself through international cricket. I want to play as long as I am enjoying and contributing to the team and have the hunger.

Mahela Jayawardene is former captain of Sri Lanka

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  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2011, 13:21 GMT

    so i am not agree with Kugan Ken bcoz..we seen lots of time..there are no more enough chances for Kapugedara and Chamara silva..bcoz we had wasting our time with using Jayasuriya and oldies..otherwise this is the chance for Sangakkara and mahela would play down in the order and giving more opportunities forthem..we saw Virat kholi batting at no 4 way head than Yuvraj, Dhoni..thats what sri Lanka need to do..give chance to them....... Chandimal is a good batsman..i agree with that..

  • Rajinda on February 20, 2011, 10:33 GMT

    Mahela's hunger to play & enjoy the game will depend on few things. First he is not the type to hang around listening to SL officials/politicians, critics (specially arm chair pundits on chat rooms). He's seen enough former greats of SL cricket, been pushed around by them or some hang around greedily too long. He's very intelligent & knew the right time to leave the Captaincy when lot of people were doubting his ability. He doesn't have to prove anything anyone. He's done it consistently & holds many records in the books (his name is repeated 3 times in TEST batting partnership records). Contrary to his critics there's still no one in SL to take his place. But if he decides to stay, he's also smart to re-invent him self, simply because he's that talented, & have every shot in the book. Just look at his recent 20/20 & ODI batting as an opener. He's also still one of the best strategists, cricketing minds in the game today. I wish him the very best & SL LIONS to bring home the cup!

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2011, 10:07 GMT

    Mr.A.Afker perhaps you may not know that beloved Chandimal only managed 40 odd runs in 6 matches (including few ducks as I remeber) while 2 Chamaras scored more than 200 and placed themselves among the top 5-6 players in the domestic One Day tournament concluded just before the team selection. So I think Aravinda didn't want to risk talented Chandimal's future by putting him in the squad at the wrong time. Think I'm clear enough.

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    Well said Mahela, but I reckon @33 for you to consider (re-think) your future in cricket is bit far fetched....again as you said and I quote, "I want to play as long as I am enjoying and contributing to the team and have the hunger".

    I'm sure the hunger & the contribution factors will not desert you for some time to come for the sake of Sri lanka cricket in general. Cheers & all the best for this world cup.....!!!

  • Guruprasad on February 20, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    Both Mahela and Sangakkara seem to take delight in the fact that Indian cricketers are under more pressure from fans than SL cricketers. The fact is, such huge pressure also makes the cricketers extra tough. Today, among the new generation cricketers of Sri Lanka, only Angelo Mathews is mentally tough. In the meantime, India has produced the likes of Virat Kohli, Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan and Praveen Kumar, who have excelled. So, pressure can work both ways. In any case, all the best to SL and may the best team win the CWC 2011.

  • Ahamed on February 20, 2011, 3:55 GMT

    @Kugan Ken. You are absolutely correct.I do not know Why sanga and selectors giving that much priority to Chamara Silva and Kapugedara.They are performing once in a way.Hardly earn any MOM in ODI.I think Angelo and Thisara shown their worthyness but not both Chamaras. Aravinda made big mistake not selecting Dinesh Chandimal.He is better player than not only with both Chamara's but also Samaraweera and Angelow. But I do not know what happen to our selectors and captain.

  • gohar on February 19, 2011, 23:53 GMT

    i have never seen jam pack stadiums in SL, I hope people will come to see the match, most of the times stadiums r empty

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2011, 23:30 GMT

    Mahela is very very Importen Man in srilankan squid... if he fire all will be gone in srilankan way.. trust me sanga ,mahela dilashan all in 30s most probably all this 3 will be stop play cricket in same times.. if happens srilankan team wll be in trouble for some years like Australia . westindes.

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2011, 22:56 GMT

    yup...best thing about our fans..fanatic cricket lovers..but never goes to like bringing down players houses when they perform badly.. and whats this i hear that they are not going to allow musical instruments in to the Stadiums...no papare this time??

  • Rahul on February 19, 2011, 21:20 GMT

    I'm not sure what that snide generalization - "In Sri Lanka, unlike India or other places, the fans are, yes, fanatic but they also understand the game as well." - was all about. There are many Indian fans who understand the game as well, and probably better than anyone else in the subcontinent. Considering India is the oldest Test nation (and the first to win the world cup) from the subcontinent, I would watch your words carefully. As far as this world cup goes, I wish the SL cricket team the best of luck!

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