Sri Lanka in England 2011 May 25, 2011

'Mindset is the most important preparation'

Sri Lanka's middle-order superstar on the challenge awaiting him on his fourth Test tour of England
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I've been in England for just over a week, and tomorrow I begin my fourth Test series in the country. It's been a busy few days of acclimatisation since I and Kumar Sangakkara arrived from the IPL. We turned up in Derby on the eve of the game against the Lions, which was about as far removed from Kerala as anyone could imagine, and though I made just 1 and 26, the way we turned the game on its head was outstanding, and stands us in great stead for the Test series.

The Lions match was a tough game on a tough pitch, and we were behind for most of the game, then came back strongly on the third day, firstly by batting for four sessions, and then by bowling them out for 183 in the final afternoon. The only sadness is that Nuwan Pradeep, who did so much to change the game with his four wickets, is unlikely to take any further part in the tour.

Everyone's really sad for him, but that's what cricket is all about, especially for fast bowlers. He's been waiting for his opportunity for the last two years, he did all the hard work in the lower grades, and was finally called up to the national team for the first time, and for such a big tour. Unfortunately he landed awkwardly while fielding, and has damaged his knee ligaments. But when he gets better he'll still be in the squad, and there's a lot of good cricket coming ahead for us. He will be ready for that.

It's pretty non-stop for us at the moment, but that's just the way it is these days, and we can't really complain. I know that there has been a lot of talk about burn-out in the England squad after their tough winter at the Ashes and the World Cup, but I view such things slightly differently. You have 15-16 years as an international cricketer, and yes, you need rest and breaks occasionally, but when you are playing quality cricket you have to try to push yourself.

We've been playing non-stop for almost two years now without a proper break and it's going to continue to the end of this year as well. But we've grown up playing cricket like this. There's no winter and summer seasons for us in Sri Lanka, it's cricket all year round and when we're not at home we tour other countries as well. It's choc-a-bloc, so whenever we get an opportunity to spend three or four days at home we enjoy that, then it's back on the saddle again.

I actually think that helped me to get over the crushing disappointment of losing the World Cup final for the second tournament in succession. Man, that was gutting, especially after scoring an 88-ball hundred. But it wasn't just the final that was draining but the whole World Cup, since we were one of the hosts and one of the favourites to go all the way.

In many respects we achieved a lot of our goals and played some wonderful cricket along the way, but I definitely needed some time to get over it. But not too much time, as we were already packing our bags to go to India for the IPL. As they say, a change is as good as a rest, and to start playing a different brand of cricket, and to get my teeth into a new challenge as captain of my franchise, Kochi, really helped get my mind off Mumbai and refocus my energies.

Dilshan will keep it simple, and play the way he plays. He's easy going, he loves a challenge, he's free-flowing, and all of this will reflect on the way he runs the side.

And now we move onto a completely different challenge. A week might not seem like enough time to make the change from Twenty20 to Test cricket, but we are quite used to doing this for the last three or four years, and most of my preparation will be done mentally. The pitches here will be different from one place to the next, and conditions-wise anything can happen given the English weather. So it's all about mindsets, and although I didn't spend much time in the middle against the Lions I felt comfortable, and have had some good net sessions since.

The Cardiff track has a reputation for big runs - I know the Aussies enjoyed batting here two years ago - so I'm looking forward to getting in and getting a big one, and I'm confident I can do that, after making centuries at Lord's in the first Tests of my last two tours of England in 2006 and 2002. It looks like it'll bea good hard surface for the first day, and on the second and third days it might flatten out even more. If our batsmen can get through that initial period, they will get used to the pace and hopefully find it easier.

In recent years we've only ever faced England in the early part of their summer, as we've not been invited in the latter part, and that is something that is beyond our control. But all we can try to do is control situations. It's challenging but at the same time it's what Test cricket is all about. I love these kind of challenges. Some you win, some you lose, but getting up in the morning and knowing you have a big task ahead is a great feeling. I've enjoyed the last two tours here and we've had success as well, with a win at Trent Bridge to draw the series last time around. We believe we can go one better this time.

Thursday is going to be an especially big day for Tillakaratne Dilshan, when he leads the side out for his first Test as captain. He may be inexperienced in that particular role, but he's been a leader in our group for some time now. He's a street-smart guy, he's a fighter, and he has shown that all throughout his career, in the way he has fought his way back into the side after struggling in his early days.

Since he started opening the batting what he's achieved has been remarkable. I know that the young guys will look up to him, while the core of the team - guys like myself and Kumar - will be there to give him advice in different situations. But the key thing is to enjoy your cricket as a captain. Dilshan will keep it simple, and play the way he plays. He's easy going, he loves a challenge, he's free-flowing, and all of this will reflect on the way he runs the side. It will be a challenging time, but a good time for Sri Lanka.

Mahela Jayawardene is former captain of Sri Lanka

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 3rd_man on May 27, 2011, 10:21 GMT

    I doubt MJ ability against good wickets and good bowling attacks. sorry to say this, he looks elegant when he plays but I don't think he got that much of ability as every one think him to have. every time when he given a challenge he fails. may be mental thing. he don't have confidence on his shot making against pace bowlers. cover drives , off drives etc. if you cant play your shots bowlers will put more pressure and take your wicket. all good players like Sewag, Tendulkar, Dravid they will play their shots and get on top of the bowlers. MJ don't have any confidence on his off side play. leg side he can play but this tour is real test for him.

  • akelumw on May 27, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    MAHELA JAYAWARDENE ................. THE ARTIST OF THE BATSMEN IN WORLD CRICKET...........

  • C.Dila on May 27, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    wish u Happy Birthday Mahela

  • on May 26, 2011, 10:52 GMT

    i dnt think sl need real class bowling to get wickets in English conditions...there z resistance to da bowlers with cold climate and wind...therefore we dnt need wrld class bowlers to strike in English conditions....gud steady line and length bowling will do delver da goods.......

  • Pathiyal on May 26, 2011, 10:38 GMT

    Mahela is definitely going to enjoy his batting in the green pitches. in the absence of malinga, 'somebodies' will definitely step up and cause break throughs. i think we can expect huge scores from mahela and sanga for sure. i wish them all the very best.

  • nuttyaboutcricket on May 26, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    Would love to see Sri Lanka do well against England, but will be surprised if they do so without Murali and Malinga. Their best chance is to bat well and put up huge scores. All the best!!!

  • stormy16 on May 26, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    If there is a guy you want to watch for a living, Mahela would be amoungst the favorites. Just a class player with silky skills and never seems to play a shot in anger. People keep talking about his away record but its really an excuse to deter from the class he is. All you really need to do is check the other class acts and their records in SL (or away) and lets face it not many have equal records home and away. This could be his last tour to Eng and as the senior pro he must deliver and deliver big..

  • on May 26, 2011, 6:08 GMT

    yaa!..it still hurts maha..it still hurtz..especially thnking about ur incredible innings!..(i'm talkin abut the WC)..but all the very very best to this series to prove all the skeptics and naysayers wrong!..GOD BLESS YOU SRI LANKA!

  • RohanMarkJay on May 26, 2011, 3:28 GMT

    I love the way Mahela bats, he is a throwback to a more Civilised age in batsmanship. Which sadly due to the 20/20 is more and more dying off. I would love to see Mahela Jayawardene top the batting averages this summer. Such a elegant player deserves nothing less. Best of Luck Sri Lanka in the test series.

  • 3rd_man on May 25, 2011, 21:19 GMT

    hopefully MJ can get some runs on seamer friendly pitches to prove he is really a class act. not only targeting dead pitches to score runs and trying to get his average back to cover his failures in good fast tracks. Load s is a flat pitch we all know that. Sanga did in Australia, Tendulkar, Dravid they all did when it really matters. I am looking forward how he perform.

  • 3rd_man on May 27, 2011, 10:21 GMT

    I doubt MJ ability against good wickets and good bowling attacks. sorry to say this, he looks elegant when he plays but I don't think he got that much of ability as every one think him to have. every time when he given a challenge he fails. may be mental thing. he don't have confidence on his shot making against pace bowlers. cover drives , off drives etc. if you cant play your shots bowlers will put more pressure and take your wicket. all good players like Sewag, Tendulkar, Dravid they will play their shots and get on top of the bowlers. MJ don't have any confidence on his off side play. leg side he can play but this tour is real test for him.

  • akelumw on May 27, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    MAHELA JAYAWARDENE ................. THE ARTIST OF THE BATSMEN IN WORLD CRICKET...........

  • C.Dila on May 27, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    wish u Happy Birthday Mahela

  • on May 26, 2011, 10:52 GMT

    i dnt think sl need real class bowling to get wickets in English conditions...there z resistance to da bowlers with cold climate and wind...therefore we dnt need wrld class bowlers to strike in English conditions....gud steady line and length bowling will do delver da goods.......

  • Pathiyal on May 26, 2011, 10:38 GMT

    Mahela is definitely going to enjoy his batting in the green pitches. in the absence of malinga, 'somebodies' will definitely step up and cause break throughs. i think we can expect huge scores from mahela and sanga for sure. i wish them all the very best.

  • nuttyaboutcricket on May 26, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    Would love to see Sri Lanka do well against England, but will be surprised if they do so without Murali and Malinga. Their best chance is to bat well and put up huge scores. All the best!!!

  • stormy16 on May 26, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    If there is a guy you want to watch for a living, Mahela would be amoungst the favorites. Just a class player with silky skills and never seems to play a shot in anger. People keep talking about his away record but its really an excuse to deter from the class he is. All you really need to do is check the other class acts and their records in SL (or away) and lets face it not many have equal records home and away. This could be his last tour to Eng and as the senior pro he must deliver and deliver big..

  • on May 26, 2011, 6:08 GMT

    yaa!..it still hurts maha..it still hurtz..especially thnking about ur incredible innings!..(i'm talkin abut the WC)..but all the very very best to this series to prove all the skeptics and naysayers wrong!..GOD BLESS YOU SRI LANKA!

  • RohanMarkJay on May 26, 2011, 3:28 GMT

    I love the way Mahela bats, he is a throwback to a more Civilised age in batsmanship. Which sadly due to the 20/20 is more and more dying off. I would love to see Mahela Jayawardene top the batting averages this summer. Such a elegant player deserves nothing less. Best of Luck Sri Lanka in the test series.

  • 3rd_man on May 25, 2011, 21:19 GMT

    hopefully MJ can get some runs on seamer friendly pitches to prove he is really a class act. not only targeting dead pitches to score runs and trying to get his average back to cover his failures in good fast tracks. Load s is a flat pitch we all know that. Sanga did in Australia, Tendulkar, Dravid they all did when it really matters. I am looking forward how he perform.

  • Gee_Cambs on May 25, 2011, 20:34 GMT

    Really looking forward to see some fight and show the class to the english media..good luck guys:)

  • achi82000 on May 25, 2011, 19:13 GMT

    I think if England beat us it should be using bouncy pitches.We need to have somebody who has pace and height to use the conditions.I would like to see somebody like Tharanga Lakshitha who is tall and has pace.He got lots of wickets in domestic season too.At least Thilina Thushara.I dont think we need both Maharoof and Thisara in our squad.It should be only one of them.And it would be a big error if we judge Maharoof by his county records which is no where near international standards.I think we have given him enough chances but he has not done well.

  • on May 25, 2011, 19:02 GMT

    mahela-u &sanga r the most experience players in the side.u still have potenTial & cricketing experiece to win the series.may u & THE WHOLE TEAM WILLRECEIVE THE BLESSINGS OF tripple gem-buddha dhamma &sanga.I.AM SURE YOUR BELOVED WIFE IS PRAYING FOR SUCCESS OF U &REST OF THE TEAM MATES.good luck!

  • CrikBug on May 25, 2011, 17:52 GMT

    Mahya & Sanga r truly talented, committed, honest and articulate gentleman. Pleasure watching them play, talk to media and hw they conduct themselves among the team. Gr8 exmpls for youngsters.

    I m a SLn living away from SL but closely following cricket. Mahya, I cant imagine hw u felt to be on the losing side on the final after constructing that wonderful ton. It ws nicely paced, no chances given and also guided others v well. At the end of SL innings v truly believed this is going to b OUR day and Malinga fuelled it with those lovely 2 wickets. But...what hppnd aftr tht ws heart breaking; truly heart breaking. To this date I have never watchd a repear of that match, don't feel like doing so. But at the same time been SLn, beaten and exprincd the war since birth & probably been a Buddhist we cn embrace defeat as well. We dn't stone playrs or burn their houss. Instead we cheer them on their arrival evn as runnrsup.

    Wish the whole team all the best to conquer the English challenge!

  • on May 25, 2011, 17:51 GMT

    class player mahela :)....

  • CricketPissek on May 25, 2011, 16:27 GMT

    mahela and sanga have already proven themselves as modern great batsmen. Sanga would want to get on the honours board and Mahela has already done so twice. Now it's up to SL to win our first SERIES in england (exluding the 1 off test in 1998) SL has a tough but exciting 6 months ahead and Dilshan (and later Mathews) will get some great exposure in leading Sri Lanka under immense pressure. jaya wewa

  • Jharsha09 on May 25, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    Well said, Mahela! The world of cricket needs more people like you -- talented, smart, and down to earth, amongst others. All the very best!

  • on May 25, 2011, 13:51 GMT

    Nuwan Pradeep would be big blow for any team but SL are an experienced side that can be expected to cope.

  • vimukthi77 on May 25, 2011, 10:53 GMT

    You are a brilliont cricket but I have a question .You have mentioned in your article " A week might not seem like enough time to make the change from Twenty20 to Test cricket but we are quite used to doing this for the last three or four years, and most of my preparation will be done mentally ", so are you saying that you dont have to play domestic cricket (Three day matches) to prepare for longer version of the game ? Will see how are you going to perform.

  • McArthur on May 25, 2011, 10:34 GMT

    A truly sublime batsman and seems to be a very genuine person. I really admire his close friendship with Kumar. These two guys are shining examples for young cricketers - talented, committed and articulate. I hope they performs well in the coming series and I am looking forward to seeing them in the West Indies.

  • on May 25, 2011, 10:30 GMT

    Well Mahela,time for bat and ball to speak now.It is great that you and Kumar to back Dilly as this may be a big confident booster for him.He does't seem to be shaken up by any of the media highlights like weak bowling attack, inexperience etc....Good luck for tommorow and for the rest of the tour.Hopefully sun will stay alive and no disturbance with rain.Wales is notorious for weather.

  • manish053 on May 25, 2011, 9:59 GMT

    well said mahela about exuberant cricket and what players has to do while facing different challenges. It is elements of new sort of cricket where u have to adjust it and have to be familiar with this schedules.I think there should be leave system for the cricketers and when they want they can have vacations with the permission of their boards and ICC. ICC should make rules for the leaves for the cricketers. In this way they can have leaves without lousing anything.

  • WPDDESILVA on May 25, 2011, 9:10 GMT

    @ Nirmal - Vaas retired from Test Cricket. Where have you been??

  • urbanredfox on May 25, 2011, 9:06 GMT

    Wonderful batsman who will grace our grounds this summer. Can't help thinking a few of the England team should read this and be as positive and committed to everything they do, even if they'll never be as articulate as Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.

  • sanath007 on May 25, 2011, 8:46 GMT

    good luck maiyya....we need our world class batsman to perform as our weak link would be bowling...score big

  • Vijay_MatchWinner on May 25, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    Wonderfully said Mahela :) Good luck for the series. Beat the Poms

  • bismoy on May 25, 2011, 8:40 GMT

    He is wonderful player but i believe he has under perform in odi in particular,,,He should have avg above 40 in that format.

  • on May 25, 2011, 8:34 GMT

    @ Nirmala Kirtisinghe: Vaas is not playing becasue he retired from test cricket in 2009.

  • on May 25, 2011, 8:23 GMT

    @Meety-I would say it's too early to say England getting hold of the Sri Lankan's but if you see the Cardiff track ..I have seen how England pace bowlers were smashed to all parts of the ground by the Aussies when they toured back in time....so hopefully Sri lanka can do the same.....there are lot of things awaiting the Englishman...hope they are up for the task cause they will really sweat this time around......

  • Cannuck on May 25, 2011, 8:22 GMT

    @Nirmal Kirtisinghe: Vass "RETIRED" from test cricket couple of years ago. He just plays ODIs which he did NOT retire from. Just because he plays in England doesn't mean he is going to play TESTS as well... it was his decision to stop, so stop blaming the Selectors! Don't know why so many SL fans come here and ask the same old questions... gees, if they are true fans they should know what happens with you team... who's retired, who's new etc.

  • on May 25, 2011, 7:32 GMT

    Why isn't Vaas playing in the team? He's still the best bowler Sri Lanka has. What did he do to earn the wrath of the selectors?

  • Black_Rider on May 25, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    You are wonderful cricketer.....We love you.....Score a another hundred in England Mahiya.All the best.....

  • Apolloniac on May 25, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    Kewl article Mahela - hope you guys give Dilly all the support that he definitely needs. Our team has been pretty cohesive and have played as one for years so I trust you guys to deliver as you always have - GO SRI LANKA!

  • Balumekka on May 25, 2011, 6:10 GMT

    We Sri Lankans want nothing but to prove the world that Sri lanka is one of the best test sides on so called green pitches (We have already proved that we are a top ODI at anywhere on this earth , a top T20 on anywhere on this earth, and a top test side mostly on Subcontinental pitches!) Mahela and Sanga, two of the very best batsman SL ever produced along with Aravinda de Silva, need to make sure that mistakes happened in past is not happening this time!

  • Meety on May 25, 2011, 5:45 GMT

    SL will need to win this one to put some real pressure on the Poms. I am expecting England will finish the series well though!

  • Lord.emsworth on May 25, 2011, 5:45 GMT

    Great if the affable Mahela will do as he predicts and get a 'big one' in the Cardiff test and even the other two tests. He is a dying breed of cricketer both on and off the field - elegance and character. A century or two will for all time put the ghost of being judged a sub-continent wonder at rest. His 2 centuries at Lords under his belt makes the tag on him seems somewhat uncalled for.

  • crickstats on May 25, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    The warmup matches were good that SL won both of them, both after being behind on 1st inn., the good thing was Mahela and Sanga didn't contribute but still we won, hope in Cardiff, the big boys deliver, but with a speedster gone, it is a challenge, hope Maharoof comes good

  • shashika68c on May 25, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    I like this article, specially two words "challenging" n' "mindsets" ..... i am sri lanka and i have seen you play live many time....... you are the most stylish ....

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  • shashika68c on May 25, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    I like this article, specially two words "challenging" n' "mindsets" ..... i am sri lanka and i have seen you play live many time....... you are the most stylish ....

  • crickstats on May 25, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    The warmup matches were good that SL won both of them, both after being behind on 1st inn., the good thing was Mahela and Sanga didn't contribute but still we won, hope in Cardiff, the big boys deliver, but with a speedster gone, it is a challenge, hope Maharoof comes good

  • Lord.emsworth on May 25, 2011, 5:45 GMT

    Great if the affable Mahela will do as he predicts and get a 'big one' in the Cardiff test and even the other two tests. He is a dying breed of cricketer both on and off the field - elegance and character. A century or two will for all time put the ghost of being judged a sub-continent wonder at rest. His 2 centuries at Lords under his belt makes the tag on him seems somewhat uncalled for.

  • Meety on May 25, 2011, 5:45 GMT

    SL will need to win this one to put some real pressure on the Poms. I am expecting England will finish the series well though!

  • Balumekka on May 25, 2011, 6:10 GMT

    We Sri Lankans want nothing but to prove the world that Sri lanka is one of the best test sides on so called green pitches (We have already proved that we are a top ODI at anywhere on this earth , a top T20 on anywhere on this earth, and a top test side mostly on Subcontinental pitches!) Mahela and Sanga, two of the very best batsman SL ever produced along with Aravinda de Silva, need to make sure that mistakes happened in past is not happening this time!

  • Apolloniac on May 25, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    Kewl article Mahela - hope you guys give Dilly all the support that he definitely needs. Our team has been pretty cohesive and have played as one for years so I trust you guys to deliver as you always have - GO SRI LANKA!

  • Black_Rider on May 25, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    You are wonderful cricketer.....We love you.....Score a another hundred in England Mahiya.All the best.....

  • on May 25, 2011, 7:32 GMT

    Why isn't Vaas playing in the team? He's still the best bowler Sri Lanka has. What did he do to earn the wrath of the selectors?

  • Cannuck on May 25, 2011, 8:22 GMT

    @Nirmal Kirtisinghe: Vass "RETIRED" from test cricket couple of years ago. He just plays ODIs which he did NOT retire from. Just because he plays in England doesn't mean he is going to play TESTS as well... it was his decision to stop, so stop blaming the Selectors! Don't know why so many SL fans come here and ask the same old questions... gees, if they are true fans they should know what happens with you team... who's retired, who's new etc.

  • on May 25, 2011, 8:23 GMT

    @Meety-I would say it's too early to say England getting hold of the Sri Lankan's but if you see the Cardiff track ..I have seen how England pace bowlers were smashed to all parts of the ground by the Aussies when they toured back in time....so hopefully Sri lanka can do the same.....there are lot of things awaiting the Englishman...hope they are up for the task cause they will really sweat this time around......