Mahela Jayawardene
Sri Lanka's captain and leading Test run scorer

Sri Lanka in England 2011

We will miss Dilshan

It's a big loss, but we were never going to take any chances with our captain

Mahela Jayawardene

June 15, 2011

Comments: 12 | Text size: A | A

Kumar Sangakkara is set to lead Sri Lanka in the final Test, Rose Bowl, June 14, 2011
Kumar Sangakkara will lead Sri Lanka in the final Test at the Rose Bowl © PA Photos
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Our preparations for the third Test have suffered a setback with the news that Tillakaratne Dilshan's broken thumb hasn't recovered in time for the match. We gave him a chance to get back to full fitness, but he's still not 100%, and since he has been struck on the thumb three times already, the doctors felt he would be risking a long-term injury if he was hit there again in this match. They've decided it would be better to give him time to recover, and hopefully he will be fit for the one-dayers.

It's a big loss, but we were never going to take any chances with our captain. The swelling on his thumb was pretty bad last week, although that has now gone down, and his movement was pretty good in the nets the other day. But you don't want to go in with the mindset that your finger is not 100%. I don't think anyone wants to take that risk, especially someone as important to our team as Dilshan.

By giving him time to recover properly now, there's a better chance he'll be fit to lead us in the one-dayers, although that wasn't the reason for leaving him out. We do have pride in all forms of the game, not just one-day cricket, although with our recent form at the World Cup, we definitely want to continue that. But I don't think we will risk him if he's not fit initially. He'll only play again when he's fit and feels good.

In Dilshan's absence Kumar Sangakkara will take on the captaincy. He had to think about it for a few days, because he only stood down from the job back in April, but I think he felt that you have to take responsibility in a situation such as this. It's a Test match, we're 1-0 down, and it's an important opportunity to level the series. In the end he decided that for the team and for the country, it was the right thing to do.

It was unfortunate that we didn't appoint a vice-captain for this tour, because we never anticipated a situation like this arising. However, Kumar was always the guy to look after things if they went wrong. He didn't lead the side against Essex last week - Thilan Samaraweera took over the job there - but that was simply because he needed a break and a chance to concentrate on his batting. He's such a class act, you always know he'll come good after failing in a few games, and sure enough he batted really well for a big hundred.

Dilshan's absence means a big chance for one of our younger boys, Lahiru Thirimanne, to make his Test debut, and hopefully he can have a good run in England. He also got a good hundred against Essex at the weekend, so he's in good form, although to be honest he would have played whether he'd got a big score or not. He is the third opener in our squad, and we don't have any other options in that position.

Lahiru is a talented cricketer and this will be a great opportunity to show what he's capable of. At 22 he's still young, and he started out in our Under-19 set-up. He then came through the ranks and was part of the A team for the last year and a half, and has been a consistent run-scorer in domestic cricket. Although he only started opening last year, after batting at No. 3 and 4 initially, everyone has a high opinion of him as a longer-version player with the temperament to bat for long periods.

Not all cricketers get the opportunity when they are still very young, so this is a good time to get a first Test call-up. The wicket looks flat and the practice strips are slow as well, so he needs to go out and enjoy himself, play his natural game. It will be a great occasion for him.

 
 
"Personally I'm now at the opposite end of my career, and though you never want to go making big plans about when to call it a day, I'm aware that this Test match could well be my last in England"
 

Personally I'm now at the opposite end of my career, and though you never want to go making big plans about when to call it a day, I'm aware that this Test match could well be my last in England. Sri Lanka come to this country every four or five years, and I've played in every series since 1998, so it would be tough for me to make another tour when I'm approaching 40. But as I've always said, I take my matches one game at a time. This is a big occasion for the team, and every individual in the side needs to push himself in a bid to level the series.

Talking of retirements, there's been a lot of talk this week about Sanath Jayasuriya's return to the one-day squad for a farewell appearance. Now I don't know what the discussions with the selectors have been all about, but as far as we're concerned, he's a legend in our country, and we all know what he has done for Sri Lanka cricket. He'll get a good farewell, simple as that.

There are plenty of positives to take from Lord's to the Rose Bowl. Although we weren't able to maintain the pressure we exerted on England in the early part of the match, the signs were encouraging, and we'll know now to keep concentrating when we get opportunities, and finish the job off next time.

Our pace attack definitely looked more threatening than in Cardiff, with the left-armer Welegedara giving us a different option with the angle he created and his swing, and Dilhara Fernando looking really good with his pace. It's something to build on because we need attacking options to pick up 20 wickets.

For the next few days it's all hands on deck. Everyone needs to put their hand up and give it all they've got.

Mahela Jayawardene is former captain of Sri Lanka

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Posted by kalof123 on (June 17, 2011, 10:28 GMT)

Mahela please stop giving press releases, try to play your game. Dilshan is a excitring player, you dont want to say that team badly miss him. team actually miss your resposible batting. please think about it. dont be a media reporter. try to be a cricketer.

Posted by chiggers on (June 16, 2011, 19:42 GMT)

Why is there all this talk just about Sri Lanka? There's two teams playing in this test, you know...

Posted by SriDCric on (June 16, 2011, 19:26 GMT)

Can you please focus on your batting ! So many edges and caught at slips is not what we want to see.

Posted by   on (June 16, 2011, 10:50 GMT)

Graeme Swann is hugely overrated. He is like Michael Hussey (averaged above 80 first 3 years and then fell to 50 today), who is going through a purple patch, wait till 2013 and he will be just another off-spinner.

Harbhajan Singh is a proven legend, won many games for India, played for 13 years, has 393 Test wickets and has got another 8 years left.

Posted by Philip_Gnana on (June 16, 2011, 10:41 GMT)

People (or at least most of them) in a particular part of the world do not like whatever is written by a SriLankan or that praises the Sri Lanakans. A down to earth article, succinct in its comments making the reader to decipher for himself(or herself to be PC) the goings on in SL cricket. Being a senior player and a former captain and one of the most gifted batsmen in world cricket today, we need to respect and acknowledge what he has to say. Modest and down to earth as always. What a loss for SL cricket that we cannot call on his captaincy capabilities and qualities. Well done Mahela. Philip Gnana, Surrey

Posted by V.Vidhyashankar on (June 16, 2011, 10:32 GMT)

I don't know why Mahela is cribbing over Dilshan's absence. Regardless of whether dilly plays or not these flattrack bullies will be bulldozed by the english. May be Mahela was thinking about giving excuses for the loss even before the game had started. England would feel that it had missed an opportunity at Lords to make it 3-0. Only hope foir SL in tests would be dusty pitches in colombo with the temperature at 40 degress. Otherwise they have no chance. With the controversial Murali out retired they might find it difficult to compete in SL.

Posted by V.Vidhyashankar on (June 16, 2011, 10:29 GMT)

I don't know why Mahela is cribbing over Dilshan's absence. Regardless of whether dilly plays or not these flattrack bullies will be bulldozed by the english. May be Mahela was thinking about giving excuses for the loss even before the game had started. England would feel that it had missed an opportunity at Lords to make it 3-0. Only hope foir SL in tests would be dusty pitches in colombo with the temperature at 40 degress. Otherwise they have no chance. With the controversial Murali out retired they might find it difficult to compete in SL.

Posted by C.Dila on (June 16, 2011, 8:28 GMT)

i really likes the way he written articles.these articles also give some hints whats going on sl team.

Posted by Molu14 on (June 16, 2011, 8:14 GMT)

Now Ian O Brien, his blog was actually interesting. Provided an interesting cricketer's perspective.

Posted by Molu14 on (June 16, 2011, 8:13 GMT)

Wats the point of this article? Seriously? It is BORRRRING, and nothing the reading public could not have guessed/known. Mahela, I think you should stick with the bat instead of the pen.

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Mahela JayawardeneClose
Mahela Jayawardene Elegant and prolific, Mahela Jayawardene is easily one of the best batsmen around. By a fair margin he is the highest run-getter for Sri Lanka, and on his way to becoming an all-time great. His excellent slip catching, and sharp captaincy - until early in 2009 - made him a big contributor to Sri Lanka's cause. He and Kumar Sangakkara hold the world record for the highest partnership in Tests, 624 for the third wicket, against South Africa in Colombo. Jayawardene is one of cricket's gentlemen: well-mannered, humble, intelligent and articulate.

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