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It's a big loss, but we were never going to take any chances with our captain
June 15, 2011
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 LankaFeeds: Mahela Jayawardene
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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