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

We've competed, but we've slipped up as well

One bad session apiece has cost Sri Lanka their last three series. Ironing out those mistakes will be top priority for the side

Mahela Jayawardene

November 9, 2011

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

Kumar Sangakkara celebrates his 27th Test ton, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sharjah, 1st day, November 3, 2011
Sangakkara's form in the UAE: one of the bright spots in a disappointing series for Sri Lanka © AFP

It's essentially been one bad innings that has cost us each of the last three series. In Cardiff against England and then against Australia in Galle and now here in Dubai. It is something that we have acknowledged and looked at and it is an area where we need to improve. We realise we have slipped up and cannot make mistakes that cause us to lose entire series.

At the same time, the positive is that we competed really well in all three Test series. Though we are rebuilding, we know we are not that far from turning the corner and becoming consistent enough to win matches and series. We have to believe in ourselves rather than listening to what everyone else is saying. We just need to focus on what we are doing well and improve on that.

Even against Australia, in the last Test match we had a lead but we just couldn't bowl them out in the second innings. We need to be ruthless and convert those opportunities.

The Pakistan series has taught us a few things. We made a few changes. Tillakaratne Dilshan going back up the order has been a good decision, I think. We have all realised the potential of him opening the batting. He gives us a good strike rate at the top and he can change the game. Sometimes he will get out early, but we should not be too bothered about that. His return to the opening position is a very big positive.

We played a six-five combination in the third Test, going in with the extra bowler. Unfortunately Dhammika [Prasad] got injured, otherwise we would possibly have bowled Pakistan out quicker in the first innings, and even in the second innings, with the extra bowler, we would have had a better chance of winning the game. Unfortunately these things are out of our control.

The moves we made were the right ones and we can keep improving. We can try different combinations, and different tricks in our bowling. We need to look at being consistent in our batting, especially in the first innings of a Test match, where you need to control things - just be patient and grind through.

Another big positive was the way Kumar [Sangakkara] batted through the series. It was fantastic to see him dominating the way he did and the way he handled the Pakistan bowlers. We just need to build on performances like his and keep pushing ourselves.

We are looking forward to the one-dayers, where we play a different game. Pakistan are a good team; they pose a lot of threats in their line-up that we need to be up for. Their bowling will be their strong point. They have two allrounders in their line-up, which gives them extra options. With Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir and Junaid Khan, they have a lot of pace options. They have Saeed Ajmal as well. So their bowling will have lots of variations. At the same time their batting will be strong with Umar Akmal coming back. They bat deep into their line-up as well. They look very solid as a unit.

As for us, our bowling attack will be much improved with two experienced bowlers, Lasith [Malinga] and Dilhara [Fernando], coming back into the side. We have had a steady one-day batting line-up the last year or so. With Dilshan opening and Angelo Mathews fit and a young Dinesh Chandimal coming back, we have a good side. It will be crucial to take control of the series early, so it is very important to win the first two.

We are used to switching between formats. Whatever has happened in the previous series, you turn around and say, "This is a fresh start." We have some fresh guys coming in and that does give you a bit more energy. A Test series can be really draining after three, maybe four, weeks of tough cricket. So to get a few fresh faces in raises the energy in the camp and does make a great difference.

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

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Posted by Roshini on (November 11, 2011, 10:46 GMT)

So Mahela's well digested theory of "ONE BAD INNINGS" costing the side dear has been proved utterly wrong by the South Africans at Newlands.SA has just delivered a great cricketing lesson to all pundits who think otherwise. What a magnificent turn around by their bowlers after conceding a near double hundred lead.Can SL ever boast of a similar scenario? Your guess as good as mine... Roshini Vass - Homagama Sri Lanka

Posted by On_me_head_son on (November 10, 2011, 18:31 GMT)

Mahela is a class batsman.Sure he's going through a 'lean' patch at the moment but even the greats like Sachin & others have struggled at some point in their careers. Both Mahela & Sangakkara are the backbone of the SL batting line-up and it's amazing how they've managed to deal with that pressure over the years.Without Murali working his magic Pakistan definitely have the edge in the bowling department.But with Malinga back it will be an interesting series.... From a Pakistan fan.

Posted by natmastak_so-called on (November 10, 2011, 13:17 GMT)

i am afraid if this srilankan attack can even bowl out bangladesh twice.

Posted by KarachiKid on (November 10, 2011, 12:23 GMT)

Mahela you are a true gentleman and GREAT batsmen. There is a lot of respect for you and Sangakarra in Pakitan. Howver, I believe it was not just one session that cost you the series. Your batting under performed more than once and you seem to be lacking a good quality bowler that will run through a batting lineup. Actually even Pakistan does not have that kind of bowler, but we do have two or three bowlers that bring a lot of variety into our attack. You will see Pakistan bowlers hunting in packs rather than relying on one. So thats the area of concern for you guys, try to groom your attack to atleast start hunting in pairs !

Posted by denwarlo70 on (November 10, 2011, 12:18 GMT)

Lot's of people are very critical of Mahela J's form nowadays. We all know everyone has a lean patch and we need to give time to this bloke too. Look at the great Sachin T, he has been struggling to score his hundredth hundred for such a long time and missed it yet again against the WI team a few days ago. Batsmen cannot score runs in every game, there are ups and downs and we as fans and supporters must back them instead of trying to write them off.

Posted by rexy_cricks on (November 10, 2011, 10:14 GMT)

mahela u r keeping ur eye blind to many issues.OSTRICH PHENOMENON.against aussies only RAIN saved you from 2-0 humiliation and poor fielding of pak gifted you another draw. you have to accept that without murali SL is toothless in their bowling and on the other hand except sanga your batting is also pathetic including you. keeping thilan outside playing wasnt a good move as u dont have justifiable replacement. IT IS TIME TO ACCEPT YOUR WEAKNESS AND WORK ON THEM.

Posted by Amjadhusain on (November 10, 2011, 8:10 GMT)

The score line should have been 2 nil to Pakistan had Pakistan fielders taken the catches. Yes I agree with Mahela with regards to one bad session- which Pakistan had.

Posted by Roshini on (November 10, 2011, 7:59 GMT)

Common MJ you are experienced enough I guess to understand the underlying causes towards this rapid decline on test arena. Your "ONE BAD INNINGS" belief is good to fool the novice. Admit the fact that we were dominated and outplayed by England, Australia in "HOME CONDITIONS" and now by Pakistan on near "DEAD PITCHES". True enough our batting failed at times but it was our highly incompetent bowling unit's inability to get sides bowled out twice that made the difference between winning and losing. Since gaining test status we have had spent 29 years and out came just one consistent match winning spin bowler and two classy fast bowlers in Vass and Malinga. Sorry to say the truth here that our present crop of bowlers are simply not talented enough to trouble the international batters at test level and let alone men even Geoff Boycott's Mum would have fancied batting for two days against our current attack. Roshini Vass - Homagama Sri Lanka

Posted by mits6 on (November 10, 2011, 5:21 GMT)

Not a single Match winning bowler in this SL team . Missing u murali.

Posted by jezza25 on (November 10, 2011, 3:58 GMT)

jezza 25 - I agree with 'Fauzer'. I have also been a great fan of MJ, classy player and carried the batting with KS for a few years now. But yes maybe put the 'pen' away and concentrate on finishing your individual career on a high plus contribute to the team and leave SLC with a positive and exciting future. They do have some talent there and need to start again. I understand when you say that one session can change the complexion of a match or the confidence of a team, but yes that should not be used as an excuse iin the final outcome (win,lose or draw). SLC has had too many changes at the helm in recent years, namely the board. They need to stabilise so that it has a chain reaction to the coaching staff and players, but with SLC that is an unknown quantity, justified by another 'change' next month (December).

Posted by demon_bowler on (November 9, 2011, 23:48 GMT)

Agree with Clive_Dunn. Sri Lanka managed to bowl England out just once (for 486) in four innings, and were saved from a heavier defeat only by the weather.

Posted by playitstraight on (November 9, 2011, 23:28 GMT)

Well Mahela sure knows how to write a blog but I'm afraid his batting has gone from high class-excellent to pretty good to good to average and now to horrible. In the Eng vs SL series, he failed to score a single half-century, which cost SL the test series. In the Aus V SL series (on his home ground), he scored a century on a really tough pitch (purposely prepared by SLC to assist the spinners) and then scored 2 half- centuries. So it was a pretty good series but it was in SL so that was expected. Now in UAE, Pak vs SL series, he repeats the Eng vs SL series feat, and fails to make a single half-century, which again, cost SL the test series. With the SA v SL series coming up in SA, Mahela is going to be in big trouble and it might cost the team if he does not score. He needs to practice at least 8 hours in the nets daily, to regain his form. With the ODIs coming up, he will be expected to fire, and hopefully will deliver the runs. Good luck SL and Mahela!!!!

Posted by cric_freak88 on (November 9, 2011, 23:05 GMT)

i'd rather say one bad fielding session for pakistan , and the scoreline wudve been 2-0 !!

Posted by brittop on (November 9, 2011, 22:40 GMT)

Admitedly this is without looking at the scorecards, but I seem to think it's been their first innings batting that's been the problem, not one bad session. Excellent second innings batting has saved them on a few occasions (not Cardiff though!). Also they didn't push on in the first innings of the third test v Pak when they did start the innings well. Saw an article recently that they have been relying on Sanga & Mahela for runs a little too much which surprised me a bit, but maybe it's true.

Posted by 3rd_man on (November 9, 2011, 20:02 GMT)

This guy don't even mention his poor batting cost SL series. MJ becoming waste of space in SL batting. Thilan should bring back instead of Mahela. I can imagine how this guy struggle in South Africa. against Steyn and Mokel bouncy seaming wickets,,,, we can see how big talking mahela perform those conditions. This guy have big technical issue, which exposed since England tour. T20 he enjoy because in that format batting technique not tested. I am sure this guy hope Dilshan or Tharanga fail in opening position so that he get a chance to open the batting. then he can fool selectors scoring some cheap runs to keep his position in the team.

Posted by Charindra on (November 9, 2011, 16:35 GMT)

One bad session??? That would be true only if that one session made the difference between a win and a loss. But what happened over the last 3 series is that "one bad session" made the difference between SL being 0 - 0 and losing 1 - 0. Is that something to be proud of?? Talk about low self esteem and lack of self belief. Murali was the greatest spinner ever, but I would like to think that over the past 15 years SL's record was not built solely on one player. Ridiculous excuses by Mahela.

Posted by salman_0902 on (November 9, 2011, 16:26 GMT)

Mahela should be thankful to Pakistani fielders and umpires otherwise 3:0 loss was always there. really hard to take his excuses, kinda annoying. mate just go to the nets and leave this column writing to jounalists. or write after the series is over.

Posted by stormy16 on (November 9, 2011, 16:17 GMT)

This is the sort of wishy washy nonsense that doesnt address the real issue. SL have been pathetic three series in a row and the series before that followed on against the WI in Galle before rain washed out the rest of that series. Mahela's lack of contirbution in all of this has been a huge factor given he is the most experienced batter. More than anything else its the change in attitude to batting that is crazy. SL's attitude appears to have changed to just block. What this has led to is the presure leading to wickets falling and with no runs on the board. Also with such a weak bowling attack ALL chances need to be taken and SL keep missing vital chances and a lack of creativity to create opportunities.

Posted by mustufa on (November 9, 2011, 16:01 GMT)

The name of the article should have been the other way arnd, this positive spin on everything stinks, sometimes admitting your mistakes helps.

We Slipped but we competed as well.

You were basically not in the first two tests. Even in the last one, you could not get Pakistan out for less then 300, nor you had the courage to declare right after rain, what was the point of batting at that stage. Injury is part and parcel of the game, but it has nothing to do with luck. A freak injury like McGrath stepping on the ball before play is unlucky, not a regular injury, that just means you are not fit enough, if it was luck Akhtar would have blamed his entire career on luck, he was not fit enough.

Posted by blackjesuz on (November 9, 2011, 15:37 GMT)

Mahela this is just denial. You may have only lost one game due to one bad innings, but you have also been outplayed for the remainder of the series and never looked like winning. Against Australia only weather saved 2-0, and against Pakistan, freakish 6 dropped catches saved 2-0 also. Acknowledge that you do not have performing young batsman, or a potent attack, and that is what is holding you back, not as you say "one poor innings".

Posted by getsetgopk on (November 9, 2011, 15:32 GMT)

Sri Lankan bowlers have been tried and tested enough. They are not up for the job of taking 20 wickets not even 20 pakistani wickets even though pakistan is ranked sixth in ICC rankings. this just proves one thing their bowlers are not up for it they should quickly find and try some youngesters and see if that can change anything. playing with the same bowlers is just hoping against hope. time to hit the panic button before the patient (sl Cricket) hits the flat line. if somethings not there then its not there stop wasting time and go look for it somewhere else. all the best Lanka (from a pak fan)

Posted by KingOwl on (November 9, 2011, 15:29 GMT)

Clive_Dunn: In extremely favourable home conditions in the Spring, England won the series 1-0 thanks to a freak session of play by SL. So, let us not get carried away by England's performance. England beat India very convincingly at home and then got hammered in India. When England travels to SL, have no doubt, England will get hammered. But on to Mahela's article: When a team loses one series due to a freak session it is understandable. But three in a row is not acceptable. Second, why did Dilshan go down the order in the first place? If the team had confidence, it wouldn't have happened. Finally, this team looks rather scared to lose. What was the deal with the delayed declaration. The fans had far more faith in the team than the team itself did. So, Mahela you need to face reality. You guys appear pretty wimpy, if I may say so.

Posted by hassan13 on (November 9, 2011, 15:28 GMT)

@ clive Dunn look at India (rated no. 1 before the series) they far more competitive than them IPL rockstars.

Posted by Clive_Dunn on (November 9, 2011, 13:40 GMT)

I'm not sure that many people who saw the series vs England would think that the Sri Lankans were "really competitive".

Posted by S.Jagernath on (November 9, 2011, 13:22 GMT)

Mahela Jayawardene fails to realise that his form is poor because he is playng away from the sub-continent Every surface in the test series was xtremely flat and still he played as he alwayz has away from the sub-continent He will find form again when he heads back to the SSC,but first the greentops of South Africa and Dale Steyn awaits him Lets see if Sangakkara can average 100 in South Africa

Posted by goldeneye075 on (November 9, 2011, 12:19 GMT)

We know that Mahela is not in a good form, but give him a break guys, he did carried the sri lankan batting for some time. He will eventually run in to a bad period as it's cycle of things. He will find his form someway or another. As Mahela metioned we are a rebuilding unit, most of us do not belive it but it's the reality !!! Our batting is the one that it will keep the team going .. but we need to find bowlers that do have the capasity, to become better. I do admire the Herath's work as a spinner, he do need someone to compliment him, bowlers do not come with in few days>> even great Muralli needed few years of experience .. need to give bowlers some time to come to terms of things.. I hope it will get better.. main concern is we need to find a good spinner who can trun the ball on any given surface , until that is made it will be come little difficult .

Posted by Hamza_1 on (November 9, 2011, 9:51 GMT)

One session cant cost u the entire series.They were outclassed in the first 2 tests and had Pakistan taken their catches in the 1st test, it would have been ab an annihilation.Lanka needs atleast one match winning bowler and their batting is as much of worry as their bowling.

Posted by Trickstar on (November 9, 2011, 8:16 GMT)

'One bad session' lol righto mate, lets not bother mentioning the hopeless form of some the batsmen and one of the most toothless attacks I have ever seen from a major test playing nation, surely it's not just down to having a bad session, it's about not being able to compete if you can't take 20 wickets or put huge totals on the board.

Posted by ian_ghose on (November 9, 2011, 8:06 GMT)

Blocking hundreds of deliveries, not rotating the strike, letting the opposition bowling settle into a rhythm and scoring at 1.9 runs per over, isn't really playing well. I don't know whose idea it was to keep blocking, but it has failed miserably in 2 test series' on the trot,both of which Sri Lanka should have lost 2-0,but somehow managed to lose just 1-0. Step it up a bit, put pressure on the opposition bowlers - its not as if you were playing against Ambrose, Holding and Marshall at the WACA or Trent Bridge or Headingley of old. Sri Lanka must be the only subcontinent team that looks clueless against spinners.

Posted by Romenevans on (November 9, 2011, 7:57 GMT)

LOL Sending Dilshan down the order and then again having him Up the order is a big positive? MJ should start working on his batting rather than writing.

Posted by Fauzer on (November 9, 2011, 5:46 GMT)

Mahela, like millions of Sri Lankans, and other followers of cricket around the world, I am a huuuge fan of yours - for the classy batsman you are. As much as I am a great fan of Sanga, Sanath, Aravinda & co, to me, you are just a little special.

But can you please get off writing about cricket while you are still playing? I mean any follower of cricket can write the stuff you are writing - which are just observation of how the team has played, positives, negatives, and what what gaps to fill. It shouldn't need a magnificient cricketer like you to do it.

Hoping for many more great innings from you.

Posted by crickstats on (November 9, 2011, 4:58 GMT)

As a Lankan fan I would have been happier if SL lost the series 2-0 going for a win in the last test, they have played very negatively throughout the match with a run rate of around 2.5, the team selection was good but actions on the field didn't suggest that they were going for it, it was one of the most boring series of tests I have ever come across, both teams in fact didn't want to take the risk and ultimately cricket suffered, the series was a bad advert for tests, even the New Zealand - Zimbabwe series was watchable

Posted by Ms.Cricket on (November 9, 2011, 3:45 GMT)

Nowhere does Mahela Jayawardene mention that his own form was poor and that cost the team. Like Ricky Ponting, Mahela has been an outstanding batsman but it is time to give a fresh player the opportunity. What's this team spin that poor first innings cost them? It happens all the time - the bowlers have to then lift and then the batsmen in the second innings. It is not a valid excuse. Teams have been dismissed for lower scores in the first innings and then gone on to win the Test umpteen times.

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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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