Jayasuriya calls for persistence with young team
Sanath Jayasuriya, the former Sri Lanka captain, has said Sri Lanka need to maintain faith in their young side and new captain despite the team's recent rough patch. Since reaching the final of the 2011 World Cup, Sri Lanka have lost one-day and Test series in England, at home to Australia and against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. Jayasuriya admitted results had been disappointing but said Sri Lanka were in transition since they have a new captain in Tillakaratne Dilshan, a new coach in Geoff Marsh and several young players in the squad.
"It's a bit disappointing to lose both the series," Jayasuriya said after the losses in the UAE. "It would have been ideal had we won at least one series. However, Sri Lanka are playing a number of youngsters so you need to give them some time. You can't keep changing the side. There are quite a few senior players and when they retire you need players who are already groomed to replace them.
"These are hard times for Sri Lankan cricket but we have talented players; the only thing they need is time, and we need to put faith in them and give them confidence."
Dilshan, who took over as captain from Kumar Sangakkara after the World Cup, has struggled to reproduce the form he showed in that tournament. Since the World Cup, he has averaged 17.43 with the bat in 16 ODIs, while in Tests he has averaged 24.81 over the previous two series. Jayasuriya backed Dilshan to come good and said he needed to be persisted with as captain.
"He [Dilshan] is a great player and we all have seen what he can do, but unfortunately he is going through a lean patch, so we need to have faith in him. He has just got the job and anybody who takes the captaincy needs time."
Since the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan last year, Sri Lanka have had an inexperienced bowling attack, but it was the batting that let them down in the UAE. Jayasuriya said the batsmen were not aggressive enough in the Test series and lamented the fact that none of the batsmen lent support to Sangakkara, who waged a lone battle, scoring 516 runs in the Tests. Sri Lanka's second-highest run-getter in the series was Tharanga Paranavitana with 195 runs.
"In the Tests, there were times when we did not look for runs and got bogged down," Jayasuriya said. "You need to have a decent run-rate to win a Test. The only batsman in form was Kumar Sangakkara but you need three or four batsmen to be among the runs. I didn't see others chipping in with runs and that's what Sri Lanka lacked."
Sri Lankan cricket has been in a serious financial crisis since spending a total of five billion rupees ($46 million) on stadiums for the World Cup. As a result the players have not been paid their salaries in the last six months, but Jayasuriya said that was not something that would affect their on-field performances.
"The previous board made a lot of mistakes and are responsible for this mess, and then the earlier interim committee made things worse. It is disappointing [not to be paid]. But when you play for your country you forget everything and that is what the players are doing. I am happy that they have not spoken about that."
Upali Dharmadasa, the chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket's interim committee, had said he was hopeful the players would be paid after the series in the UAE since SLC were expecting to receive the remaining payments of around US$ 4.3 million from the ICC for hosting the 2011 World Cup shortly.
Sri Lanka will play a one-off Twenty20 international against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on November 25 and then go to South Africa in early December to play three Tests and five ODIs.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent