Mathews lauds Jayaratne for team's resurgence
Angelo Mathews has credited Sri Lanka's resurgence against West Indies partly to the work of interim coach Jerome Jayaratne. The hosts have whitewashed West Indies in both Tests and ODIs, to earn their first trophies in any format this year.
During the Test series Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne had both spoken of the positive influence Jayaratne had had on their batting, but it's Jayaratne's player-management style Mathews called attention to.
"We've worked extremely hard on changing the environment - trying to get rid of individual doubts, trying to give players a lot of confidence, and trying to have the dressing room focused and calm," Mathews said of the fresh direction of the team under Jayaratne. "At this level it's very important to get your mindset right. Jerome speaks to each of us individually. We're looking at all the players enjoying the game rather than putting a lot of pressure on themselves. The coaching staff has been brilliant in working with individuals, and it's very pleasing to see the change in mindset."
Jayaratne appears set to be in charge of the team until the end of the New Zealand tour, which takes place in December and January. There are also suggestions from the board that Jayaratne could continue until the end of the World T20 in March, but those details have not been confirmed.
"As a coach Jerome's really gelling with the guys," Mathews said. "He's very lighthearted but he's very focused with the guys. He's specialised in batting and he's working hard with the batters. All in all he's a very good coach and a human being so we'd like to have him around."
Sri Lanka's top-order batting has been instrumental in the ODI whitewash, with openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kusal Perera hitting three half-centuries between them in the series. Mathews said batting was a key area of improvement from series earlier in the year.
"I see the batters take responsibility up the order," he said. "Very impressed with the way Kusal batted - he started off with a bang, then he shifted his gears and batted through the innings, which is very pleasing. We want guys like that to grab those opportunities when they get a start. Lahiru Thirimanne hit form in the second ODI and he also batted well in this one for his 21. It all looks good. It's just a change of mindset and approach."
Sri Lanka's attack was enlivened on Saturday by the introduction of fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera, who was regularly clocked in the 145kph range. He dismissed Denesh Ramdin with a fast short ball, and finished with innings' best figures of 2 for 39 from his seven overs.
"I saw Chameera hitting 147 if I'm not mistaken," Mathews said. "He bowled really quick on that slow wicket. It wasn't your typical Kandy wicket. It was a bit on the slower side, but he bowled with extreme pace and he rattled the West Indian batsmen."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando