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September 29, 2007
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene has said that if his country was to make any headway in the Twenty20 format, the Sri Lankan cricket authorities must plan out a proper structure for it domestically.
"Twenty20 is something unique and provides a lot of challenges to cricketers," said Jayawardene. "If we are to go forward we need to play more Twenty20 cricket domestically at a highly competitive level, not just clubs competing with each other day in and day out.
"We have to look into getting the best players involved and have a high quality tournament," he said. "Twenty20 is going to be a part of the international calendar, so we need to develop specialist players for this type of game."
Jayawardene said that with every game Sri Lanka played in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20, they learnt a lot.
"Hopefully we should get a few more good cricketers coming through this system who will be really good Twenty20 players. Guys who are in the middle should be able to handle tough situations, not panic, be cool-headed and have confidence in what they are doing and bat according to situations. Bowlers with a lot of talent and variation who can adapt to different conditions will also come into play.
Jayawardene stated that it was disappointing that his team won only one of their three matches in the Super Eights, against Bangladesh, but had words of praise for his bowlers.
"We started off very well and we had our chances, but we made a few mistakes especially in the batting department. We never batted to our potential. We tried to do too many things which were not in our control," he told the Nation. "If we had stuck to our strengths and batted accordingly we probably would have given a better account of ourselves."
He praised his bowlers' performance at the Twenty20 event. "The bowlers bowled really well throughout the tournament. Even without Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan] they put their hands up and performed really well. Credit should go to them."
Jayawardene was of the opinion that the ICC would not allow Twenty20 to replace the fifty-over game.
"Twenty20 has been brought in to get in more crowds for the game. We need to strike a proper balance between Test cricket, one-day cricket and Twenty20. That's the right way to go about it. The more we play Twenty20 the more we get kids involved. It's obviously good for the game, but the real challenge for individual professional cricketers would be Test cricket and one-day cricket to test their capabilities.
"Twenty20 cricket will develop individual skills. It will improve the one-day version just as one-day cricket improved Test cricket - run-scoring became faster, and Tests became more interesting and result oriented. I'm sure Twenty20 will have the same impact on one-day cricket as well."
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