Mahela Jayawardene wants to find new captain
Mahela Jayawardene has reiterated that his current role as Sri Lanka captain is a short-term job and he wants to find his successor as soon as possible.
He accepted a request to captain the team again after Tillakaratne Dilshan lost the post following the tour of South Africa and the results have been creditable so far, especially in the CB Series in Australia where they pushed the hosts to a third final, and then the Test series against England which ended 1-1. Jayawardene also claimed the Man-of-the-Series award after scoring 354 runs including two centuries.
However at 34, Jayawardene, who has now linked up with the IPL along with a number of his team-mates, knows he is coming towards the end of his career and sees a large part of his role now as ensuring a smooth transition to a new long-term captain.
"I've been given the challenge to lead the team and took that for 12 months to see what happens," he said. "I would love to groom another leader and hand it over to him as quickly as possible. That's the way Sri Lanka cricket should move on."
But Jayawardene has no immediate plans to reconsider his future in the international game. After a short-term slump in Test cricket, where he did not reach fifty in 12 innings, his results during the England series showed a batsman at the top of his game.
"After the World Cup I spoke to the selectors and said I'd take it six months at a time," he said. "It all depends on the hunger I have. So long as I'm performing to the standards I've set myself I'll play for a little longer, but when the hunger goes that will be the day I quit."
Sri Lanka's next engagement in Test cricket is against Pakistan following the IPL. There are a number of areas that they will need to address, not least the opening batting combination which failed to produce any solid starts. Lahiru Thirimanne was worked over by James Anderson while Tillakaratne Dilshan was stuck in one-day mode until the second innings in Colombo where he fell to a controversial review.
Jayawardene, though, does not want to jump to any conclusions about what changes may be needed and insists consistency will bring rewards in the longer term.
"I said before the series that Lahiru was given a chance in South Africa and I wanted to be consistent and give him a decent run before we make judgements on players," he said. "Now we've got a break before our next Test series so that gives us an opportunity to sit down with the selectors and discuss where we need to improve or if we need to make changes. It's a good place to be in because we've been consistent with our selections."
Rangana Herath, who took 19 wickets in the two Tests, will also need greater support in the bowling attack if he is not to be overburdened by the role of needing to take wickets and keep scoring rates down. Suraj Randiv partnered him well in Galle but struggled in Colombo where he was taken apart by Kevin Pietersen and by the end of the match Dilshan was the preferred offspinner.
"Rangana is the best bowler I have and you obviously bank on him," Jayawardene said. "The challenge I have is to try and not do the same thing we did with Murali (Muralitharan) and leave it as one bowler we depend on. We need two or three bowlers so we can take the pressure off him. But Rangana will keep delivering, he has the quality to do that on any surface."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo