Sri Lanka news February 27, 2016

Jayawardene brushes off SLC president's criticism

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Mahela Jayawardene: "England didn't hire me to give information on the Sri Lankan team. They have analysts and coaches to do that" © Getty Images

Mahela Jayawardene has brushed off criticism from SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala, contending that his ten-day consulting role with England is largely geared toward player development and not toward providing specific tactical information. He has also said Sumathipala's questioning of his ethics was "laughable".

"My role with England is to help develop their cricketers, and to help with how they should approach different challenges - like playing spin," Jayawardene said. "The pools hadn't been decided when I agreed to do it. England didn't hire me to give information on the Sri Lankan team. They have analysts and coaches to do that. I'm quite disappointed to see those comments from the board, to be fair."

This is in response to Sumathipala himself having expressed "sadness and disappointment" at Jayawardene's resumption of the England job, in which he could conceivably reveal inside information on the Sri Lanka team. Jayawardene played his last ODI for Sri Lanka in March 2015, and had quit T20Is in April 2014. Sumathipala said a "cooling off period" of at least 24 months was appropriate, before Sri Lanka players joined opposition sides in a coaching or advisory role.

Jayawardene didn't rule out being asked to provide specific information on Sri Lanka's players and tactics, but said his ability to provide such insights was tempered by his having retired almost a year ago.

"By the World T20, I would have been out of the one-day team for 12 months, and out of the T20 team almost two years," Jayawardene said. "If the tactics of that dressing room haven't moved on in that time - if they are still playing the same way - then there's a problem, isn't it?

"There are also a lot of new players in this Sri Lanka team that I haven't played with. But even for the guys like Angelo Mathews, or Lasith Malinga, or Dinesh Chandimal, isn't the challenge to keep evolving?"

Sumathipala had suggested Jayawardene, as a former Sri Lanka captain, was being unprincipled in his acceptance of the England role. Jayawardene responded by asking whether Sri Lanka's recent hiring of Graham Ford was similarly unprincipled, according to the board.

"Ford has worked at Surrey with Jason Roy - the England opener - for the last three years. I guess that would be unethical as well. In my heart I've had Sri Lankan cricket right at the top, but I'm also a professional."

Jayawardene said he had worked almost a year on the domestic cricket revamp that has now been scrapped by the Sumathipala administration. That work was unpaid.

"All that 12 months of work was put aside when they took over," Jayawardene said. "I am not upset, but I'm disappointed. If they don't recognise my work, then how am I supposed to work in that environment? Was their decision to scrap that made ethically?

"That said, they are an elected body, and they are entitled to do what they think is best. There are actually no hard feelings. I wish them all the best, and hope that they can take Sri Lankan cricket further."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mevan on March 3, 2016, 14:41 GMT

    Mahela should not take the slightest notice of these inane comments. He has served Sri Lanka well and is free to take up any assignment. SL Board has not tried to get Hathurusinghe and treated him very badly. He and the other discard Kalpage are now serving Bangladesh cricket - brilliantly.

  • mjrvasu on March 1, 2016, 10:40 GMT

    So, why did the Sri Lankan cricket board not hire Mahela for expert advice? He is a pro, and is entitled to offer his services as he pleases. Take a walk Mr. President of the SL Board.

  • SL_Fan_5 on March 1, 2016, 0:43 GMT

    If you think Mahela is so valuable...hire him. He is a professional and a class act. Too many politicians in SLC. I wonder if any of them volunteered for their jobs. Don't think we will win any games until some real cricketers take over.

    Mahela gave us some advise on the club structure and that was ignored. No hope.

  • SLMaster on February 29, 2016, 15:04 GMT

    Mahela do not need to reply to Sumathi. Fans spoke for him !!

    These old chaps need to go. SLC need new faces, No one from the past should be.

  • Quizzy on February 29, 2016, 10:32 GMT

    Dear Mr Jayawardene, If I were you, I wouldn't even bother to reply such crap. You have given your best years for this country. Frankly speaking, Everyone else knows how much you are worth but our people know getting the likes of you and Sanga involved in the local setup will mean they will be questioned on every wrong turn they make.And they are many. All our people want are "yes sir" men. Carry on what you are doing. Wherever or with whoever it maybe, you are helping to develop the game internationally. I wish you the very best.

  • burner1985 on February 29, 2016, 8:59 GMT

    All of us in SL know the character of Sumathipala. Mahela and Sanga did so much for SL cricket despite the political pressures on them and we owe them an immense debt of gratitude. Non of the contemporary greats are involved with SL cricket for this reason.

  • izzidole on February 29, 2016, 0:15 GMT

    Sri Lanka Cricket cannot find fault with Mahela Jayawardena for offering his services as a short term consultant to the England cricket team for the T20 cricket world cup because it was Sri Lanka who started this trend in foreign coaches and expertise when they contracted Dave Whatmore the former Australian cricketer to coach Sri Lanka. It was Whatmore who was instrumental in helping Sri Lanka win the cricket world cup in 1996 at the expense of his own countrymen. Since then the majority of their coaches have been from overseas and most of them aussie coaches like Dave Whatmore, Bruce Yardley, Tom Moody, John Dyson, Geoff Marsh, Trevor Bayliss etc. I don't think the Australian Cricket Board has ever objected to losing their best coaches to Sri Lanka or England who cannot find anyone suitable in their own backyard.

  • jgoogly on February 28, 2016, 22:43 GMT

    Who is Sumathipala we all know about the wonderful cricketers Sri lanka had produced

  • eddie_1 on February 28, 2016, 22:16 GMT

    I remember when Tom Moody left as Mgr of SL cricket, even he commented on how he found it incredible that people like Mahela perform at the highest level of the game despite all the political crap they put up with. Here you can see even after these incredible players have left the scene the system still cannot improve itself enough to afford these players a bit of peace. Just goes to show if SL cricket had really been supportive and encouraging and less political in the lsat couple of decades, SL may have led world cricket and won the world cup several times since '96.

  • sherbaba75 on February 28, 2016, 18:14 GMT

    It was well contested match. At times SL were on top and at times BD were on top. SL should have won being a much better team but BD was too hot to handle for the islanders. Kudos to BD the team in rebuilding stage in this format for winning over a better side Sri Lanka. Fan from Kolkata.

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