Thirimanne had played in the four-day matches against West Indies A in October and averaged 9.83 from six innings, continuing his struggles in long-form cricket. Since January 2014, he has made only two fifties in 16 Tests. As a result, he has missed Sri Lanka's home series against Australia in August and was not in the squad for the tour of Zimbabwe either.
"Everyone goes through a bad patch sometimes," Gunawardene said. "It is best to give it a break, a few weeks from cricket. Sometimes when you do wrong things and when you take a break you forget them. You basically tend to forget what you are doing wrong and you come out fresh.
"Thirimanne needs to take his mind off cricket and take a break. There is hardly anything wrong with his technique. The issue is probably more mental than technical. You could see that when you talk to him."
When he debuted, in 2011, Thirimanne was seen as a player who could take over the No. 3 spot for Sri Lanka in Tests. Kumar Sangakkara had been their specialist in that position and though it has been over a year since he retired, the transition has not happened. Thirimanne has slipped down the pecking order and 21-year old Kusal Mendis has been given the No. 3 position.
Gunawardene felt Thirimanne's major problem was confidence. "In the four-day game, he dropped a few chances and it's all to do with confidence. His confidence level is a little down. He tried to defend while batting and he got out and in the second innings. He tried to attack and still got out.
"Thirimanne is a very good player and we all know he is capable of big innings. To me he just needs to get out and take a break for a couple of weeks and come out with a fresh mind."
Thirimanne would still need runs, though, to make it back to the Test side and Gunawardene believed a profitable domestic season could help him achieve that goal. "It's a good opportunity for him in the upcoming domestic season to go and get back into form, score some big runs and get his confidence and rhythm back."