Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene wants his team to play good hard cricket and establish themselves as real contenders from the first game onwards in the Commonwealth Bank one-day triangular series in Australia.
“We got a tough challenge ahead of us. There are little, little things we need to improve quite a bit. I don’t know how we will react in Australia but we will definitely fight for all the matches and try and be consistent as a team,” said Jayawardene who has once again taken over the reins as captain to guide his country’s destiny in cricket.
The series commences at Melbourne next Sunday (February 5) with host Australia taking on World Cup champions India. Sri Lanka’s opening match of the series is against India at Perth on February 8. “It’s a great challenge to play Australia and India in Australia. Both are good one-day teams and in the recent past they’ve shown that,” Jayawardene continued. “We must show that we are here for business, no complacency, work hard for each run and each wicket and try and dig ourselves deep to win matches. That’s the only way we can go forward.
“As long as we show the determination to fight for each and every game we will win more matches than we lose. That is the situation we want to create. When we were shot out for 43 we were not ready for the situation which South Africa created for us. We were ready for them in the next few games where we consistently put runs on the board and came back strongly.” Jayawardene said what the team lacked was to believe in their ability, which was most important. “There’s no point having the ability, you have to trust it and put our minds to it knowing we are capable and we have the talent and the ability to perform. We have to give them the freedom to play to their ability. We need to identify each and every player’s strength and weaknesses and see how we can formulate that into the team for a winning combination.
Speaking further he said that as captain the national selectors wants him to guide the team by giving a lot of confidence to the youngsters and to each and every player to play a brand of cricket that Sri Lanka used to play. “As a leader I am expected to make solid decisions for the team and to try and advice them on decision-making. The selectors have given me a free hand to do that with the help of the coach and other coaches,” said Jayawardene. Part of Jayawardene’s job is to give responsibility to the younger group of players and get them involved in most of the decision-making on and off the field and to find out how they react to such situations.
“We need to give them opportunities to lead the team in warm-up games, give them options and try and work with the coach and selectors and everybody on tour,” he said. Jayawardene is of the opinion that the team needs to groom a series of leaders not just one for the future. “Why we’ve been successful in the last few years is because we had a lot of leaders,” said Jayawardene. “The time when Arjuna (Ranatunga) captained we had a lot of leaders in the team, that’s important. It shouldn’t be just one person who is leading the side there should 6-7 guys who should be leaders thinking like that. We need to try and implement those kinds of ideas into the team.”
Explaining why he undertook the Sri Lanka captaincy for a second time after quitting in 2009, Jayawardene said, “I told them (the selectors) that I was going to do it for a short period of time and they agreed. I am 35 this year and every three months and after every series I am assessing myself what I want to do and how I want to go about it. In a situation like this to take on the captaincy is a big responsibility. I had a duty towards the team. I said short term and they agreed. One year gives me time to think about it as well.” Jayawardene admitted that he was personally disappointed with his batting form especially in the Tests and if the trend continues he would seriously thinking of quitting from the game.
“If I am not contributing to the team the way I want I will reassess my situation and make a call,” said Jayawardene. “Even though I have been given the captaincy for a year I’ve said that I will assess my performances. I just don’t want to be in the team as captain I need to contribute and to it put in my share of the workload. That’s how I have played in my entire career.” Jayawardene stated that it is very unlikely that he would be around till the next World Cup which is in 2015. “The World Cup is so far away it feels like 5-6 years away. I will be 38 by then and it’s a big ask. I don’t have any desires to be around for that long. Whether I will have the hunger to play in another World Cup will only be known in the next year or so,” Jayawardene said.