For some reasons unknown to me, Mahela Jayawardene has been in for a lot of stick after his meagre start to this competition. People were even asking for him to be dropped.
Now, I know that Twenty20 and the other forms of cricket are two separate entities, and a batsman’s talents in one are not immediately shown in his exploits in the other. But honestly, people wanting Jayawardene to be dropped from the team are deluded. I mean, forget the fact that he is one of the most talented batsmen in the world, and the fact that he has scored about a zillion runs for us in all forms of cricket, but there is nobody in reserve, and indeed nobody in the domestic circuit who can possibly hold a candle to him – well, not yet anyway. If he were to be dropped, De Saram and Maharoof would be two of the first in-line to take his place. Neither of them, on a good day, would be fit to lace his boots (and that is not disrespecting them). Going beyond the current squad, Udawatte, Warnapura, and Kapugedera are all good batsman, but they are no Jayawardenes (yet).
Critics say that the current middle-order is very weak, and apart from the odd lusty blow, there is nothing much after the top four, and rightly so. So what is the use of taking out one of the top four, when Chamara Silva is obviously out of his depth? I’m not saying that Mahela is immune from the wrath of the selectors (notably, after the 2003 World Cup in South Africa), but he has just finished one of the best reigns of captaincy in the history of Sri Lankan cricket, and was at one point, the best captain in world cricket, and people should not forget that so easily. I didn’t think that Sri Lankan fans would be as fickle as some Indian cricket fans.
All this, of course, was before the Ireland match. We owe him that match, and if we go through against New Zealand, barring some amazing heroics, we owe him our passage through to the next stage (if we get to it), because we might as well be out if it was not for his batting performance. Class batsman like Jayawardene have a habit of coming to the fore when needed. Apparently, our batting depends on four people. What is the point of reducing that to three?
It is never nice to see one player struggle to get going time and time again, be it Jayawardene, or Chamara Silva, but other teams would get a very big boost if they found out that Jayawardene had been dropped in favour of a relative rookie. All I am saying is that people should give Mahela more respect than what he was getting from some during his lean patch.