The Fly Slip interviews Mahela

Theflyslip managed to get a hold of Mahela just after the Pak series for an Email interview. He had played his 100th test during the Bangladesh series and we wanted to get his thoughts on a few issues on our mind.

Ps- We want to thank Mahela and his agent for helping us do this and sparing their time and for being candid with their answers. Cheers to them both !

Here is a snippet of the interview.

1. Playing a 100 tests for your country is a great achievement, a feat not even Arjuna Ranatunga or Aravinda de Silva had managed, did you feel nervous at all when you went out to bat or feel a sense of occasion?

Yes, before the game it was a special feeling as the guys wished me after the pre-match team meeting. I am very proud to have played so many Tests for my country and very grateful for having the opportunity to do so. Once the game started, though, you switch into game mode and focus just on the match.

2. What would you consider as the highlight of your test career and the lowest moment in your test career.

My high point was definitely my Test match debut against India back in 1997. Nothing has surpassed that. It was a great day. The lowest times were possibly the loss to England at SSC back in 2001, a series we should have never lost, and also the Pakistan defeat in Kandy in April 2006 when Mohamed Asif bowled us out cheaply.

3. The impact of T20 and the IPL on test cricket and playing for the national team has been undeniable, do you think it has come to a point where a player has to consciously decide between money and playing for the country? Have you had to decide between the two ?

To be honest, I don’t agree with the question that the impact of the IPL on Test cricket has been “undeniable”. I know the IPL and T20 cricket has its detractors, but if properly managed there is no threat to Test cricket. This year, for example, we are playing a full IPL and will play 11 Tests. Ideally, we should be playing 10 to 12 Tests a year. If you are referring to the England tour issue, all I can say is don’t believe all that you read in some newspapers. That whole issue was handled very badly and I hope future players won’t be put in that situation again. In the future, by 2012, I think there will not be any issues as all boards are pretty much in agreement that for the IPL there should be a window in the international schedule in April/May. England is the main affected country and they will probably adjust dates to allow English players to play 4 out of 6 weeks of the IPL before the English summer starts.

4. There is a general sense amongst fans that your captaincy has taken on a more negative approach since the last WC and the departure of Tom Moody,do you agree with that assessment?

I have not become more negative. Our one-day cricket since the 2007 World Cup has been inconsistent and when you are losing any captain will seem more negative. But I still believe fundamentally in the importance of being aggressive and the importance of taking the initiative. That is the Sri Lanka style and that is how I play my cricket. Also, bear in mind that just because we don’t have four slips means we are being negative. With our style of bowlers and the different conditions we have come across, especially slow pitches, we often use unorthodox positions as attacking positions like short covers or mid-wickets and leg gullies. We also employ in-out fields with bowlers like Murali and Ajantha and that is a tactic that has worked really well for us. It might look odd having a guy on the boundary and then two or three close fielders but it helps put batsmen under pressure and that is the key to taking wickets.

Full interview can be found here.

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