Mahela Jayawardene should lead Sri Lanka until 2015 World Cup


Russel Arnold responds to questions from fans in his weekly column
June 30, 2012

Mahela Jayawardene
If Mahela Jayawardene is unable to lead, Sri Lanka will be faced with big problems. © AFP

Do you think Mahela Jayawardene will continue as captain until the 2015 World Cup? When should he step down? Who should be Mahela Jayawardene’s successor and who should be the vice-captain of the side? – Dilshan Amaratunga

I hope he does carry on until the 2015 World Cup but there is a question to be answered: can he get there? He has to take things slowly and judge if his body will allow him to go on. If fit, I think that the next World Cup should be his target. Angelo Mathews is the man for the job but it’s far too early to give him the leadership; I want to see Mathews play consistently without injury first. If Mathews sorts out his issues with injuries and Jayawardene carries on until the 2015 World Cup, I am certain Mathews will be ready to take over after the World Cup. I hope we are not forced to make a decision sooner; who do we have remaining to lead us?

Why is Dilhara Fernando still in the squad? – Althaaf

Good question. Fernando has all the qualities to be a top-class fast bowler. It is in hope he comes good that Sri Lanka keep going to him. He has pace and lots of variations, including probably one of the best slower balls going around, and he now has plenty of experience too. Although he looks strong, he has unfortunately struggled to stay fit and has never played consistently. I have sometimes wondered if he is mentally strong enough. But, like you, I am not too excited by his selection.

Why did you retire so early, at the age of 34, from international cricket? – Nadun Herath

I retired at 33 plus. And at this stage, when I look back, I do not regret that decision – I am convinced it was the right decision. I have a young family and my ride in international cricket was also rough; I felt more pressure from within than from the opposition. After looking at Sri Lanka heading to the next world cup and my personal options, it was best that I moved on.

Who would you like to see in Sri Lanka’s national selection panel – Amesh Fernando

It really does not matter who it is as long as we cover the bases – the right balance is important. The ideal selector must have time to watch cricket and also get to know players. If the selectors are not hands on and only pick players after watching on TV or after just reading the papers, it is not ideal. Local knowledge is good and I like the idea of having those involved in domestic cricket on board. You need a good diplomatic man at the top to take in the committee’s views, as well as work closely with the team’s views and goals.

Why did Ian Daniel, a player who was recognised as a great talent, never play for Sri Lanka? – Dinusha Muttettuwatte

Daniel was on the verge of being picked. He had played himself into contention after a relatively poor start to his club career. He was one who was spotted early in his school career with his sound technique and performances. But he never did get an opportunity due to Sri Lanka having Marvan Attapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya at the top. There was also heavy competition from the likes of Michael Vandort, Malinda Warnapura and even Tharanga Paranavithana. It was a time that he needed to keep scoring heavily to maintain that reserve batsmen’s spot. But, unfortunately, a dip in scoring let others get ahead.

With whom did you enjoy batting the most with and why? – Nimesh Jayasinghe

I enjoyed batting with Mahela Jayawardene the most. I had to walk into bat with the game in the balance very often and I found him the calmest out of the top-order players. He would not show any sign of panic and that would give me the opportunity to play myself in. It’s all about making good decisions when you’re out there. When I was breathing easier, I would make better decisions. And if the need be, he had the ability to improvise and get a boundary to ease any pressure; I understood him well. Even when it came to running between wickets, we would just look at each other – that’s all it took.

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© Island Cricket

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