By Dilanka Mannakkara | June 12, 2012
Lahiru Thirimanne talks about how the influx of limited-over cricket has hindered his Test preparations, the ‘Mankad’ incident in Australia and more.
You have been struggling in Test matches recently and you have not made many big scores; is opening the innings and facing the red ball a problem for you?
We played a lot of ODI cricket throughout and [had] a hectic Asia cup scheduled right in the middle. The preparation for the Test matches wasn’t sufficient at all. We had only two days of training but I cannot give excuses for my bad run. I should have played much better in the Test matches. I batted in the middle order in ODIs at a stretch and opening in Test matches is a completely different role. I feel I still haven’t adjusted fully to both the roles.
Sri Lanka have tried out many different opening combinations in the recent past, Tharanga Paranavithana is also pushing for a place in the side as an opener; is this competition a worrying factor for you?
Competition is always healthy. It pushes you to perform much better and brings the best out of you, since someone is waiting in the wings to grab your position. I need to focus on myself, my batting technique and score many runs as possible.
Do you have a specific role defined as a Test opener in the team? What has the captain and coach told you about your role?
There isn’t a specific role defined for me. But as an opener, my job is to see out the new ball and play safe. [Tillakaratne] Dilshan is a different type of opener who will blast from ball one. I play quite defensively [when] there is movement and then go for my shots.
You seem to struggle to rotate the strike at times; doesn’t this put extra pressure on you?
It really depends on the situation. I am working on my technique with Marvan Atapattu and I would like to keep the scoreboard ticking. But sometimes you have to be patient in your stroke-play without taking much risk.
How difficult is it to adjust from first class cricket in Sri Lanka to international cricket? How much of a gap is there?
Yes, there is a big gap and in Test matches the adjustment is more. I faced top quality attacks in my Test career from Pakistan to South Africa to England and it wasn’t easy at all. In domestic games, there are one or two good bowlers but in the international scene you face the very best.
You bat in the middle order in ODIs and you face the power-play there; being a steady, conventional player what is your approach?
In ODIs, I am more free to play my shots since the ball isn’t moving much. The field is spread wide most of the time, so I can pinch the singles. I am not a slogger but in power-plays I can play proper strokes and get runs. I started batting at number four for my club, so it helped me to bat in the middle overs in ODIs.
You seem to struggle a bit against spinners, as opposed to pace bowlers; are you working on your shot selection? Do you plan to use your feet more and unsettle them?
Bowlers read us well, especially international quality bowlers who are experienced and skilful. I do want to step out from the crease and play spin. With experience, I will do it more often. I have to improve on my batting against spin bowling.
What really happened between you and Ravichandran Ashwin in the CB series? Did he warn you before he ran you out?
He didn’t warn me at all. I didn’t know the proper law until I was out, so that’s why I stepped out and backed away. But you can see many international players doing it and it goes unnoticed. When the umpires check for a front foot no ball, you can see that how many non-strikers are backing away.
You bowl steady medium pace; don’t you want to improve more on your bowling and bowl more?
My primary role is to play as a batsman. But I can act as a part-time bowler who can bowl three to four overs when needed. I bowl everyday in the nets at practice. If the captain wants, I will bowl.
You field brilliantly and fearlessly at short-leg and you took some crucial catches in Galle against England recently to help Sri Lanka win; have you always fielded there?
In club games also I field at short-leg and it’s a customary position for me.
Who are the most difficult bowlers you have faced?
In Tests, it has got to be James Anderson. He troubled me with his movement. In ODIs, Brett Lee was very tough to face with his extreme pace and accuracy.
What are your career goals?
I want to be a permanent member in the ODI side and the Pakistan series will provide me a good opportunity for it. In Tests, I want to go on to make big scores.
Dilanka Mannakkara is a cricket writer for the Ceylon Daily News.
© Ceylon Daily News