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Was Tillakaratne Dilshan forced to quit Sri Lanka captaincy?


By Rex Clementine | June 16, 2012

TM Dilshan
Tillakaratne Dilshan suggests there is more to his resignation as captain than what we know. © AFP

Swashbuckling opener Tillakeratne Dilshan, at a media briefing yesterday, his first in Sri Lanka since stepping down as captain in January, was asked by journalists the reasons that made him quit as Sri Lanka captain. After Sri Lanka had suffered Test and ODI series defeats in South Africa under Dilshan’s captaincy, he was asked whether he would quit as skipper in Johannesburg at the end of the tour. Dilshan firmly turned down such suggestions. But barely 24 hours later, he announced he was quitting as captain amidst strong speculation that the new selection panel, under Ashantha de Mel, had forced him to quit.

"There were things happening at that time and with the way things were going I felt that it would be good to give up the captaincy and concentrate on my batting," Dilshan explained

"During that eight month period, I learnt a lot of things and I got to know who people are. I don’t like to discuss the reasons that made me quit as captain, as I am still involved in the game. But when I retire, I will let you all know why I quit.

"I didn’t want the captaincy and at that point no one wanted to take over as captain. There was no leader for the team and that’s what prompted me to take over the leadership."

Dilshan said his greatest achievement as Sri Lanka’s 12th Test captain was giving opportunities to young players.

"When I took over as captain, I wanted to give younger players an opportunity and I gave them as much opportunities as I could. Almost all of those players made the most of those chances and I am glad that they are taking the initiative these days to win us games. That’s my biggest achievement as Sri Lanka captain," Dilshan said.

"The other thing that I look back with fondness is being able to win a Test match in South Africa which no captain had been able to do," Dilshan, who led Sri Lanka to their first ever Test win on South Africa soil, added.

The 35-year-old tipped current vice-captain Angelo Mathews as the successor to Mahela Jayawardene but noted that there is lots Mathews still has to learn before being entrusted with the job.

"I don’t think we have a captain to be seen anywhere closer. Mahela is a good leader and until we groom another he will have to shoulder the burdens until the next World Cup.

"You can’t give someone the captaincy all of a sudden. Angelo has to be groomed under a good captain for two or three years [on] not only how to handle things on the field but off the field as well. Those are some of the things that I learned. It’s not easy mind you.

"I hope Angelo will be a good captain but he has time. He has to work under Mahela and get ready to go on a long journey."

© Rex Clementine/The Island

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