Experience for youth
SO Sanath Jayasuriya is finally back in the national cricket team
currently touring Australia. The decision to send him according to the
CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket, Duleep Mendis was taken by the interim
committee in consultation with the national selectors and the team
Mendis said that with the team not performing well in the VB
triangular Series (this was before they beat South Africa at Brisbane);
there was a dire need to address the poor batting performances which was
more or less the cause of most of the defeats.
"With Sri Lanka struggling in the batting department having a player
of Jayasuriya's experience would certainly boost it and give them
confidence," said Mendis.
He said that Jayasuriya underwent a full fitness test for more than
an hour under the watchful eyes of the two Sri Lanka Cricket
physiotherapists Priyanka Wickremasinghe and Ranjith Nanayakarawasam and
Sri Lanka 'A' team coach Stan Nel, before being given the greenlight.
Nel said that after being checked out by the physios, Jayasuriya was
put into general training with the Sri Lanka 'A' squad which was the
natural process with any player. Nel said that Jayasuriya completed all
levels of fitness - batting, bowling, fielding and even swimming.
He said that Jayasuriya finished with the second best time of one
minute, four seconds in a 400metres time trial which according to Nel is
'very good'. "He completed everything to our satisfaction," he said.
Jayasuriya also underwent a further fitness test at the request of
the national selectors which involved checking for a full range of
"He completed it without any restrictions. There was no pain,
swelling or any after effects after the test," said Nel before giving
him a clean sheet.
We are also told that Jayasuriya put in a lot of extra work on his
own by working on his batting at the nets with the help of a bowling
machine delivering balls close to 150 kph, gradually building up his
During the tour of India, the Sri Lanka team management had also made
it known to the national selectors that they would want Jayasuriya only
if he was fully fit.
Then and now
The difference between the Jayasuriya who went to India for the
one-day series and the Jayasuriya who has gone to Australia for the VB
series is that he has 'fully recovered' from his injury.
When he left for India he was declared by the physio as fit to bat
only with the chance of recovering during the series to bowl as well,
which he did. But it was clearly evident that he was not 100 percent
Like we commented in these columns a fortnight ago, no one questions
the ability of Jayasuriya as a cricketer if he is fully fit. He is no
doubt a match-winner with his bat (and sometimes with the ball also).
Where this great cricketer erred was by going to great lengths to get
into the national team on influence and play at all costs despite the
fact that he was not fully fit. That way he not only let himself down
but also his own team.
All the problems Jayasuriya faced in the past one month were
broughtabout by him. He had only himself to blame for the mess he put
Now that he is recovered and back to full fitness, one hopes that he
will inspire the team to chalk up a few more wins and qualify for the
finals of the VB series, a feat which we have achieved only once in
1995-96, soon after which we went onto win the World Cup.
On the long term Jayasuriya's presence is not going to help Sri Lanka
cricket because he will be replacing one of the two youngsters Upul
Tharanga and Jehan Mubarak who are just settling down as openers.
Both have shown promise for the future with runs behind them and it
will be hard on either of them if they have to be sacrificed.
Apropos our column last week, Mahela Jayawardene has written to say
that the reference made to him clearly leads the readers to the
conclusion that he deliberately ran out Michael van Dort during the
opening match of the VB series.
He also makes reference to being implied as part of a so-called
'player mafia' and that he is not a team player.
Jayawardene writes: "I completely refute all the above allegations.
During my career as a Sri Lanka cricketer I have been completely
committed to the cause of the team, often making personal sacrifices
both in my batting style and my position in the order to accommodate the
We would like to affirm here that reference to Jayawardene was not
made with any malice or intentions to harm his character as a cricketer.
If Jayawardene is 'deeply hurt and disappointed' as he states in his
letter, we are truly very sorry. Our sincere apologies to him.