Team needs fine-tuning: Jayawardene
Kandy, Aug 6: Reflecting on the 1-4 ODI series loss to India, skipper Mahela Jayawardene said that besides sloppy fielding, SL’s inability to execute plans cost them big. He believed the only T20I between the two teams, to be played in Kandy, was significant in the context of the ICC World T20 later in the year.
The veteran batsman also discussed Sri Lankan cricket’s process of nurturing talent and building for the future.
Excerpts from the pre-match press conference:
On how SL would approach the game tomorrow
It is a Twenty20 game. Anything can happen; you can’t plan too many things. You have to react on the field but we will have certain plans and try and execute them.
On the team for the lone T20I
We’ve got Shaminda Eranga for Kumar Sangakkara in the squad. He is fit and bowling really well so we wanted him to be part of the squad. We have got a fairly good idea but we haven’t finalised the eleven. We just had a practice [session] now and saw the wicket. We will speak to the selectors later in the evening and see what the options are as well and then decide on the final eleven.
On whether any member of the ODI squad had been left out of the T20I squad
No. it is the same.
On whether he was happy with the wickets that they got during the ODI series
I don’t ask for wickets. We played on pretty good wickets. We asked the curators to make good one-day wickets and I thought we played on good wickets in the entire series. They were high-scoring matches and good games so it was really good.
On what went wrong for his side
We played some good cricket but we didn’t handle crucial moments that well. There are certain situations in a match where it could go either way and we probably did not handle those situations that well. We missed a couple of crucial catches at times and batting wise, we built on partnerships and then lost crucial wickets. At the same time we were probably hard done by some decisions so all that contributed [to the losses].
On whether the losses could be attributed to an overdose of cricket
Mistakes happen because you didn’t execute [plans] that well. It has got nothing to do with the amount of cricket that we play. We try and go and execute a game plan on the field. We are human and sometimes we make mistakes. Like the other day, we accepted that we didn’t play good enough cricket. We played better cricket than Pakistan and we beat them but on this occasion we were not good enough. We made mistakes and it is tough when you make mistakes
On the significance of the T20I in the context of the ICC World T20
It is significant to identify a few roles for some of the players. We did that against Pakistan as well. We played two T20Is. [We played] a few different combinations, a few players in different roles, so we will try and do the same in this game. Plus when we play the SLPL [Sri Lanka Premier League], we will get to know who the guys in form are and which combinations we need to go [with]. We have a fairly good idea of 75 to 80 percent of the squad but four or five places are still up for grabs in that T20I squad. Everyone can put their hand up and perform and find a place in the final fifteen.
On whether decisions not going their way had an impact on the series
It’s tough to say. You get a decision and still you have to go and finish a game off in a crucial moment when a decision doesn’t go your way. It affects you – the bowlers and the fielders. [You try to] pick yourself up and try and create another opportunity. A couple of games we dropped catches at crucial times and that obviously cost us the games. Decisions going our way [or not] is a part and parcel of the game; we just need to move on. We know that we are playing some really good cricket and the youngsters are identifying roles [for themselves]. I was really impressed the way [Lahiru] Thirimanne batted the other day. He held the innings together and batted through the innings and showed a lot of aggression. Jeevan [Mendis] is now becoming a much better all-rounder for us, so those components are actually fitting into our combination really well. But there are certain areas that we need to fine-tune. We need to make sure that we are a consistent unit and everyone finds a way [to perform]. Unfortunately, [Dinesh] Chandimal did not have a great series but we know [about] the talent that he possesses. We just need to fine-tune certain areas and see how we can improve as a team.
On whether the future looked bright, given the way the team fought even in his absence
Yes, I am very pleased. Like I said, six months ago, when I took over, my challenge was to try and develop another team as well. Whoever gets into the squad, we teach them how to handle certain situations. Sometimes they will make mistakes out there in the middle but as long as they are learning from that, it is important. When the opportunity comes, we would like them to take more control of the team and take us forward. What we are trying to do is harness that and make sure that they are in a comfortable situation handling international cricket. We need to develop another team for the next five or ten years. All these guys are a part of the package now and there are a few guys that we have indentified from the Under 19s and various other squads. We need to slowly introduce them in the next six to 12 months and try and build another team.
On looking forward to building a whole new team with players like Thirimanne, Perera and Chandimal
I’m very excited but it’s about them being consistent and improving as individual players. It’s a big challenge for them. It’s one thing having the talent and another thing performing day in and day out over a period of time, which can be five, six or 10 years. It’s a great challenge for those youngsters. They have to work hard and we will try and help them as much as we can.
On Chamara Kapugedera’s sub-par performance
It is frustrating, but if you see the way he bats in the nets and the way Isuru Udana bowls in the nets, it’s totally different and [so] we give them an opportunity. I don’t know whether it’s [about] whether they can handle the pressure. That’s an area that we need to [address] and then if [we find] they cannot handle that kind of pressure out there in the middle, obviously we have to move on and give that opportunity to somebody else. But what we see at the nets – the attitude, the commitment – we feel that there is some spark in these guys. We have had players like Marvan Atapattu who didn’t have a great start but people gave him an opportunity so he reacted to that. We are trying to see if we can get anything out of it. But obviously they are not performing and if the younger generation comes through and they grab their chances, then they will get more opportunities than guys like Chamara or somebody else.
On whether he would say that time was running out for Kapugedera
It’s the selectors who have to make that call but the opportunities have been few and far between – not consistent. But if somebody is fighting for a spot, they should be able to grab the opportunities that they get. It is not easy. Only 11 guys play in a match. It’s important that when they get an opportunity, they grab it. It’s tough under pressure but we’ll see how it goes.
On whether Chamara Kapugedera was lacking in commitment and focus
I have seen a lot of commitment and focus at practices but probably once he goes out there in the middle, he lacks that focus and concentration. The pressure and how to handle it is obviously something that the coaches, and everyone with Kapu, need to work on. He is still young. He is only 25-26 so there is still time for him. If he can turn a corner he will be a good asset for Sri Lanka. The last T20 World Cup he probably made a big difference to us, [as also] in the Caribbean batting at No 6. The talent is there but the execution is not, so we need to identify how we can trigger that. That’s a challenge that we all face. [Like] with any other youngster coming through, we have to be patient. If he is struggling then give him a break and see if there is any other player [who can replace him]. But if he is good, we have to back him with the resources we have and try and maximise the opportunities.