Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene has announced that he is eager to open the batting in ODIs for the remainder of the his international career.
Jayawardene revealed that he has been urging the national selectors to let him open the batting since the 2011 World Cup.
“The only thing I haven’t done is gone down on my knees to the selectors and asked for me to be allowed to open,” Jayawardene joked. “I have felt that’s the position I should bat leading up to this World Cup. The selectors obviously have a different theory. Because the middle order isn’t experienced, they wanted me to be there. But every time I have opened the batting, I have played my best cricket, been consistent and controlled the game. So we’ll see. We still have three to four months before the World Cup.”
Jayawardene has opened in 32 ODIs and enjoyed a lot of success as he scored four centuries and seven half-centuries at a magnificent average of 44.76.
“Every time an opener gets sick or has an injury, I am the first one to put my hand up and that’s how I got my opportunities,” he said. “In T20 cricket I’ve opened and that frees me up quite a bit and gives me that opportunity to start well and control the innings.
“To bat in the middle makes a big difference, especially against a good quality attack. Personally, it’s good to get back into that competitive mode and get my game plan sorted.”
Jayawardene also admitted that Sri Lanka have performed well below par in their ongoing ODI series against India.
“We’ve been very consistent home and away this year but unfortunately we didn’t hit the stride as soon as we came here,” he said. “But you always try to look at things in a positive way. We were able to try a few options before the World Cup and give a few guys opportunities and see if they are up for the big occasion. I think all in all even though it’s a disappointing tour, we’ve learnt quite a bit.”
Jayawardene also noted that he is looking forward to his final World Cup campaign and is determined to lead Sri Lanka to victory after they were beaten by India in the 2011 World Cup final.
“We will be based in New Zealand and our preparation is going to be good. We have two Test matches and seven one-dayers against New Zealand before the World Cup,” he said. “Adapting to surfaces in Australia and New Zealand is going to be quite different. One hurdle at a time, get through that and then from the quarterfinals, it’s on the day, how you keep your head, keep calm and execute.” Having already retired from Test cricket earlier this year, Jaywaredne will end his international career after the World Cup. As he leaves the stage, Jayawardene is convinced the future of Sri Lankan cricket is secure with Angelo Mathews at the helm of affairs as captain.
“He (Mathews) handles pressure really well as a batsman, and once you do that captaining the side becomes fairly natural as long as you are calm and collected,” Jayawardene said. “He had a fantastic year with the bat last year and as a captain as well, winning in England for the first time. He’s come a long way, we are happy that he’s settled now and by the time we leave, the team is in good hands.”