Sad end for Jayawardene as T20 captain
Colombo: Sunday’s World Twenty20 final defeat to the West Indies was a sad end to the dreams of Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, who had tried so valiantly to win the trophy on his country’s home soil.
Four times now Jayawardene has been on the losing side in a World Cup final and, unable to hide his disappointment after failing to achieve his goal despite coming so close, the 35-year-old stood down as skipper.
The whole nation believed Jayawardene would lead the team to victory, but they fell short by 36 runs at the R. Premadasa Stadium.
Afterwards he said: “This is not a surprise — I have had a chat with the selectors and I am going to step down from the Twenty20 cricket captaincy for Sri Lanka.
“We need a younger leader [for this format]. It’s a great opportunity for a younger leader, it’s great opportunity for someone to start off with the Twenty20 format. I have spoken to the selectors and they are quite happy about it.”
However, Jayawardene made it clear that he has not quit as Test or One Day International captain. “I haven’t stepped down from other formats. I took over [the captaincy] till December, till the Australian tour. I will assess what I want to do after that. They will make a call on who is going to lead the side in Twenty20.”
He also insisted that he was not retiring from Twenty20 internationals all together, with his future to be decided once a new captain is named. “It depends on whether the new captain and the selectors want me,“ he said.
Jayawardene was clearly stung by the defeat and made no attempt to hide his disappointment. “It hurts a lot because you want to do something special and not just personally, but for the public as well,” he said.
“We have been playing some really good cricket, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to cross that hurdle. So it hurts, as a player, as a cricketer and as an individual. It hurts a lot but we just have to move on and see how well we could get over this and get back up and keep fighting again. I think that’s the most important thing.”
When asked whether he could pinpoint any particular reason for Sri Lanka’s four successive major final losses, Jayawardene said: “No particular reason. We play well throughout tournaments but in the last game we always seem to struggle.
“The last few finals we didn’t start well and this time we had a good start, but when we were under pressure we didn’t handle it well. That was why we lost this game.”
Sri Lanka tend to be consistent in selection across all three formats of the game, with the likes of Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Angelo Mathews forming the basis of their team. Some other teams — England and Australia in particular — tend to choose plenty of Twenty20 specialists for the shortest form, but Jayawardene doesn’t see the Lankans going down that route.
“We have a few specialist guys who play Twenty20 and one-day cricket. Our Test team is quite different to what we have got here. Mainly our one-day team and Twenty20 team is pretty similar, a few changes here and there in the bowling department, otherwise we have been quite consistent with our selections,” he said.
“Probably why we have been very successful and consistent in these kinds of tournaments is because we keep it nice and simple. We don’t make too many changes and have separate units going out there.”