Jayawardene guarded on Test future

Gill Saab

Yaar Malang
Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene has said he will assess his Test future on a series by series basis and will continue as long as he is satisfied with the way he is contributing to the team. Jayawardene, 37, is currently on tour in England and he said this will probably be his last Test tour to the country.

"I am taking it one tour at a time and assessing myself. Personally, I don't think I need to prove anything to anyone so it's about me challenging myself and seeing whether I can keep improving and most importantly, contribute to the team," Jayawardene said. "Once you get to this stage in your career it's important that you leave at the right time, in the sense not too early and not too late. When it would be the right time, I don't know but I will make sure I keep an eye on things and see how my body feels and how I enjoy playing cricket.

"The series against Pakistan (in the UAE) I had a good outing away from home and batted really well and we managed to win a Test match. If I can make that kind of impact and contribute I may continue a bit longer."

Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka's most experienced players and team-mates for 14 years both retired from T20s after the recent World T20 in Bangladesh. Jayawardene was non-committal about his ODI future as well, but said the 2015 World Cup will be his last major limited-overs tournament.

"T20s, I knew that there was no point in me and Kumar continuing. We can't play another World T20, we are too old for that. So we made the call at the right time. If we can make those calls at the appropriate time, that will be great but I honestly don't know when that's going to be.

"Realistically the 2015 World Cup will be my last in 50-over cricket. I've spoken to the selectors about it. I've been blessed to play so many years for the country and in so many World Cups. If I am fit and performing well I'll be in the 2015 World Cup squad. There are no certainties that I will be there, it will depend on my performances."

The current England tour is Jayawardene's fifth, having first toured as a 21-year-old under Arjuna Ranatunga's captaincy in 1998 and been part of the Sri Lanka team that won a Test match on English soil for the first time.

"It will probably be the last time I am touring England but it will be like any other tour I've been on, wanting to prove myself. I haven't put any pressure on myself. I haven't really thought it like that (going off on a high note) because that would probably put more pressure on me."

Following Sri Lanka's successful season, having won the Asia Cup and the World T20, Jayawardene said the focus is on improving the team's away record and seniors like himself would have to lead the way.

"Away from home I always try to challenge myself. That's where we as a team need to improve. That is where experienced players need to pull something out of the bag. I've said that on this tour, we need to do something special and we've spoken to the boys about it. If we can really push ourselves and get something done, that will be great," he said.

"We have won ODI series in England so winning a Test series will be great. It's a two-match series so I don't know how much we can achieve from that. We have won Test matches in England but not won a series. So rather than talk about the series, we will try and see whether we can win a Test match here again, which will be great. To do that, we need to play better cricket from the start, especially the batting side of it. It's early part of the summer and we would like everyone to get used to the conditions."

Jayawardene said playing in England is unique, in that the conditions aren't necessarily uniform across the country.

"In Australia and South Africa you probably get similar conditions, but England presents you with a unique sort of challenge. The weather is one thing but at the same time you need to adapt to the different surfaces from county to county. You saw how we played in the cooler conditions in Durham and Manchester. It's tough but that's what cricket is all about."

Jayawardene and Sangakkara have different styles in terms of batting. While Jayawardene is a player by instinct and makes batting look easy, Sangakkara is an accumulator. And Jayawardene realises that they need to maintain their individual identities.

"Kumar has a more methodical way of looking at things. He is more technical in what he does and that works for him. I have played in a much different way from my school days and I haven't changed that attitude. I work hard at my game, the areas which I need to work on but I manage to keep my natural instincts going for me all the time. That's why I've achieved so many things over the years. I don't want to go away from that.

"It's always an identity that individual players should have. Whatever feels comfortable for you, you just go out and try to give the best out there. That's how I grew up and that's probably the difference. Kumar started off in a different way and he realised he needed to change his game towards international cricket. He's worked really hard at it and he's done really well."