ICL: Indian Cricket League

Sri Lanka captain backs young team


Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, believes the West Indies tour will be a great opportunity for the younger players in the squad to make a mark. Jayawardene is leading a relatively inexperienced team — only five from their 15-member party have played Tests in the West Indies.

“We’ve got some youngsters coming through the set-up now so it’s going to be a very good experience for those guys and West Indies is a very good side so we’re definitely looking forward to the challenge,” Jayawardene said after arriving here in Guyana, where the Sri Lankans will take on Guyana President Select XI in a three-day game from Monday (today).

Among the batsmen, Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have plenty of experience, with 164 Tests and more than 13,000 runs between them, but the absence of Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu means the opening pair will be short on international games: Michael Vandort and Malinda Warnapura, the specialist openers, have only played 16 Tests between them.

Jayawardene admitted that the onus would be on him and Sangakkara to lead the way with the bat. “With the changes we are getting and different people coming through the set-up, the senior players will have to take the burden and the responsibility and that is with any team.

“Both Kumar and myself are both happy to do that but we’ve got some exciting youngsters coming through but as soon as they hit their strides they will put their hand up and take a bit more responsibility and I’m looking forward to that but till they are ready it is up to us (senior batsman) to steady the ship,” he added.

Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas lead the bowling attack, but Lasith Malinga (knee injury), Farveez Maharoof (side strain) and Dilhara Fernando won’t be around. Sri Lanka have included Ishara Amerasinghe, who was impressive in the one-day series in Australia, Thilan Thushara, Nuwan Kulasekera, and Chanaka Walegedara, and Jayawardene said he was happy with the quality of the replacements.

“We have about six fast bowlers of quality that we can choose from. We have some young, exciting talent, and we still have Chaminda Vaas and Murali, so we still have quality. We have confidence in those who are here,” he explained.

Jayawardene, though, made it a point to talk about the contributions of Vaas and Murali, both of whom may not play in the West Indies again. “Those two guys have been excellent servants to Sri Lanka cricket. For the younger generation they spearheaded the attack for quite some time now and have been giving the guidance to these guys.

“Hopefully before they leave the younger guys coming through can take much more from these two senior bowlers. They have done it all over the world and are two of the best guys you can talk to about the game. Myself and Kumar have learnt a lot from these guys, it will be a good series for these guys, they will want to enjoy, want to do well in West Indies because it is probably the last time they will come here,” he added.

Sri Lanka have never won a Test in the West Indies before, having lost 0-1 in both series. Jayawardene admitted that he was looking forward to breaking that sequence. “We’re very good at home. In our conditions we dominate but away from home we’ve been winning a lot (recently).

“We beat England in England, New Zealand and we came close in Australia so we’re heading in the right direction. If we can keep competing away from home, challenging ourselves to be better cricketers every day that’s the way forward. It’s going to be a great challenge and hopefully we can win the first (Test) series in the West Indies,” he added.

Source:Cricket News

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