Returning to a heroes’ welcome 18 years in the making, former captain Mahela Jayawardene called out Sri Lanka Cricket officials yesterday, expressing his disappointment on how they handled the controversy surrounding his and Kumar Sangakkara’s T20 international retirements, saying that they had acted irresponsibly in speaking to the media without first clarifying the news with them.
Once news of the retirements of both modern greats broke, SLC officials had told the media that the players had not informed them of their retirements, as was the protocol, and opted to share the news with the media first.
Jayawardene clarified the sequence that led to the sensational news – implying that it was sensationalised – adding that they were barred from clarifying the matter while in Bangladesh by the team’s manager, in the best interest of the team.
“At the time we departed for the tournament, we had not yet made a final decision, so at the time we could not tell the media if we were retiring or not,” Jayawardene said.
“However, when we went to Bangladesh we were asked if this was our final World Cup and, since I am 36 and felt like I couldn’t play another T20 world cup, I answered that it was indeed my final world cup. I only answered a question I was asked,” Jayawardene said.
“It was unfortunate that Sri Lanka Cricket, the Executive Committee and the secretary, instead of clarifying with us those comments, chose to criticise us in the media. A person of such responsibility would have first asked us whether we had made any such statements.”
He said that the matter was put to bed after discussions with Chief Selector Sanath Jayasuriya.
“Sanath [Jayasuriya] spoke to us afterwards, because he had also been told that we had made such an announcement to the media, but we had not told anyone anything like this.”
He added, “We have intimated to the media before, that this was going to be our last T20 world cup,” a sentiment shared by Sangakkara, who said he had said the same prior to his departure to Bangladesh.
Jayawardene said that he had brought with him an official letter of retirement from T20 international cricket, but reiterated his disappointment that before a tournament of that magnitude that they were put in such a negative frame of mind.
“I agree with everything Mahela said. Previously, when asked by a local paper, I stated that it was my last World Cup,” Sangakkara said.
“We had to only clarify the matter with one person, who was the Chief Selector Sanath Jayasuriya, and we were able to discuss it with him, which was when were able to clearly understand what happened with this entire episode. Unfortunately it has become our responsibility,” Sangakkara added.
Asked about the duo’s future in the game, Sangakkara said that they were taking it a step at a time, saying “Mahela and I will take it as it comes, with an eye to be able to be in form and fit to play in the Cricket World Cup next year and anything beyond will be a bonus for us.”
In a true heroes’ welcome, eclipsing with many moons the farcical open-bus parade that the players were given after winning the Asia Cup tournament last month just before the World T20, people lined up the streets from the Katunayake Airport up to the Galle Face green, eager for a glimpse of the championship-winning team.
Sunday’s WorldT20 finals win over India by six wickets, was Sri Lanka’s first world cup win since 1996, as Sri Lanka lost four finals in 2007, 2009. 2011 and 2012, in both T20I and ODI formats.
The parade was preceded by a press conference involving Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Lasith Malinga and Dinesh Chandimal.
Chandimal, the designated captain from the World Cup, who opted out of the final two games, to allow Sri Lanka to play Lahiru Thirimanne, speaking at the briefing, said he was genuinely happy that Sri Lanka won the World Cup, even at his expense and that winning a world cup was more important than him playing in the team.
“As a member of the team, I was very happy that we won the World Cup because we had struggled to win finals of previous World Cups.”
“After the suspension I received for the slow over rate [in the match against England] – and I was replaced by Lahiru Thirimanne – I decided, that since I was not in form, I needed to do what was necessary for the team to win and take the World Cup back home.”
“So, I, and everyone else, decided that instead of me playing, that Lahiru Thirimanne, who played well in the Asia Cup and was in form, would play the remaining games of the tournament, because inning the world title was more important,” he said.
Malinga, who finds himself with the distinct label of ‘World Cup winning captain’ against his name, fortuitously, was forthcoming in his praise towards his team-mates and their near-perfect game on Sunday.
He said, “I must say I am not a cricketer who believes a lot in luck. We won this because of the efforts of the players and the coaching staff.”
“I was only focussed on our players, be it bowlers or batsmen, and getting the best out of them in the forty overs of the game. It is because of this concerted effort that we were able to hold India, with their strong batting line-up to a score of 130.” (Source: sports.dailymirror.lk)