As highlighted a few days ago, theflyslip scored an interview with our beloved Captain. We put a few questions to him and got some interesting answers. This is what he had to say.
And if you remember, I asked the handful of readers here to drop in their questions as well. I picked 5 and sent it to him. Mahela was kind enough to answer them for you guys.
So if you notice a distinct pro-Mahela campaign taking place at theflyslip.
Dont worry it wont last long.
1. Playing a 100 tests for your country is a great achievement, a feat not even Arjuna Ranatunga or Aravinda de Silva had managed, did you feel nervous at all when you went out to bat or feel a sense of occasion?
Yes, before the game it was a special feeling as the guys wished me after the pre-match team meeting. I am very proud to have played so many Tests for my country and very grateful for having the opportunity to do so. Once the game started, though, you switch into game mode and focus just on the match.
2. What would you consider as the highlight of your test career and the lowest moment in your test career.
My high point was definitely my Test match debut against India back in 1997. Nothing has surpassed that. It was a great day. The lowest times were possibly the loss to England at SSC back in 2001, a series we should have never lost, and also the Pakistan defeat in Kandy in April 2006 when Mohamed Asif bowled us out cheaply.
3. The impact of T20 and the IPL on test cricket and playing for the national team has been undeniable, do you think it has come to a point where a player has to consciously decide between money and playing for the country? Have you had to decide between the two ?
To be honest, I don’t agree with the question that the impact of the IPL on Test cricket has been “undeniable”. I know the IPL and T20 cricket has its detractors, but if properly managed there is no threat to Test cricket. This year, for example, we are playing a full IPL and will play 11 Tests. Ideally, we should be playing 10 to 12 Tests a year. If you are referring to the England tour issue, all I can say is don’t believe all that you read in some newspapers. That whole issue was handled very badly and I hope future players won’t be put in that situation again. In the future, by 2012, I think there will not be any issues as all boards are pretty much in agreement that for the IPL there should be a window in the international schedule in April/May. England is the main affected country and they will probably adjust dates to allow English players to play 4 out of 6 weeks of the IPL before the English summer starts.
4. There is a general sense amongst fans that your captaincy has taken on a more negative approach since the last WC and the departure of Tom Moody,do you agree with that assessment?
I have not become more negative. Our one-day cricket since the 2007 World Cup has been inconsistent and when you are losing any captain will seem more negative. But I still believe fundamentally in the importance of being aggressive and the importance of taking the initiative. That is the Sri Lanka style and that is how I play my cricket. Also, bear in mind that just because we don’t have four slips means we are being negative. With our style of bowlers and the different conditions we have come across, especially slow pitches, we often use unorthodox positions as attacking positions like short covers or mid-wickets and leg gullies. We also employ in-out fields with bowlers like Murali and Ajantha and that is a tactic that has worked really well for us. It might look odd having a guy on the boundary and then two or three close fielders but it helps put batsmen under pressure and that is the key to taking wickets.
5. How different are Moody and Bayliss as coaches and as individuals ?
Difficult to compare. Both have been good for Sri Lanka cricket and both have brought different things to the team. I guess Trevor is a little more laid-back and relaxed, while Tom was a bit more in-your-face.
6. You’ re often quoted saying that you prefer to have a single 2020 tournament, instead of say the IPL, EPL and other possible leagues that might pop up in the future, do you think that’s feasible given the context of where 2020 is heading now?
I think there should be one big domestic tournament but it’s probably not realistic now. Having said that, I think you can have only one “big” domestic T20 tournament slotted into the world schedule and that needs to be the IPL. I don’t think we can create windows for them all and the likes of the EPL and Australia Premier League will have less of an international flavour.
7. Who do you think will be your successor as Sri Lankan captain ? Do you see any potential candidates in the current team, apart form Sangakkara ?
Well the obvious first choice is Sanga. After that, we need to have a think over the coming couple of years and start grooming whoever has that leadership potential.
8. On your personal batting, you seem to have had a technical issue outside off stump throughout your career, why is that ?
Haha…I think 99.9% of the batsmen in the world have a problem outside off-stump.
9. How do you rate Ricky Ponting as a captain ? Who do you rate as the top 3 captains in world cricket at the moment ?
Ricky is a good leader and an aggressive captain. He has been helped though in being aggressive by having the team he has had over the years. I guess the frontrunners right now in terms of best captains are Ponting, Dhoni and Smith. But bear in mind that it is difficult to rate captains because so much depends on what team they have.
10. You have scored 24 test centuries but only 10 ODI centuries, why is that ?
Unless you bat in the top three, it is quite difficult to score hundreds in one-day cricket unless you are quite a selfish player. The nature of the limited overs game requires you to take risks for the team and that sometimes means you lose your wicket. In that regard, Sri Lanka is lucky to be one country where the players are committed to the team and are willing to make sacrifices. Look at the likes of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Russel Arnold. If you look at their ODI stats they have quite low averages. But what they have been willing to do over the years is bat in the very difficult positions of No 6 and No 7 and work to our gameplan. Personally, I would have liked to have scored more, of course, and I hope to score one or two soon.
11. Do the Sri Lankan batsmen find it hard to play Ajantha ‘Splendid’ Mendis in the nets?
Yes, or course, he’s always picking up wickets in the nets. Sanga and I are fortunate in that we are wicket-keeper and slip so we get to see him all the time and can read him pretty well, but he remains a handful and a very fine bowler.
12. Quite often we see Politicians getting involved with team selections and Sri Lankan cricket, Do you think thats healthy for our cricket?
13. Have you ever read theflyslip.net cricket blog ? Often quoted as the best cricket blog from SL ?
I have heard of it but have not been to the site yet. I have to admit that apart from Hotmail, and more recently Facebook, my laptop does not get much use.
14. Do you think the current crop of Australian players have what it takes to match those of the great 90s teams? And do you think Australia will continue to slide down the rankings ?
I don’t think they’ll slide.Yes, they have lost some top players like McGrath and Warne but there is quality there. They just need to develop again just like any team. I also think that the rest of the world has caught-up and the gap in quality has narrowed.
15. Hobart in 2006 may have been the closest Sri Lankan came to beating Australia in Australia, do you think SL will one day be able to achieve that win in Australia ?
We’ll definitely win one and I am sure we are close to that day. We do need to play more in Australia though.
16. Do you think 50 over cricket should be toned down, now that 2020 cricket is more prominent? Which do you like playing more?
I think we have to find the right balance. I would like 12 Tests per year, slightly few ODI’s, perhaps around 25, then T20’s and IPL-style events. I don’t think there should be too much bilateral T20 cricket. The T20 World Cup is fun and great fun but think the format is better suited to events and tournaments rather than series.
17. In your intro when you come to the wicket in a 2020 game broadcast, you mention your favorite shot as the ‘forward defensive’, a bit ironic for a 2020 game dont you think ?
A bad attempt at humour!
18. Did you find it difficult to work with Arjuna when he was the head of the SLC ?
I would not say difficult as we are used to focusing on cricket rather than administration, but we had our differences on some issues.
19. Finally on a lighter note, are you aware of your excessive use of the word ‘character’ in post match interviews ?
No – but now I am! However, it is a good word for cricket.