I got a few of your questions answered by King Kumar.

Here they are.

1)Over the last year, SL have tried out 4 different combinations as test openers. How close or far are we to finding a pair to match Sanath and Marvan?

I think the real question is who out of the players will step up to take long term responsibility?

The openers have all been good but at the end of the day they have to make themselves permanent. Malintha has been the most consistent out of them and Paranawithana has the opportunity of becoming an exciting prospect so the opportunities will be presented and hopefully taken.

2)Do you think that your sledging of Shaun Pollock was a factor in him losing the captaincy, tell us a bit more about the incident?
Jrod, Renowned Australian cricket blogging genius of cricketwithballs.com fame.

I dont think my sledging had anything to do with it rather the first round exit from the world cup due to their appalling miscalculation. It was the final scene in a long drawn out verbal and cricketing battle between the south africans and us starting form the test series in 2002 where we thought enough was enough and stood upto their bullying tactics. since we have played them with a lot more confidence and success.

3)Records show that certain grounds, particularly in the sub continent generate favorable results to those sides that win the toss, day/night games in particular. The recent ODI series in SL being a recent example which had a 5-0 record to the side winning the toss. Do you think if the captains have the flexibility of of selecting their team after the toss is carried out, it will help in making the significance of the toss a lot smaller? Rat, friend and fan of the flyslip.

Selecting sides can be one option or playing day or night games is the other. Depending on television rights this problem will have to be addressed

4)If you had to pick someone to bowl to save your life, between Murali and Warne, who would it be? Sachintha, flyslip groupie.

I would like to have both but definitely Murali

interview sangakkara

Here it is.

King Sanga.

The Flyslip.

The sit down. Uh – huh.

Ps- Dont worry, all your questions have been answered too. They are coming shortly.

1)With regards to the Pakistan attacks, in particular about the much talked about security arrangement. Was the security detail any different on that 3rd day? As compared to the rest of the tour ? Had anyone raised any concerns about the security provided prior to the attacks (during the tour I mean) ?

The security detail was much less in Lahore than Karachi. We were thinking and talking among ourselves about the fact that the security provided us was not “head of state” but didnt voice it to Pakistan officials. Lahore had riots a day before we arrived there and lax security in our travel convoy was a surprise. On the 3rd day the security detail was even less than other days as the Pakistan team bus was delayed and security was split between us and them

2)There seems to be many stories coming out regarding, last minute changes to the bus route(to the stadium) and the Pakistani team leaving after the SL team, when they(two buses) usually leave together.

In hindsight, do you or any of the other players now feel that something was off on that particular day?

We had no idea of last minute changes to travel routine. We just knew that we were travelling ahead of the Pakistan bus. We got to know later of the mysterious phone call to change route. In hindsight there was something off during the whole tour with regard to security and the levels promised and actually delivered

3)At what point did you first make contact with your wife after the attack? Could you run us through what she was feeling and what was said?

I contacted my wife first after about 5 minutes of entering the stadium dressing room after the attack. I spoke to her and told her that we were shot at but not to worry that we were ok. She then asked me how i was and i said i was fine and wasnt injured. She then asked me to keep in touch every few minutes and hung up. I then phoned my mother and told her the story and also told her that i was injured but not badly and not to tell Yehali. By that time news was carrying reports of my injury so my wife called and asked me if i was actually ok. Then i told her of my injury. She got upset but managed to stay calm as Samaraweera’s wife had rushed to our home seeking more info

4)The fall out of the attack has been swift, already players are worried about the IPL and touring the Subcontinent. Are you worried at all about going to India now ? What would you want now, as a player, to feel safe about going to India or any other ‘dangerous’ country?

Security will now become a priority. It has been so for many teams like England, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and India in the past years and they have had professional procedures in place to ensure security. Sri Lanka has been lagging well behind in proper security assesments for the cricket team touring away from home and we will now have to rethink. We will need independent and expert security assessments done and reports provided bfore accepting tours. The same for any tour including IPL. Players will also take more decisions individually along with their families rather than as a team with regard to security

5)Do you fear for the future of cricket in the Subcontinent (In India, Pakistan, SL and BD) (especially if there was to be another terror attack in any one of these countries, even if it not cricket related)?

The future of cricket or any sport is threatened everywhere in the world if security measures are not put in place. Terror attacks in any country which seems more and more the norm would endanger sport

6)Getting back to cricket, now that you have been appointed captain of SL, The question on everyones mind is, what would Kumar Sangakkara do differently as Captain (if given the job)? Do you have any specific goals or agenda for the team?

My difference in leading the side would be that I would bring my perspective to bear on team strategy and planning a lot more. I have seen eye to eye with past captains on many issues, especially with Mahela, but I have to now find what works best for me and the team. I’m a great believer in individual player development. Players if asked to work more on their own and think more for themselves, the burden of captaining evry aspect of the team disappears. Captaincy is mainly while fielding and making right choices then and at all other times getting the best out of your players. Captain is always only as good as his troops and must ensure that players in the team are given every facility to become supremely competent in their chosen skill and performances and improvement are demanded from them everyday

7)Cricket is all about partnerships and your one with Mahela, as captain and vice captain was a very close one. What made you both get along so well? Would Mahela always seek your approval?

Our partnership worked well as a result of the fact we never tread on each others toes. Our roles were clearly defined. My role was to support him fully in matters of field setting, driving players, player discussions and, if needed, in selection and strategy. I always think the captain should ask for support from his deputy and not approval. And also, when it is needed, a captain should welcome feedback and information but ultimately make instant decisions by jhimself. We also knew each other closely for years and it helped a lot.

8)How do you, as a cricketer, address allegations that cricketers now care more about money or playing in the IPL than playing for the country ?

This a load of nonsense. The reality of sport seems to escape most Sri Lankan pundits when it comes to cricket. Just look around the world and wake up. Sport is commercial and it has to be a business otherwise the very sport cannot be sustained. Sport is also professional. If we are to earn our living through it it obviously follows that we will be paid…how much depends on market forces. Look at all other sportsmen in the world: Sri Lankan pundits overlook their commercial power in terms of advertising and earnings, but seem to criticize same locally. W.G. Grace was the first cricketer to advertise a product. We have cricketres being best in the world being paid one tenth what cricketers of far less quality are paid in other similar countries. Although the money earned by our board is huge, and on par with other boards, still we play and we perform. We try to do an honest days work and earn an honest living. Our careers are not long and we dont have pensions. What we earn now, unless we have a fall back plan, will have to last us through the rest of our lives. That is the reality. Your career could be over in a flash through being dropped or injured or any number of things. I play cricket to play great. My motivation is to be among the best when I retire. I want to score 10,000 runs in both formats and have 30 test hundreds. Money can’t buy that. At the end of the day you earn benefits because you perform. If you don’t you may earn benefits for a while but will be dropped or ommitted. If you focus only on money you will naturally lose performance and will be weeded out. I know my team and they play with passion and pride. I cannot say the same about others, past players included, who sit in their high chairs and lecture.

9)What are your views on the new refferal system? Any suggestions for improvement?

The referral system is a good addition to the game but needs a lot of fine tuning. Who makes the decision is it the 3rd umpire or does he feed information to the on field umpire to make his own. Is the technology a 100% correct? What technology should be used. Is the process of the captain signaling done properly and fast enough? Or do you leave it to the umpires to ask for a referral if they think it necessary. These in my view are the issues and should be addressed quickly and thoroughly.

10)If you had the power to change 3 things about world cricket right now, what would they be ?

-Day night cricket would stop and it would all day or all night,

-A lot more direct player input in to the policy of the ICC, and

-The recognition of all players associations by cricket boards of every country.

interview sangakkara

So following on from Lalit Modis ‘ingenius’ move to shift the INDIAN premier league to South Africa I am left baffled at the match schedule, in particularly the match timings.

Modi knows the importance of getting the eyeball figure to shoot up and you cant get a better audience than a billion cricket mad Indians.

So his solution is to have the matches at times that are suitable for the Indian audience. All the round robin matches are set for 4 and 8pm India standard time. Now people can watch them and do some sports betting

Which in South Africa is to 12.30pm and 4.30pm. Now I wonder how many South Africans will be able to attend these matches at these odd times.

What is even more impressive is that CSA have agreed to this. Most South Africans, I will assume are hard working people with day jobs. So they will find it extremely difficult to make it to these matches day in day out.

And it will be day in day out as the massive schedule of almost 60 matches will be packed over roughly a month and a bit.

A key feature in the original IPL was that almost all matches drew huge attendance figures, largely through cheap tickets that were given away and the matches being at favorable times in the late evening just after work.

You have to wonder the logic behind the timings in SA though. How many people outside the’ huge Indian population’ would care to turn up? And even if they were interested would they be curious  enough to take a day off work or leave office early to catch the games? Specially in times of economic strife and volatile job security.

If the idea was to generate interest in SA, then surely the ultimate goal would be to get people to the grounds.Unfortunately, cricketing goals and Modis goals usually don’t see eye to eye, his is to ensure his piggy bank doesn’t sound too hollow when he taps on it every night.

Modi, it seems, is not only happy to alienate the unfortunate Indian fans but also the South Africans who have bent over backwards so many times that they must in serious need of a visit to the chiropractor.

ipl lalit modi

A lot of people are ready to brandish Mahelas numbers to prove he was the best ever skipper for SL.We don’t doubt Mahela was a good captain. He was, for a period, probably the best in the market.

Mahelas test record reads

15 wins in 26 games. On the surface that’s very good. But 7 of those wins are over the kittens.

Out of the 15 , 8 wins have come at home, so 7 wins away seems good. But again, 4 of those are in Bangladesh.

So the record that matters reads 8 wins out of 19 with 3 away wins and 5 home wins.

That’s a winning percentage of 42. As compared to the 57 people see on the surface.

In the shortened form of the game Mahela captained 97 matches, winning 57. This amounts to a winning percentage of 58.

But if you reason this out to only include the other 8 test nations (excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe), the figure drops to 29 wins. Which more or less equates to the same amount of wins against the lesser teams.

So on the basis of these numbers Mahelas’ captaincy seems inflated by results against weaker opposition.

This brings us very basic problem of judging how good a captain is. Winning percentages are important. It proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the man with a ‘C’ next to his name in the team sheet is doing something right (or wrong).

But relying on stats alone is unfair on a man who in the end is responsible for everything that happens on the field.

If Arjuna Ranatunga was the messiah who changed the Sri Lankan culture then Mahela was the one who perfected it. At least for a part of his career.

Together with Tom Moody he formed one of the best partnerships of captain and coach. Much like Arjunas one with Dav Whatmore. The Aussie-Lankan combo seems to be a hit. Who says we don’t get along?

The team Mahela led to the 2007 WC final was probably the most well drilled, aggressive bunch of Sri Lankans ever to take a cricket field. Every player knew where they belonged and had the freedom to express themselves in their positions as long as they got the job done.

Another weird coincidence  was the almost non existent board politics. To me one of the key factors in Mahelas success as a leader was the air of calmness that prevailed at HQ.

Every captain has his defining moments. Arjuna had the WC win and his protection of Murali. Graeme Smith has his win over Australia. Mahela will be remembered for his role in getting to the WC final and his last test ending with him being shot at.

Under Mahela, Sri Lanka rediscovered Chamara Silva and unearthed Splendid Mendis. He groomed the team into understanding the benifits of being aggressive and showing ‘character’. And barring maybe the last 6 months of his career he managed what most players struggle with, excelling in his own game with the pressure of having to lead.

And although he now leaves Sri Lanka in a precarious position, he always knew he would be leaving it in the able hands of Kumar Sangakkara.

So, if someone asks me how good Mahela was, I could tell them his percentages.

Instead I’d tell them about how he dropped Marvan during the WC and how it was the right thing to do at the time no matter what anyone says, how he took a stagnating team from a bunch of aging has-beens to a fine tuned unit who enjoyed their cricket and the direction it was going in.And about how he kept picking Mubarak and Dilhara which annoyed me and half the country.

How in the end he probably wasn’t the same captain he started out as and had the courage to quit before he was asked to.

And the story about how he became the answer to an ageless trivia question at the bar.

“Who was the player who was shot at in his last test as Captain?”

mahela jayawardane

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