Former Sri Lanka great, Aravinda de Silva has revealed that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is in touch with former captain and legendary batsman Mahela Jayawardene for a potential coaching role with the Under-19 team of the country. India has benefited immensely by employing Rahul Dravid in a similar position for their Under-19 team and De Silva feels that someone of the stature of Jayawardene can offer a lot to the Sri Lankan colts.
De Silva stated that SLC has been trying to convince the star batsman to take up the role with the Under-19 team and gave the example of the kind of work Dravid has done at the grassroots and with the young players in India.
“Well, I think when he was appointed as the U-19 coach, I thought India did a good job. Sri Lanka has been trying to convince Mahela Jayawardene to take the U-19 job for a long time but I was not so successful in doing so," quoted De Silva.
Dravid has been credited for building a strong nucleus of reserve players for India with his tremendous work with the Under 19 and India-A teams as well at the NCA in Bengaluru and De Silva wants Jayawardene to play a similar role for Sri Lanka.
“I think that is where the foundation is and if you lay the foundation right at the U-19 level, it becomes so much easier to really progress from thereon. That’s where I feel you would be able to instill knowledge. That is where you can truly express yourself, once you have the foundation with someone like Rahul, you all know he is a very disciplined individual."
De Silva further added that it is important to have a national hero as the coach as the players can look up to him and get motivated and inspired.
“The most important for the U-19 guys is to have their hero as the coach. It is not only the cricket part but there is a lot more than cricket in an individual," he added.
De Silva also expressed regret at reports which indicated that ace all-rounder Angelo Mathews was contemplating retirement due to his disagreement with SLC over a number of issues. He has already opted out of the series against India.
“It is a pity if Angelo Mathews has decided to quit at this stage. I see him as someone who has contributed a lot to Sri Lanka Cricket. I would not want to see any senior member leave the team in this manner," stated de Silva.
“It is time for the players to keep these issues aside and look at the future. There are a lot of things he could offer to Sri Lanka and he should have shown the kind of spirit, character and he should have handled the situation in a manly manner."
De Silva had a different take on the second-string Indian side which is set to play the limited overs’ series against Sri Lanka stating that any team from the neighbouring country made for a formidable opposition.
“I personally think any side who would come and make a change and play exciting cricket and India as you know, they have enormous talent. There is no way you can call any side a second string. If you look at the current way of handling players, there is a rotational basis all over the world, and players being in the bubble has become very challenging, it is not easy," added De Silva.
Sri Lanka are going through a tough phase in international cricket - they suffered a 3-0 defeat in T20Is and a 2-0 loss in the ODI series in England.
Meanwhile, former India limited overs’ specialist Ajay Jadeja said that the quality of cricket in the upcoming India-Sri Lanka series may not be top-notch but that will not take away from the excitement and competitiveness.
“I personally think you will see more intensity. A couple of players are looking to get back on the Indian side, so there is a lot at stake from that front. Sometimes you do not see the intensity in the verbal action going on, from players’ point of view, it is as important for any player who is picked. For each player on this tour, I have no doubts, the intensity would be as good as you have seen in the past. I am not sure about the quality, but intensity would be there," added Jadeja.
Jadeja added that the inclusion of Varun Chakravarthy was a bit of a surprise for him.
“I am sure, when selectors pick somebody, they look for them to perform well. But when you talk about the six spinners that have been picked, one was a surprise for me and that is Varun Chakravarthy."
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