Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli has found yet another admirer in his growing list. And, this one is a legend himself, none other than former Sri Lankan skipper and a legend himself, Sanath Jayasuriya. The current Sri Lankan chairman of selectors, Sanath was in Mumbai on Wednesday to launch the book ‘Tall Order’ by entrepreneur Kapil Pathare. At the event, he made some interesting observations on Indian cricket as well as the current state of Lankan cricket, which is going through a transitional phase following the exit of most of their big names.
Speaking about Kohli, Jayasuriya said, "Virat is a dedicated player. He practises and trains hard before every match. He is always concentrating on his game and that is what you need. He is a very professional cricketer. You have a big chance of performing well when you do all the hard work before the match. Jayasuriya also put in a good word for Ravichandran Ashwin, who is continuing his great run at home, against England. “As an off-spinner, Ashwin has improved a lot and as a batsman too he is doing well which is good for India. He is bowling well and always wants to come up with new strategies which is working well for him,” the Lankan great observed.
When probed about the manner in which Sri Lankan cricket is moving forward in the absence of their retired geniuses, Jayasuriya admits these are challenging times for his home nation, but added he is ready to take some tough calls as chairman of selectors. “Sri Lankan cricket is going through a transition phase at the moment. When Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakarra and Tillakaratne Dilshan retired from international cricket, we found it difficult to replace those players, because they'd been playing for 15-16 years.”
When I played, I took some risks. Sometimes, as a chief selector, I have to take some calculated risks too. I took a risk by appointing Rangana Herath as the captain for the tri-series in Zimbabwe, as both Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal were injured," Jayasuriya went on to add at the book launch. The former left-arm swashbuckling batsman then went on to say that he is trying his best to manage the workload of Sri Lanka's number one bowler at present, left-arm spinner Rangana Herath (38).
“I have a big task to manage him. Whenever I can, I give him a rest, because getting another left arm spinner isn't easy for us. I'm looking to manage him for at least another two years. It's difficult, but I'm doing it. When Murali retired, people thought we didn't have the spinners to take 20 wickets, but I'm happy to say that Rangana is there to do this for us,” Jayasuriya concluded.
Sanath Jayasuiya played 110 Test for Sri Lanka, scoring 6793 runs, averaging 40.07 with 14 hundreds. He also claimed 98 wickets. Jayasuriya had greater success in ODIs, with 13340 runs in 445 matches, at a strike rate of 91.20, in an era before current power play restrictions. He hit 28 ODIs tons to go with his 323 wickets.
--By A Cricket Correspondent