Mahela Jayawardene has brushed off criticism from SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala, contending that his ten-day consulting role with England is largely geared toward player development and not toward providing specific tactical information. He has also said Sumathipala’s questioning of his ethics was “laughable”.
“My role with England is to help develop their cricketers, and to help with how they should approach different challenges – like playing spin,” Jayawardene said. “The pools hadn’t been decided when I agreed to do it. England didn’t hire me to give information on the Sri Lankan team. They have analysts and coaches to do that. I’m quite disappointed to see those comments from the board, to be fair.”
This is in response to Sumathipala himself having expressed “sadness and disappointment” at Jayawardene’s resumption of the England job, in which he could conceivably reveal inside information on the Sri Lanka team. Jayawardene played his last ODI for Sri Lanka in March 2015, and had quit T20Is in April 2014. Sumathipala said a “cooling off period” of at least 24 months was appropriate, before Sri Lanka players joined opposition sides in a coaching or advisory role.
Jayawardene didn’t rule out being asked to provide specific information on Sri Lanka’s players and tactics, but said his ability to provide such insights was tempered by his having retired almost a year ago.
“By the World T20, I would have been out of the one-day team for 12 months, and out of the T20 team almost two years,” Jayawardene said. “If the tactics of that dressing room haven’t moved on in that time – if they are still playing the same way – then there’s a problem, isn’t it?
“There are also a lot of new players in this Sri Lanka team that I haven’t played with. But even for the guys like Angelo Mathews, or Lasith Malinga, or Dinesh Chandimal, isn’t the challenge to keep evolving?”
Sumathipala had suggested Jayawardene, as a former Sri Lanka captain, was being unprincipled in his acceptance of the England role. Jayawardene responded by asking whether Sri Lanka’s recent hiring of Graham Ford was similarly unprincipled, according to the board.
“Ford has worked at Surrey with Jason Roy – the England opener – for the last three years. I guess that would be unethical as well. In my heart I’ve had Sri Lankan cricket right at the top, but I’m also a professional.”
Jayawardene said he had worked almost a year on the domestic cricket revamp that has now been scrapped by the Sumathipala administration. That work was unpaid.
“All that 12 months of work was put aside when they took over,” Jayawardene said. “I am not upset, but I’m disappointed. If they don’t recognise my work, then how am I supposed to work in that environment? Was their decision to scrap that made ethically?
“That said, they are an elected body, and they are entitled to do what they think is best. There are actually no hard feelings. I wish them all the best, and hope that they can take Sri Lankan cricket further.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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