Sanath Jayasuriya keen on taking up newer roles in cricket

The 51-year-old Jayasuriya was suspended for failing to cooperate with an ACU investigation. Now that it has been lifted, the World Cup winner of '96 wants to start from where he left.

Sanath Jayasuriya during a practice session ahead of the Unacademy Road Safety World Series in Raipur on Wednesday.

The last couple of years have been challenging for Sri Lankan legend Sanath Jayasuriya. In 2019, the International Cricket Council Council (ICC) had banned the former captain from all forms of cricket for failing to cooperate with an Anti-Corruption Unit investigation.

However, the suspension was lifted by the world body in November last year. And now, Jayasuriya wants to be again associated with the game he loves. After retiring from international cricket, he was part of the Sri Lankan cricket set-up and was the chairman of the selection committee at one point, and after staying away from the game for nearly two years, he is looking forward to newer roles.

“It (the whole episode) was a bit unfortunate; not for anything else, but it was for the delay in handing my phone (to the investigating team). I did everything required and I am now cleared. I did nothing wrong. Now, I need to make sure that I am involved in the game - which I was previously. I would love to be with the cricketers and earn back my lost reputation,” Jayasuriya, who is currently in Raipur to play for Sri Lanka Legends in Unacademy Road Safety World Series, told Sportstar.
 

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“In future, in whatever way I can contribute - internationally or nationally for Sri Lanka - I will be there,” the 51-year-old said.

Having played an instrumental role in guiding Sri Lanka to its only World Cup title win in 1996, Jayasuriya admits that it is disappointing to see the Sri Lankan cricket team struggling. The host team suffered a 0-2 loss in the Test series against England in January, which led to severe criticism.

Sanath Jayasuriya in action against India in the Cricket World Cup in 1996. | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO/ V.V. KRISHNAN

 

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“It is disappointing when you are losing in Sri Lanka. We know our conditions, we usually do well on a few grounds - especially in Galle - so losing both games was disappointing. Our players are capable, they need to have a proper mindset and not think about other things. There will be criticisms when you are not playing well, but you have to accept it,” Jayasuriya said.

“Now, news travels fast - there is social media where you are praised, and also criticised. So, as players, you need to absorb all these things and filter out the negatives. You need to to focus. Unfortunately, the Sri Lanka cricketers are going through bad times and I hope the technical committee that has been appointed does the right thing to bring back the game in its old form.”

Sri Lanka cricket enjoyed tremendous success between 1996 and 1999 and also between 2004 and 2011. But with a bunch of legendary cricketers - including Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene - retiring, the transition seems to have taken a bit too long.

“We need one of the players from the new generation to come in and fit into those shoes. We have the talent and we need to look after them and give them the confidence. They should know how to handle the pressure and play their natural game," the former captain said.

Not just in international cricket, the Sri Lankan cricketers seem to have lost the plot in franchise cricket as well. This time, no Sri Lankan cricketers were picked for the Indian Premier League - a first in the history of the tournament.

“That’s definitely a disappointment. The world has seen that our cricket has been a bit down, so the team owners must be worried. So, it is up to the players now. If they need to be (in the IPL), they need to perform. They need to understand why they are not there in IPL or any other leagues? If they are not selected that means cricket has gone down and the world is not wanting the Sri Lankan players in the leagues anymore. They should make it happen. The players will have to do it,” Jayasuriya stated.

The poor show against England prompted the island nation to appoint a technical committee - headed by Aravinda de Silva - to look after the cricketing affairs.  With Muttiah Muralitharan and Sangakkara part of the panel, Jayasuriya is confident that the committee will find a way out. “That way it is good - something positive has happened. They will look after all the cricketing matters, they will negotiate with the coaching staff and the management. That committee is very important. Everyone wants cricket to be at a high level in Sri Lanka and I think this committee will take us where we were earlier,” Jayasuriya said.