Jayasuriya as busy as ever

At least one organisation values the experience of Sanath Jayasuriya. Warwickshire sign him for the county Twenty20 competition next summer. Over to Ted Corbett.

December 10: Sanath Jayasuriya is only retired four days when he walks into the TV studio broadcasting all over the sub-continent and back to Britain ready to give his thoughts of the second Test at SSC. One wise commentator wonders if this is a good move either on Sanath’s part or by the television people. “He has not got a huge English vocabulary, he has had no training for the role and he has too recently been part of the dressing room,” he thinks. So it turns out, although by the middle of the Test one of the most kindly of the crew tells me Sanath is gaining confidence. It is a problem too for former captains like Mike Atherton who, for all his university education, his ability to handle almost any task set for him and, of course, a vast knowledge of the game has bitten off a huge mouthful by signing for The Times as well as for Sky. Now, I hear, he has agreed to write for other parts of the paper as well as being its cricket correspondent. By the way this diatribe enables me to correct my statement that Fred Trueman said whoever broke his records would be “bloody tired.” Fred had picked that nutty observation up from George Hirst, left-arm swing bowler and middle order batsman at the turn of the 20th century. Hirst had taken 200 wickets and made 2,000 runs so he was right to be tired.

December 11: I am glad to hear that the local police have a sense of humour. After a confusing chase at Sinhalese Sports Club when they get reports of an Englishman running around naked they eventually make an arrest — although he is completely clothed by this time — and take him to the nearest police station. When all the formalities are over they inform him that he will not appear in court until the following morning and that they are detaining him overnight. “And as you appear to enjoy wearing no clothes, we will look after them for you and you can spend the whole night in your cell naked,” they laugh. The next morning this man is fined R200 — less than the price of his favourite national British newspaper, yes the one with his naked body on page one — and warned about his future conduct. I reckon the police guess what will happen and added their own “punishment” to make sure they won’t have to chase him again.

December 12: Apparently you can tell which restaurant Sir Ian Botham favours — it sometimes lacks the essential ingredient, er, food. He is a large man and what’s more, he likes to see that his guests have plenty to eat. So when one other member of the Sky TV crew go to Beefy’s favourite cafe in Colombo they are handed a plate with a piece of chicken and a fish on it and told that is all there is left. The Beefy party eat the rest. The night is made more amusing by a remark from a gentleman who demands to know if “Ryan Side Bottom is the son of Sir Ian Bottom.” Those with long memories will recall that in his young days Botham is known throughout the sub-continent as “Iron Bottom” which causes great hilarity among those with a less developed sense of humour.

December 13: A week ago I report that I have tooth ache and that I have to endure a debate on the merits — and demits — of Murali’s action’ Well, the offending tooth is pulled out by a surgeon who makes lots of jokes by calling it a Wisden tooth. Oh, the pain we diarists have to endure to find our material. Sometimes we have to endure surprise too. At a friend’s house this week an old timer brings up the subject of bribery and corruption. He seems to underestimate its consequences. “Oh, in my day we do all that stuff,” he says. “We play county matches over four days — Saturday, Monday, Tuesday for the main match and a one-day game on the Sunday.

So we would say to the other side ‘See you need a couple of points in the Sunday League so we’ll play a team of youngsters on the Sunday if you go a bit easy in the three-day match. All very much part of the game, ha, ha.’” Well, I accept that as a by-product of a more innocent era but to still talk about it in such a jolly hockey sticks way is more than the mind can stand. I leave you with a warning. Bribery, corruption and player-fixing — I never like the expression “match-fixing” — is still with us and it will not go away unless cricket continues to take it very seriously indeed.

December 14: A proposal to rename the Asgiriya Stadium after Muttiah Muralitharan — a lad from Kandy after all — runs into a wall of trouble from the old boys of Trinity College, the only school in the world to own a Test venue. They like the old name and they will fight Cabinet ministers and the combined forces of St. Anthony’s College, Kandy — where Murali learns his lessons 20 years ago — to keep the old Asgiriya as it is. This story still has some way to run.

December 15: At least one organisation values the experience of Sanath Jayasuriya. Warwickshire sign him for the county Twenty20 competition next summer. We may see the hand of his fellow commentator Nick Knight in there somewhere but it is Ashley Giles who says how much he looks forward to working with the man who is built to play this most dashing form of the game. Giles, retired only last summer after a long battle with injury following his key role in winning back the Ashes, hits exactly the right note when he says; “Sanath is just the man for our youngsters to learn from.” In fact, although Leicestershire have a good number of Sri Lankans in their team 40 years ago, the modern Sri Lankan rarely gets a chance — because their local cricket is often played in the British summer — and it will do no harm for the way to be open to them again.

December 16: Whenever something goes wrong with my lap top my companion is apt to remark that we will soon find a cure if we ask the nearest four-year-old. This week, at dinner with friends in Colombo, I hear of a five-year-old who can not only use the obscurer corners of his father’s desk top, searching Google, computing cricket stats and playing all the games, but has a mobile on which he texts while it is still in his pocket. Ah, to be a 21st century kid!