Sri Lanka aim to rise above money worries
New Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene is adamant his unpaid squad can put their money woes and off-field dramas behind them to turn around what’s been a bleak patch of Test and one-day results.
Since finishing runner-up to India at last year’s World Cup, Sri Lanka’s form has slumped, falling to series losses to England, Australia, Pakistan and most recently South Africa.
The latest loss prompted the sacking of Australian coach Geoff Marsh just three months into a two-year contract – two days after skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan quit, allowing Jayawardene to reclaim the captaincy mantle.
Sri Lanka now enter their match against the Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra on Friday with a new captain, a new coach and renewed hopes that an almost year-long pay dispute with the nation’s governing sporting body might finally be resolved.
Jayawardene hopes the match also signals a new start for his troubled squad.
“Within a space of one week a lot of things happened in Sri Lankan cricket, so we’re just trying to settle things down,” he said on Thursday.
“But I’ve always believed that we should control things that we can control, which is out there on the field.
“We just need to find the right combination going forward and we just need to enjoy our cricket – that’s the most important thing.”
It’s been reported Sri Lankan players are still owed almost $5 million in match fees by the financially-stricken Sri Lanka Cricket, some dating as far back at the 2011 World Cup.
But a new board has been appointed, raising players’ hopes that a resolution is not too far off.
Jayawardene, the third captain since last April of a team that has also welcomed four coaches in that time, couldn’t rule out the potential for striking if the crisis stretched out further.
But he said the first priority for him and his team-mates was to play cricket.
He also rejected a suggestion the pay dispute might lure his players to seek more lucrative earnings in the IPL.
“We’ve waited this long, we’re not going to go that far hopefully,” Jayawardene said.
Jayawardene, who was previously captain of the national side in 2009, said Sri Lanka will be on the hunt for consistency as it gears up for the tri-series against Australia and India.
“We’ve played some really good cricket in the last six months, but we haven’t been able to put games together and win tournaments and win series.
“We chased 300 twice in South Africa and won the last two games which shows the character of the team.
“We just need to start focusing on the little things, the basics, executing game plans, the rule changes.
“We want to be in the winners’ circle.”© AAP 2013