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We handle pressure better than others - Jayawardene

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We handle pressure better than others - Jayawardene (File Photo - AFP)

SYDNEY: Mahela Jayawardene is easily the most capped one-day international cricketer playing in the 2015 World Cup and when he talks other simply listen.

He is practical whenever he voices his opinion and in this case with the quarter-final against South Africa looming up for Wednesday Jayawardene is happy the way team is shaping up for the contest.

“If you see all departments, it’s been a gradual build up for us,” said Jayawardene. “The batting has been very good. We’ve been very consistent and we’re happy about that. It’s about bringing all the departments together. The bowling has improved each game. The fielding has been a bit iffy, but I’m sure we’ll turn on when the big games come.

“The attitude, the calmness, everything looks pretty good. If we don’t do well, it’s nothing to do with the commitment the boys have. If we see the practices, the dressing room atmosphere, it’s been brilliant. Everyone has been doing their work. Everyone’s been pulling their shift, so you can’t complain about that. It’s about going out there and enjoying ourselves, and if it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough,” he said.

“We are not putting ourselves under too much of pressure. It’s all about us playing good cricket and you can’t play good cricket if you put yourself under pressure. It hampers your thinking processes and all that. We have just told the guys to enjoy themselves out there. The end result doesn’t really matter. It’s important that we play good cricket and end result, we can then talk about it afterwards.

“But if we start thinking about winning, winning, winning, it’s going to be tough for them to go out and perform. That’s how we have been playing for a long time and it’s helped. There is no other secret to it. It’s about guys handling that pressure much better than others.”

Asked if he would have preferred any other team apart from South Africa as quarter-final opponents, Jayawardene said, “I would have settled for anyone, to be honest with you. In a World Cup you can’t pick and choose who you want to play. It’s about playing the best, beating the best, and winning that trophy. If we can’t beat any team we don’t deserve to be winning that trophy. That’s the attitude we have.”

Jayawardene with 447 ODI caps under his belt is a big game player as he has proved in the past. Apart from a match-winning hundred against Afghanistan he has had a rather moderate run with the bat so far.

“I’m not too worried about it as long as I can contribute in any way, whether it is taking a few catches or a run out – whatever. As long as we can get through the quarter-finals it will be brilliant. It’s been a great journey,” said Jayawardene who along with Kumar Sangakkara will retire from ODI cricket at the end of the tournament. 

“I know I haven’t had much opportunity in the middle to bat but the guys have been batting really well, which is a good thing for us. The top order is scoring runs, but if they miss out, then obviously the onus is back on me to make sure that we control things. So that’s how it is. Big tournaments, big games and we have been playing some together. We just need to make sure we hold our nerves together and get a good game plan against a good opposition.”

Jayawardene stated that his past performances were like a bank account.

“All those good performances, you’ve deposited that as a group. As Individuals we can always reflect back and know that there are some things that you’ve achieved already and think: This is what I’ve done in those situations, mentally and physically. That’s only good enough to draw it back, but then you’ve got to go on the field and perform. The numbers and everything is brilliant, but it’s about how you perform on the day. Cricket is a brilliant game because your reputation goes out the window when you walk out to play.”

Jayawardene affirmed that the team has been performing well consistently because of players in the caliber of Kumar Sangakkara.

“He has always been consistent. Apart from probably the first three years in his career, and maybe a year in between, he has been very consistent. He is just enjoying himself. We all know that we are not going to play cricket anymore. It’s not a burden for us it is just going out and enjoying ourselves,” said Jayawardene.

“I don’t think Sanga would have played to get four hundreds in a row but the occasions came about. He batted really well in the first two games and got good knocks under his belt and then England and Australia game was fantastic. Obviously in the Scotland game he got a good start and he finished it off. It’s about attitude and the commitment the guys has. It’s great to have players like that and that’s why we as a team have been so consistent in the last 12-15 years, because we have had some quality players going through the ranks,” he said.

Jayawardene said that he had not lost the hunger for cricket but was quitting because he thought it is the right time.

“Like I said, when you don’t have that hunger, that’s when you need to stop. But I honestly did not stop because I did not have it but I am stopping because I knew the time is right for me,” said 37-year-old Jayawardene.

“The age and everything’s catching up and it’s important that I let go and the next generation takes over. But if anyone is not enjoying their cricket or doesn’t have that hunger within you, I think they should stop playing cricket immediately. What drives us to do good things out there, is by looking forward to that.”

Last modified on Monday, 16 March 2015 15:30

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