Sri Lanka has suffered a jolt before a ball has been bowled with Mahela Jayawardene considering walking away from the captaincy at the conclusion of the Australian series.
The 2011 World Cup finalists touched down last night and will today begin preparations for a three-day tour match against the Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI, starting Thursday at Canberra’s Manuka Oval.
Jayawardene will lead Sri Lanka in the first Test against Australia in Hobart on Friday week, but the veteran of 135 Tests concedes the three-Test series could represent his swansong at the helm of his national team.
The 35-year-old agreed to steer the side through a difficult transition period for Sri Lankan cricket, but admits he is likely to pass the leadership baton at the end of the Australian summer.
“I took on the responsibility to lead the team for one year and that will end after the Australian tour,” Jayawardene told Sri Lankan media on the eve of his side’s arrival Down Under.
“I am going to take it one series at a time, especially after the Australian tour I will have time to think.
“I want to make that transition as smooth as possible.
“I don’t want to let go all the good things that’s been done all these years and just walk away from that. I will sit down and talk to a few people that I talk to usually when it comes to taking a decision and have a chat with the selectors as well especially with the captaincy position, then it will be much easier for me to make a call on what I want to do in my career.
“(After the tour) I can sit back and think what I want to achieve not just for myself but for the team as well.
“I have always said that I am not a guy who will just hang around for the sake of playing. If the youngsters take on the responsibility and do the job for Sri Lanka, then I will be very happy to step aside and give them that opportunity but at the same time I don’t want the team in a situation where it will have a harmful effect.”
Jayawardene, who has blasted 10,640 Test runs with 31 centuries at 50.18, believes the time may be right to groom 25-year-old Angelo Mathews as his successor.
“In a way, personally, I feel that it would be better for him to be captain while there are some senior hands around in the team to help him rather than him taking over when there is no one,” he said.
“As a deputy he has contributed on the field and off the field and that is something that the public and others don’t see. He is very mature.
“The other important thing is he’s earned the respect of all the players, the younger and older players.
“You never know whether he can handle the situation unless you give him that opportunity. There were a few issues when I took over the captaincy and to a certain extent I’ve been able to settle them.
“The team is more focused on what they want to achieve now. It is a much settled set-up. It could be the right time to give Angelo the captaincy.” (Herald Sun)