Sri Lanka Cricket has taken a dim view of Mahela Jayawardene’s resumption of a consulting role with England for 10 days of the forthcoming World T20. SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala labeled Jayawardene’s temporary job “sad and disappointing”, even while his board rejected the clustered provincial first-class tournament Jayawardene had played a leading role in devising last year.
Jayawardene had previously worked with England for two Tests, during their tour to the UAE in 2015. Former Sri Lanka coaches Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace – both of whom are now in the England set-up – had been instrumental in bringing Jayawardene into the fold, and the England players had been complimentary of the expertise Jayawardene offered.
But with Sri Lanka now scheduled to play England in the group stage of the World T20, Sumathipala has taken issue with the potential sharing of inside information.
“I had a lot of respect and gratitude for Mahela’s knowledge, but now he’s advisor to a competing team of ours,” Sumathipala said. “I’m very disappointed that a national captain, within a few months of retirement, has been retained by another team at a World Cup.
“You could go to a club, a province, an IPL kind of team, or a county. But this is a World Cup. You can’t have a player who has just left your country’s team joining a competitive nation. All the contracted players who are playing, once they retire from the game, should have at least 24 months before joining another team for giving advice or coaching.”
Jayawardene played his last ODI for Sri Lanka in March last year, but had quit T20s in April 2014. His forthcoming role with England will end on March 25 at the latest, with Sri Lanka scheduled to play England on March 26.
“You need that minimum cooling-off period, because you were recently in the team,” Sumathipala said. “You know the team’s strengths and its weaknesses because you’re inside the team. You know your team planning ahead of the World Cup. I think I’ve been very sad and disappointed by this.”
Sumathipala said SLC would now look at introducing a no-compete clause in Sri Lanka’s player contracts, in order to avoid the transfer of sensitive information. He also suggested Jayawardene had been unprincipled in taking up the role.
“I don’t think this is just a matter of contract. You captained Sri Lanka, you played for your country, and after a few months you go and represent another country and advise against your own nation? I’m talking here about ethics of cricket.”
Jayawardene has had contrasting relationships with various SLC boards. He had engaged in public skirmishes with the board featuring Nishantha Ranatunga, which operated until March 2015. His ideas were then embraced by the Sidath Wettimuny-led interim committee, whom he had advised on domestic cricket, in an unpaid capacity. He now appears to be at odds again with Sumathipala’s administration, which has scrapped Jayawardene’s plan to cluster clubs to help administer provincial sides, labeling that structure “impractical”.
Jayawardene was not offered a formal role with Sri Lanka, but had advised the team informally, particularly ahead of India’s tour of Sri Lanka in August last year. (ESPN Cricinfo)