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World Cup 2019: Mahela Jayawardene Declines Sri Lanka Cricket’s Appeal

The 2019 edition of the World Cup starts on May 30th at the Kennington Oval and Sri Lanka head into their first match against New Zealand with a bleak record, having managed only one win (against Scotland) from their last 10 matches, losing eight and one game being abandoned. It hasn't helped that the squad has been mired with uncertainties - Dinesh Chandimal was axed from the World Cup-bound squad and there were a host of surprises when the 15-man squad was announced.

The hopes now rely firmly on the leadership of newly appointed captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, will put the off-field shenanigans behind and put in a solid show in the mega event. The 1996 champions are anything but a unit prepared for such a challenge. Amidst all that, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) approached former captain Mahela Jayawardene to take up a role with the team for the tournament. Mahela recently coached the Mumbai Indians team in the IPL and they lifted the record 4th title.

The reason for Mahela’s reluctant to take up any role with Sri Lankan cricket is disillusionment with the general position of the game in the emerald island. The board’s offer was in accordance with their efforts to get the former cricketers to take up positions in the management of the SLC and overhaul the state of the game in the country. Sri Lankan cricket has been in a constant state of decline, despite the recent Test series win in South Africa.

“I was (invited) but I have several other commitments. More than that, I didn’t understand the role I am expected to play. There’s no point in me getting involved tactically, or whatever if I don’t have a say in the whole structure. The team is selected and everything is done and dusted. There is no room for me to come in and add something,” quoted Mahela Jayawardene.

We need those experienced players in our system

Jayawardene did mention that he is willing to contribute in his little way with the management of the team. He stated that they do not want to lose their players. The former cricketer revealed that it is very important to have some experienced professionals part of the system.

“I am still happy to contribute in my little way with the management of the team, but nothing to do with the SLC. We created a professional cricketing structure spending eight months and offered to set it up for them but they rejected it. We did it because we don’t want to lose our cricketers going to Australia and to league cricket in England. We need those experienced players in our system,” Jayawardene concluded.