Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Even today, I don’t take my place for granted: Sanath Jayasuriya | Interview

Iconic Lankan, about to complete 20 years at the top, on opening

Port Elizabeth: Sachin Tendulkar is international cricket’s senior-most pro, but his Mumbai Indians teammate Sanath Jayasuriya made his first appearance for Sri Lanka just weeks after Sachin’s. So he too isn’t far off from completing 20 years at the top.

A champion bat (6,973 runs in Tests and 13,151 in ODIs), the 39-year-old Sanath has few peers. The ‘Matara Blaster’, who has quit Tests though, spoke to The Telegraph at the Garden Court here on Sunday evening.

The following are excerpts

What goes into the making of a quality opener?

(Grins) Plenty of hard work, the willingness to undergo hours and hours of nets... Concentration... Confidence... You’ve got to back yourself against the new ball.

What goes into the making of a quality opener?

(Grins) Plenty of hard work, the willingness to undergo hours and hours of nets... Concentration... Confidence... You’ve got to back yourself against the new ball.

Technique factor

That’s there, yes... I’ve had to work hard as I wasn’t blessed with what some would say a tight technique... I didn’t see that as a handicap, though, and worked that much harder... In fact, even after almost 20 years of international cricket, I still work on my technique... Of course, the very basics have to be correct from the beginning.

On middle-order batsmen being promoted to open

That’s possible, I too started my career in the middle-order... Adjustment is the key and if one can adapt, then what’s the harm?

Whether his idol had been an opener

My hero was Viv Richards, but I’d been a big fan of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes.

Favourite openers (alphabetically)

Maravan Atapattu: Had such a good technique... I could play my normal game if he was at the other end, because his presence gave such confidence... I didn’t have to worry... Maravan knew his strengths and waited for them to be put into play. He had so much patience, which came from mental toughness of a high order.

Sunil Gavaskar: Had such class and a presence at the crease... Tight on technique and a confidence-giver to the team.

Gordon Greenidge: What an attacking opener! Could hit the ball anywhere... His mental make-up was to attack and attack...

Matthew Hayden: Great presence and an attacking approach... Wanted to dominate from the first ball and got his runs at such a fast clip. Backed himself to deliver.

Desmond Haynes: I loved his approach, he’d demolish bowlers smilingly... Had all the shots and a tighter technique than Greenidge. Also, came across as more relaxed of the two.

Virender Sehwag: Another attacking opener and in both versions... The pace at which he scores allows the team to dictate terms... To set the agenda for the match... Once set, Sehwag gets the big ones... His hundreds, in Tests, have come in a few sessions and not in two days...

The importance of footwork

Footwork is a requirement, but I feel the hand-eye co-ordination is probably more important.

Country where opening has been most challenging

Look, all countries offer some challenge or the other, but one’s biggest test is opening in England in the early part of summer... April-May... Whatever the conditions, once one adjusts, one is bound to enjoy.

Message for emerging openers

Work hard and enjoy your cricket...

What keeps him going?

(Grins) Getting into the Sri Lanka team wasn’t easy (back in 1989-90)... Even today, I don’t take my place for granted in ODIs... The love for cricket has much to do with my continuing to play ODIs and this T20 game... I retired from Tests (in 2007-08) because I thought it was time for Sri Lanka to blood somebody young.

Whether he’s looking to the 2011 World Cup

Can’t say that I’ll play till then... To do that, I’ll have to keep following a process... Staying fit, getting runs and adding value to the team. Let’s see how it goes.

Finally, getting out for 340, when it seemed he could’ve gone for 400, in the 1997-98 Test series against India at home

I was destined to get that many only... I wasn’t meant to get a 350 or reach 400... That’s how I look at it... Not getting more hasn’t been a regret.

1 comment:

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