Jeewan Mendis Interviewed

Dilanka Manakkara, Daily News, 8 Oct. 2010

The Carey College schoolboy who won a scholarship to S. Thomas. College and then entered the ranks of the budding U 19 cricketers, Jeewan Mendis, has had a chequered career. Seen as future Sri Lankan player, just like Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal recently, his stock was particularly high because he met the demanding technical standards espoused by Owen Mottau when the latter was one of Sri Lanka’s coaches. He was a fringe player in at least one touring XVI (to Pakistan if my memory serves me right). Despite his locationat the SSC his domestic achievements as a batsman did not live up to expectations and he fell behind in the calculations of the selectors. He persevered however and after moving to the Tamil Union added leg-spin bowling to his armoury. This enhancement of his armoury has coincided with the crystallisation of his batting skills in consistent scores at both domestic and A Team levels. He is now in the Selectors’ sights. Michael Roberts

Manakkara’s Introductory Note: The squad for the all important Australian tour was announced and to the delight of the country’s cricket lovers the consistent all rounder Jeevan Mendis was included in the 16 man squad. Jeevan who has been performing brilliantly for the ‘A’ team with his innovative stroke play, teasing leg breaks and athletic fielding, has developed in to an useful all rounder who could bat at any position. Jeevan was rewarded for his superb feats as he had the rare distinction of winning the ‘Player of the tournament’ award in the Premier League as well as the Limited Overs tournament at the prestigious CEAT Cricket awards.

Q – You won the ‘Player of the tournament’ award in the Premier League as well as the Limited overs tournament. Can you elaborate on your performances?

A – I performed pretty well with both bat and ball in both tournaments. In the Premier League, I scored 543 runs in 11 matches with a best of 153. I also took 31 wickets.

I was at my best in the Limited Overs tournament where I was the fourth highest run getter with 345 runs and I also took 23 wickets to become the second highest wicket taker of the tournament. I am very satisfied with my performances.

Q – Jeevan, you have been recalled for the Australian tour which would be starting soon. Your thoughts about it?

A – I feel very happy and the selectors have rewarded me for my consistent performances with the ‘A’ team. I performed exceedingly well in the recently concluded Sri Lanka ‘A’ tour of Australia and that may also have prompted the selectors decision to include me in the squad. It’s a very important tour not only for me but for the whole team as we would have to give our best and fight hard against the Aussies to win the series.

Q – You were part of the squad which toured Zimbabwe for the Micro Max Tri Series and you performed well with both bat and ball, but you were dropped from the squad for the Asia Cup. How did you feel about it?

A – Well to be honest I felt a little disappointed about it initially, but a lot of seniors were rested for the Zimbabwe tour and thats why we got the chance to play, so I think that was the reason why the selectors dropped me from the Asia Cup squad.

There was another important ‘A’ tour in Australia around the corner so since I was part of the ‘A’ team, I was determined to perform well.

I managed to perform very well in the last few ‘A’ team matches and I steered my team towards victory in quite a number of occasions.

Q – Can you talk about some of the match winning knocks you played recently?

A – In the Premier League Limited overs final against Chilaw Marians, I scored 94 runs coming at number six when we were struggling on 73 for 4. I managed to build some valuable partnerships with Gihan De Silva, Pushpakumara and Sachithra Serasinghe and we scored 234 runs in 50 overs and ultimately won the match.

Another match winning that I recall is during the first ODI between Sri Lanka A and Australia A when we were chasing a small target of 197, and were 3 down for 32. I came at number 4 and made a recovery with captain Chamara Kapugedera in a stand of 63, and added an unbeaten 96 with Kosala Kulasekara who supported me in a match-winning partnership.

Q – You would have to bat in the lower middle order for Sri Lanka and your role in the team would be an all rounder. Are you ready to take up this challenge?

A – I am a versatile player so I can bat at any given position and I most probably would bat at number 5 or 6 in the National team. I have do the finishing job most often at this position and bat according to the situation which includes defending my wicket and keep up one end as well as attack. I have developed the late cut and I play the reverse sweep to great effect. I have been making a lot of runs playing the reverse sweep and the paddle sweep.

I also have developed my bowling to a great extent and I have improved a lot as a bowler.

Q – What are the variations you posses as a leg spinner and how successful have you been as a bowler?

A – I have a different grip than other leg spinners and batsman find it hard to pick it. I use the googly as a surprise weapon and I have taken a lot of wickets in the recent past. I took a five wicket haul against Pakistan A at Suriyaweva recently.

Q – Is there anyone you wish to thank?

A – yes. I am grateful for Spin Coach Piyal Wijethunga, who helped me with my bowling and also Heshan de Mel who advised me on my batting technique. Kalu aiyah also helped me a lot with my shot selection and also I would like to thank Anusha Samaranayake for his valuable tips he gave me on bowling.

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