Batting vs Selecting Players: Sanath quizzed on Power Plays

Courtesy of The Nation, 18 May 2013, where thte title is “Power hitting depends on how hard you practise”

SANATH J -- NationYou can’t miss the irony if you have followed the drama surrounding the Sri Lankan cricketers playing in the Indian T20 league. On one hand, you had the politicians asking Sri Lankan cricketers to stay away from Tamil Nadu and on the other you have the Sri Lankan government rolling out the red for Indian tourists. What’s more the gentleman Sri Lankan tourism authorities have roped in to sell their country as a hot tourist destination is Sanath Jayasuriya, the man who like the Spinach-munching Popeye had left Indian bowlers black and blue in his playing days. Jayasuriya has smoothly fitted into the role of a Member of Parliament, his country’s brand ambassador and more importantly the chairman of the selection committee, apart from still turning out in professional T20 leagues. Still early into the job as a selector, the 43-year-old is already exhibiting qualities of a seasoned statesman. For starters, he’s making an earnest effort to bring cricketers from the war-affected north-east into main stream cricket.Jayasuriya spoke to TOI on the sidelines of ‘Get Sri Lankan’ed’, an event organised to attract more Indian tourists to his country.

Q: There are talks that cricket is something which can provide a healing touch to those in the war-affected northern part of your country?
That is the way it should be. As a chairman of selectors I have to close the gap. We have to build the bridge. There are quite a few young players coming up. Angelo Perera is really good potential coming up. People from northern area (Jaffna) need to come to our areas to play. I want them to come and enjoy the facilities. Sri Lanka Cricket is doing its bit by appointing coaches at different levels and we are monitoring the talent there closely. Recently I was in Jaffna to watch few games and players. We have picked three players from that area. They will be featuring in a domestic triangular tournament. We have drafted them in the squad to give them a feel of international cricket so that they can learn quickly. It sends a good positive message to people of those areas so that we have more talent coming through from there.

Q: Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara are perhaps in the last stage of their career. As it has been the case with Sri Lankan cricket would you like to see them groom cricketers before they call it a day?
Yes of course. It is like the Arjuna and Aravinda situation. Everyone thought that that Sri Lankan cricket will struggle after them. We did go through a tough time. It is not easy to replace cricketers who have got 10,000 runs to their names. It’s a slow process. Luckily for us we still have Dinesh Chandimal and Thirimanne. There are players coming in. We have always tried to build a team around established players to get the momentum.

Q: What is the secret to power hitting?
It is about hand and eye coordination and how well you see the ball. It also depends on how hard you practise. Talent is not enough. You need to put in hours and hours of practice with some of the shots. Thanks to technology people get to know weaknesses.Q: You keep hearing how essential technique is but then we have guys like you, Sehwag and Gayle who have triple hundreds against your name…Technique is important to defend the ball. You need to have good defence. That’s all. Other than that it’s all about seeing the ball and hitting it in your areas of strength. That will only come after hours and hours of practice.

Q: Now that you are a selector…what’s easy, putting the bowlers to sword or picking a team?
Both jobs are really tough. While picking teams you need to work with five or four people. You need to get their ideas. Playing was my own thing and that was not very hard. To tell you the truth the group of selectors I’ve got with me are really good. I’ve played with them. They are very understanding



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