Jayawardene: England still the best
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene still rates England as the number one side in the world, despite their recent struggles in the sub-continent.
Andrew Strauss' side ascended to the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings courtesy of a 4-0 home win over India last summer but are in danger of slipping from top spot following a 3-0 series defeat against Pakistan and a 75-run loss in Galle last week.
The second Test of the rubber gets under way in Colombo tomorrow and, while many see an England side shorn of confidence and struggling against spin bowling, Jayawardene is not underestimating the tourists.
“England have played some really good cricket the last two years,” he said.
“They beat Australia in Australia, they played well in South Africa and they have been really good in English conditions. That is reflected in their results.
“There are five or six teams in the world playing really good cricket now, so on any given day they can beat each other, but England have set the standards.
“It has been difficult for them in the sub-continent, so for us it’s about challenging them here just as it is about challenging ourselves in English conditions.”
Tomorrow’s match sees Sri Lanka and England take to the field at the P.Sara Stadium for the first time since the home team’s inaugural Test match in 1982.
That match was the culmination of decades of cricketing progress in the country and Jayawardene is pleased to be returning to the site of one of Sri Lanka’s proudest moments.
“It is going to be somewhat emotional,” he said. “We do have a rich history and everyone who plays tomorrow will be part of it.
“It’s not just the last 30 years of Sri Lankan cricket, it is 50, 60, 70 years ago and what our cricketers did for us to get Test status in 1982. We are very humble and very proud to be a part of it.”
Sri Lanka have made two changes to their winning side from the first match of the series, with seamer Dhammika Prasad replacing the crocked Chanaka Welegedara and vice-captain Angelo Mathews back from injury to take over from Dinesh Chandimal in the middle order.