Lalit Modi’s ambitious plan of hosting two Indian Premier League (IPL) tournaments in a season from 2011 has finally found support from unexpected quarters. Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan skipper, feels that IPL has caught every cricket lover’s imagination and no one would mind two events in a year.
“I think IPL is good. It will develop in the next two years. T20 cricket is certainly a crowd-puller. The IPL will certainly initiate city-based rivalries, the kind that happens in English football”, said Jayawardene, the brand ambassador for Reebok in Sri Lanka.
Shrugging aside fears that T20 boom will affect Test cricket, Jayawardene echoed John Buchanan’s views. “T20 will improve the skill level of a cricketer. The bowlers will find newer ways of getting wickets while the batsmen will find newer ways of scoring runs. That will also benefit the cricket-viewing public in general,” he told the Hindustan Times.
The IPL has been a such a hit in Sri Lanka that the viewers gave their domestic Twenty20 tournament a miss. Jayawardene also reckons that IPL is a suitable platform to attract female audience to the game.
‘We have the talent’
Away from the IPL, Jayawardene thinks the future is bright for Sri Lankan cricket despite veterans like Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan being in the twilight of their careers. “We have to move on and we have the cricketers to replace them. After Arjuna and Aravinda retired, everyone feared the worst, but we believed in the talent we had and you are seeing the results today,” he said. “We took a young side to the Caribbean and performed well. We won our first-ever Test there. We have young and talented guys like Maharoof, Kapugedara and Ajantha Mendis,” Jayawardene said.
Among the Indians he’s seen at the IPL, Jayawardene marked Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir for special praise. Jayawardene feels that India’s upcoming tour of Sri Lanka will be special. “I made my debut against India and they are a fantastic team with some naturally-gifted players. I hope it will be an exciting series between the two teams,” he added.