The Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) has Australian Tom Moody excited. Why? The Uthura Rudras coach has got the opportunity to work professionally with friend Muttiah Muralithran once again.
And, for the former Sri Lanka national coach (2005-07), nothing could be better than having the spin legend in the team, inspiring youngsters.
"He's a dear friend. And it feels wonderful to be able to work with him again (after the stint as national coach)," says the tall Australian by the calm poolside at the hotel. "It's a great experience for the youngsters to have a chance to play with Murali, learn from him."
So, does the man, who has 800 Test wickets under his belt, still have the passion and drive for the game after calling it quits last year. "We had an optional practice session on Monday. Murali was the first one on the bus. He said 'I need about 30 minutes of bowling'.
"He went on to practice for well over three-quarters of an hour. Most others in his position would have taken a backseat. Murali leaves no stone unturned in his preparations," Moody explained, citing an example of his friend's dedication.
Without the 40-year-old's service, the Sri Lankan national team has certainly felt a major loss. But Moody believes the island nation is coming to terms with it. "Sri Lankan cricket is undergoing a transition. What they felt was similar to the loss England went through when (Ian) Botham retired. Or (Shane) Warne's in Australia. Today, the conditions are different. There aren't the big turning wickets anymore. For example, the wicket in Kandy is similar to New Zealand or England conditions. It's a better contest now," Moody claimed.
With old warhorse Mahela Jayawardene still carrying on, the former top-order batsman feels it's good for the young generation. "While India is trying to fit youngsters in the side, this country has the youngsters. With guidance, their growth at the international level will be quicker," the 46-year-old said.
IPL 50 times bigger
When comparing the SLPL with the very successful Indian Premier League model, the coach of the Kings XI Punjab squad believes that one market is "50 times bigger than the other", but both countries find common ground in the game.
"It's the same formula here - mixing cultures, mixing local talent with international stars… The formula has worked and both sides enjoy the interaction," he says before hurriedly leaving for Uthura Rudras' match against the Lasith Maling-led Ruhuna Royals.
The writer's trip has been sponsored by Uthura Rudras