I took up the captaincy for one year - Jayawardene
Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's new captain, has said his second term will be for a year at most and that his priority is to rebuild the team following a string of defeats in Tests and ODIs after the 2011 World Cup.
The tri-series in Australia, involving the hosts and India, will be Jayawardene's first assignment after taking over the leadership from Tillakaratne Dilshan.
"I took up the captaincy once again, for one year. Our target is to win matches, to regain our place as one of the top four Test-playing nations," Jayawardene said in Colombo. "We have failed as a team in the past but we have to look past that and move forward. We face India and Australia next month. We need to take the positives from South Africa and focus on winning matches again."
Jayawardene was ODI captain from 2004 till 2009 (he took over as Test captain in 2006). He resigned in 2009, saying he wanted his successor to have sufficient time to build the team for the 2011 World Cup. Kumar Sangakkara took over from Jayawardene but stepped down after leading Sri Lanka to the final of the World Cup. Dilshan led Sri Lanka for nine months after the tournament, but resigned following series defeats in both Tests and ODIs in all his four assignments.
"This is a juncture where the Sri Lanka cricket team needs someone's help," Jayawardene said. "I told the selectors that I will at the most remain the captain for a year, and we came to an agreement. To remain as the skipper I will have to contribute to the team. If I'm not doing a perfect role as a player, then I should not hold the captaincy.
"I will turn 35 this year and I don't have any intention to even remain in the team if I'm not making my contributions as a player. It's a short-term decision. We will work on grooming the team and a future captain as well."
Dilshan backed Jayawardene's appointment and said his tenure should be for more than a year. "Twelve months is not enough to groom a young Sri Lanka cricket team and a new captain. My opinion is that Mahela should be there for at least two years and we as players are willing to offer our support to him."
Sri Lanka's next series will not only be under a new captain but also a new coach, Graham Ford, who replaced Geoff Marsh. Both Jayawardene and Dilshan did not comment on Marsh's departure as Sri Lanka coach. Marsh had been appointed in Sepetmber 2011 but his tenure ended after defeats in the UAE and South Africa.
"That is not my area. That is up to the selectors," Jayawardene said when asked about Marsh. "My focus is to work with what I have got. Graham is experienced, and we need his services to rebuild, harness new players and win games."
Dilshan said: "There was criticism after we lost games about my leadership, so I resigned. The coach [Marsh], I don't know, that is a decision of the selectors."