By Justin Chadwick
Sri Lanka Vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene admits the absence of Australian pace ace Shaun Tait from today’s (31) Twenty20 clash at the WACA has eased his team’s worries.
Tait has terrorised teams at the WACA in the past, inciting fear into New Zealand’s batting line-up in December 2007 when he collected 2-22 during a devastating spell at the speedster-friendly venue.
The 27-year-old is currently sidelined after another bout of surgery on his troublesome elbow and Jayawardene said Tait’s absence meant at least one fewer worry for Sri Lanka.
“Whenever he’s on song he’s pretty decent and he’s a match-winner,” Jayawardene said on Friday.
“Tait’s always going to be a factor but we’ve seen in his career, the last two, three years, it’s been on and off.
“He’s definitely a factor but we can’t worry about that (now that he’s not playing).”
While Tait’s absence has Sri Lanka breathing a sigh of relief, Jayawardene said Australia’s youthful line-up still possessed plenty of match-winners.
“Obviously the batting looks stronger with (David) Warner, (Shane) Watson… Cameron White has been in pretty good form the last six months,” he said.
“(But) anyone on their day can be crucial, especially Twenty20 cricket because if you make a mistake it’s very difficult to come back into the game.”
Jayawardene said fans would see a far more relaxed Muttiah Muralidaran as the record-breaking spinner tours Australia for the last time before he leaves the game after the World Cup.
“He has nothing to prove to anyone right now,” Jayawardene said of the 38-year-old.
“The last year or so we’ve seen a different Murali. (He’s) much more relaxed I reckon, especially in the dressing room.”
“Because before that there was a lot of burden on him to do well; win matches for the country. But the last two, three years with Lasith (Malinga), (Ajantha) Mendis and a few of the other boys putting their hands up, the pressure has been less on Murali.”
Jayawardene said Sri Lanka would use the three one-dayers following the Twenty20 fixture to further develop the squad ahead of next year’s World Cup on the sub-continent.
“Australia might not be the ideal condition, but still the opposition’s going to be tough,” he said.
“With a few of the younger boys here for us, we want to give them a go against a tougher opposition and see how they come up.”
“There’s a lot for us to gain in this series in trying a few different combinations and seeing what suits us.”
“I think (the squad we’ve brought over) is very close (to what we’ll use at the World Cup) and I think there’s only two or three positions up for grabs.”