Tillakaratne Dilshan, who retired from ODIs on Sunday, blamed teammates Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene for giving him a tough time as captain in 2011. Dilshan also pointed to Angelo Mathews' miraculous recovery in a week after claiming he was unfit under Dilshan's captaincy.
Tillakaratne Dilshan brought the curtains down on an illustrious limited overs career when he retired from ODI cricket on Sunday after the third ODI against Australia. Asked to talk about his challenges when he was the captain of the Sri Lankan side in 2011, the floodgates opened up as Dilshan let out long-pent grouses about his teammates and their lack of support for him in his difficult phase as the captain.
Dilshan had taken over the tough post at a time when Sri Lankan cricket was in turmoil after its greatest player of all time, Muttiah Muralitharan had just retired. Both Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene had resigned from the post and Dilshan was asked to lead the team.
Speaking about it Dilshan said, "I didn't actually plan to take the captaincy, but the SLC president asked me to take over for six months until we find someone else.
"Unfortunately, we had also lost two bowlers. Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan] had retired. Nuwan Kulasekara was injured. Ajantha Mendis was injured. I didn't have great resources.”
The opener took his opening shots at current skipper Angel Mathews when he said, "Angelo Mathews had a calf injury for a year that stopped him from bowling. That must be because of my misfortune, because after I had stepped down, we went to Australia after a week. In that week, Mathews started bowling. That must be because of Mahela's good fortune."
Dilshan also referred to the incident when he was refused by both the former captains in the midst of their England tour of 2011, his first big trial as a captain. He had scored 193 in the first innings of the second Test but broke his finger. With him missing the next game, he was initially rebuffed by both captains although Sanga eventually reluctantly agreed to captain the side, he revealed.
When I was hit in the fingers and was unable to play the two former captains refused to captain the side. One of them agreed only after a lot of convincing.
Dilshan, however, said that he did not let these hurts come in the way of his contribution to the team's cause as he went on to score well soon after being ousted as captain.
The batsman said, “At the end of that South Africa series, I put everything aside. I went to Australia, scored 500 runs, and became Man of the Series. It didn’t matter to me who was the captain. I wasn’t concerned about who ousted me as captain. I always play for my country. I didn’t worry about those personal things, but I was hurt.”
Dilshan also insisted that his retirement decision was taken keeping in mind the team's interests with the World Cup coming up in 3 years.
"To be honest I could easily play for another year or two. But we have to look to the future. If I play for another two years and leave, there's only 18 months before the next World Cup and that's unfair to the team. A young player could be blooded in that time. Since I started opening six years ago, we haven't found a permanent partner for me. I've opened with about 10 people - so that's a problematic area for us. If I keep playing we won't be able to get two batsmen settled in that place. I'll be able to get some rest," he concluded.
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