Moody upbeat despite Asantha de Mel~~s attack

Published: Tuesday, May 9, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody was in relaxed mood despite coming under fire from newly-appointed chief selector Asantha de Mel just days before the first Test against England here at Lord's.

"I've lodged nothing," said Moody, denying reports coming out of Sri Lanka that he'd made an official complaint.

De Mel branded the Australian "more of a strategist" than a coach and said the former international all-rounder had not done enough to help individual players with specific technical problems.

He also told AFP in Colombo on Monday that veteran batsman Sanath Jayasuriya had been forced to retire although he blamed his predecessor, Lalith Kaluperama for the former Sri Lanka captain's exit.

And former Australia international Moody, speaking at Lord's here Tuesday, said: "I've heard what you heard and that's on Ceefax (the BBC teletext service), a quote about the retirement of Sanath Jayasuriya.

"As far as we're concerned, I had a conversation with the chairman of selectors this morning and it didn't even come into the conversation."

However Moody admitted the controversy was not the most helpful way of preparing for a Test match.

"It's not ideal but it's certainly something you tend to become a bit immune to," Moody said.

"There are various challenge you face and this is just yet another one. But our guys are pretty focused," Moody insisted ahead of Thursday's opening day of the first Test of a three-match series.

"You get tested in many various ways as a coach and managing these situations is even more important.

"It's just another challenge we'll have to deal with and we will move on," Moody, formerly coach at English county Worcestershire, where he was an overseas player for several seasons, explained.

He also confirmed that champion spinner Muttiah Muralitharan had returned from attending his aunt's funeral in Sri Lanka and was preparing well.

"Murali's back, It's his first Test at Lord's, he's looking forward to it and getting out there.

"He got back Sunday afternoon. He's very comfortable. He had a long spell today (Tuesday in the Lord's nets). His preparation is meticulous. He'll make sure he does enough bowling. It's not as if he's been short of cricket these past couple of weeks."

And Moody insisted the team would be able to cope with the distinctive early English season conditions, with the Lord's pitch expected to assist seam bowling, despite losing their final warm-up match against England A by 10 wickets last week.

"We've had a couple of challenging pitches but looking at that positively it's not a bad thing to go in at the deep end and know what the conditions and this ball are going to do.

"We just want to make sure we get the right balance. It's a toss up whether we go in with seven batsmen or six batsmen. Obviously, it's no secret we'll probably play only the spinner (Muralitharan) at this time of year."

Back in Sri Lanka, De Mel said the team's form had slipped since Moody replaced fellow former Australia cricketer John Dyson last year.

"We were number two in the world rankings when John Dyson was the coach and since Tom Moody took over last year we have slipped to number six," he said.

"I think Moody is more of a strategist. (Batsman) Mahela Jayawardene at times has a problem with his foot movement and Moody hasn't been able to correct it."

But he was even more scathing about the way his fellow selectors had dealt with 36-year-old Jayasuriya, who announced during a home series against Pakistan last month he was quitting Test cricket to concentrate on One-day internationals in the run-up to next year's World Cup in the West Indies.

"The way it was done was absolutely ridiculous. Sanath has done so much for the country and the selectors should have shown some respect for such a senior player. But they just called him for a meeting and asked him to step down or face the axe."

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