Atapattu: Tests are the key to success

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Sri Lanka interim coach Marvan Atapattu is pleased with the way his players have come together under his leadership, saying the mood in the camp is a positive one, especially after sweeping the England tour.

Sri Lanka interim coach Marvan Atapattu is pleased with the way his players have come together under his leadership, saying the mood in the camp is a positive one, especially after sweeping the England tour.

Sri Lanka won all three series in the UK, most interestingly the Test series where they were expected to either lose or draw, and Atapattu was delighted that their form from the Asia Cup and World T20 stuck with them.

Atapattu told <i>The Nation</i>: "The fighting spirit, the belief and togetherness we had in the dressing room is what made this team different to previous sides.

"It was coming from the time we played the two T20Is against Bangladesh in Bangladesh where we had the result in the last ball of the match. The belief that was inculcated amongst us in the dressing room was huge and we believed that any one of us could finish a game taking it down to the wire.

"That belief was there and it kept on improving in the T20 World Cup when we had to win against New Zealand and Rangana (Herath) came and bowled so well to pull us out.

"The dressing room is one happy place where everyone was honest with their opinions and was allowed to talk freely. Everybody's information was valued."

The Test series win, in dramatic fashion at Headingley with a single ball to spare, was a great delight for Atapattu, as Tests are where the team still struggles to assert their talent. He said winning Tests was crucial to the overall success of the side.

The coach said: "Winning Test matches is the thing for me. I believe if we can play good Test cricket, falling into playing well, which we are doing already, playing the other two formats becomes easier.

"Adjusting is easier, you have so much confidence in you, you have performed well in the longer game which shows your character, patience, confidence and everything that has to comes out for you to be a successful Test cricketer.

"If you can hold your skills, temperament and concentration for a long period of time I can't see why you can't in a short period of time do well in a 120-ball game or a 300-ball game.

"Winning Test matches is so important for us to grow as a team as individuals and going forward as a cricket-playing nation."

The next challenge is to face South Africa in Sri Lanka in early July, and while the coach knows this could be his final series, he is not being complacent and hopes the confidence carries over and they adjust their game quickly.

He added: "It's confidence but on the other hand we should be mature enough to understand that it is a totally different ball game playing in Sri Lanka in our types of wickets. We have to start all over again from scratch and build ourselves into a winning position.

"The England win is gone. It's only confidence and the belief that we get from winning the series. It's a fresh start for us when you are playing at home. As a player you are a bit more under pressure playing at home. Public expectations are high and that is something you've got to live with when you are in the public eye.

"Winning in England has brought on more pressure but it's a good feeling. When you are playing Test match cricket you've got time and over 450 overs to show what you are made of than something like T20 cricket where more luck is involved."

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