Mendis adapts due to English experience
Sri Lankan top order batsman Kusal Mendis has credited his experience playing in the Middlesex leagues with Southgate for his ability to adapt to the conditions in England.
Mendis has scored three half centuries in five innings in England, two more than any of his teammates have managed. The 21-year-old spent four months with Southgate shortly after finishing school. Sri Lanka’s batting has come under fire for looking out of their depth at Headingley in the first Test but Mendis was the one bright spot, with a fighting 53 in Sri Lanka’s second innings.
Speaking of his time in England Mendis commented: "I learned a lot about how to adjust to conditions and how to deal with that initial disappointment of not knowing them very well, and also about how to play when it's cold. I got to do that alone, and got a lot of useful experience from that."
Mendis, who captained Sri Lanka’s under -19 team in 2014, is being tasked with filling the void left by the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara at least in terms of his position in the batting line up. As Sri Lanka rebuild from the loss of Sangakkara and Mahela Jaywardene, youngsters like Mendis will be asked to step up.
When asked how he has had to adjust his game to playing at the highest level, Mendis remarked: "No one tried to change my technique much," before adding, "They just asked me to play as I was. Mentally there were a few changes. The advice was mainly about mentally adjusting. They told me about being patient at this level, because it's five-day cricket.”
Sri Lanka’s new number three has found the opposition at test level far steeper, saying: “You get far fewer loose balls at this level. If there are four men in the attack, all of them are very good, and it's a challenge to score runs.”
Mendis' effort at Headingley will encourage the young man but he will need to show that he can continue to adapt to grow into a fully fledged Test cricketer.
Of his innings, Mendis noted: "Everyone said it was a good innings. They also gave me some advice on the weaknesses – especially about foot movement. We're very disappointed as a side at how the match turned out, but we're hopeful the next game will be much better."
Mendis is likely to feature as Sri Lanka look to bounce back from their crushing defeat at Headingley when they take on England in the second test at Chester-le-Street.
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