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June 10, 2019

Jon Lewis - Batting Coach

Bristol, Gloucestershire, UK

Q. Last time with the washout, what's the mood in the camp like with the squad at the moment?
JON LEWIS: The mood's pretty good. Obviously, you're right, to be here five or six days ago and not get a chance to play was frustrating, but we're still off the back of the win against Afghanistan. So we needed that, because we were possibly a little bit low before that.

So you know in effect we're still off the back of last win. The last game we played as a win. No, we are in pretty good shape. Slight disappointment maybe yesterday when Nuwan got injured, Nuwan Pradeep. I don't think he's in contention for tomorrow, which is a shame and disappointing for him. But as a group, yeah, I think we're this good shape.

Q. Can I just ask, what's it been like for you working with Sri Lankan players? What's been the biggest difference you've noticed from, say, coaching English players, or is there one?
JON LEWIS: I think cricketers are cricketers to be honest. There are cultural difference, no doubt about it, between Sri Lanka and England, probably in all countries.

It's been a huge honour for starters, have to acknowledge that, and the players have been fantastic, very welcoming, very easy for me to work with, despite the fact that there are occasional language difficulties. But the rest of the staff helped me out and some of the senior players helped me out when there is difficulty. Most of the guys speak pretty good English, which is fortunate for me because my Sinhalese is not so strong.

Q. You've been very good quite some time with the Sri Lanka team. What is it that the team is lacking in the batting department that they cannot put some good scores? Because the last match, you see they got a good start and then it collapsed. What are the reasons you give for this kind of thing?
JON LEWIS: I think the last game, as you say, a good start. Part of that good start I think was probably caused by -- we played some good cricket but Afghanistan probably weren't at their best at the start with the new ball. As they improved, we probably didn't recognize the fact that they had improved, and we expected them to carry on the same level. So when we opened the door, which we did, they pushed on through. It was our fault. We opened the door. We gave them the opportunity to push on through, and once they were on a high, they were very good. They put a lot of pressure on us. I think coming into the World Cup, we wouldn't have anticipated that -- I think we thought if we got start, if we got through the new ball period we would be in decent shape with some good experienced players in the middle with Mendis and Mathews in the middle, especially, but they obviously haven't quite fired yet. But you know, against Afghanistan we got away with that. I'm confident the players of that quality will definitely come to the party soon. So you know, if we can -- good to get a win when we weren't at our best, but yeah, we do need more from some of the batters.

Q. How do you rate the Bangladesh team against tomorrow match?
JON LEWIS: They are a very good side, there's no doubt about it. They have had a tough start to the World Cup in terms of the fixtures, some difficult ones, but they have obviously put in some good performances even in games they haven't won, they have put in good performance which have suggested they are going to be a tough opposition for everybody, so we know that. But our focus will be on us and us being positive on ourselves, and we'll believe even though we know it is a strong opposition, and an opposition that probably has the right to be confident because of the way they have played so far, we'll still be backing ourselves very strongly.

Q. Obviously you're looking to win tomorrow's match, but recent past Bangladesh's record against Sri Lanka was good. How much is it easy or tough for your team?
JON LEWIS: It will be tough and as you say Bangladesh have had a couple of decent results against Sri Lanka, but you know, this is a World Cup. The situation is very different. I think already, you've seen that maybe World Cup cricket isn't the same as bilateral one-day tournaments. Yeah, no doubt at all that there's a hell of a challenge ahead of us, but we also do have a lot of confidence in the players that we have in our dressing room and a lot of faith in them. So we are still confident.

Q. Any injury concern?
JON LEWIS: Nuwan Pradeep. Nuwan who was excellent in the last game against Afghanistan and was pretty good throughout the buildup to the World Cup. Unfortunately he damaged a finger yesterday. Nothing hopefully too serious. Just maybe tomorrow's game that he'll be unavailable for.

Q. Who do you think could be the X-factors for this match tomorrow?
JON LEWIS: I think in our dressing room, we've got a few X-factors. I think Thisara's power with the bat is obviously something which can come to the fore. Lasith Malinga has been world-class for years. So I think we can always be optimistic that he's going to bring in a performance which can just turn a game. Angelo, as we spoke before, Angelo Mathews has been a top player for a long time. You can't expect him to go on not producing big runs soon. It's going to come for a player of his quality. We are confident that's going to come.

Q. Mendis and Mathews, having had the very slow start to the tournament that they had, how do you as a batting coach approach that situation, trying to lift them out of those -- of their modest scores?
JON LEWIS: Yeah, slightly different with both. Slightly different sort of ages and different situations in their career. I think with Angelo, you've got to have faith in the guy who has done as much as he has over such a long period of time, and he tells me that he's in a good place. He's in a good head space and he's comfortable with his game. You know, at this stage I've got no reason to doubt that the runs will come for him. Thisara could do with a little bit of a confidence boost. For him it's just a case of getting through those first 20 balls, because in the buildup to the game, to the World Cup, in Scotland he played very well. The two warmup games against he can he can excellent bowling attacks, he was in good form, only got 20s and 30s, which was a bit of a downer. It would have been a good opportunity to get a big score. But there was nothing about his form in those two games that suggested that there's anything to worry about. He's had two low scores, and yeah, it will be good if he had some more runs behind him, but he's probably only 20 balls away from being really away.

Q. Is there maybe a bit of a concern just looking at how the team's run has gone, the last two with New Zealand, then a fairly narrow win over Afghanistan and a washout here and tomorrow is not looking good. Let's say there is a washout and one more point. Perhaps fall behind the cliché 8-ball when you all of a sudden face Australia, a team like Australia at Lords in a few days?
JON LEWIS: The Oval.

Q. Oval, sorry.
JON LEWIS: You're not being very optimistic. You're looking at the --

Q. I was here at that match, nothing happened. Tomorrow, the forecast is almost as bad. So in a worst-case scenario, let's say it does happen, there's no match, boom, all of a sudden you're playing Australia. Perhaps --
JON LEWIS: Yeah, that would be a tough game. That would be a tough game if that happens. We're still pretty confident we're going to play some cricket tomorrow. Let's just try and think on the positive side of this one. So we're confident we'll play some cricket; and if things are terrible and we end up not playing any cricket, we'll go to The Oval, knowing that the various times in this competition, this is England, other teams could have bad luck with weather. We wouldn't dwell on it. It would be a shame. It would be disappointing for the people of Bristol if they have two Sri Lanka games and not get a game. But no, we will prepare for the game. We'll be happy to be playing it, even if it is a shortened game. We'll deal with what happens after that, after that.

Q. Obviously every team comes here thinking that they are going to be a title contender. How much of that belief is there in this team, do you think, within the Sri Lanka squad?
JON LEWIS: I think I said before, there are sides here who are probably tipped to be semifinalists, England, India, those types of sides. It would be quite a surprise if those two sides didn't make the semis. But I think as you said, everyone comes here, thinking well with a good run, we can get to the top four, and once you're in knockout cricket, everyone will back themselves to be successful. I think we're probably in that group. Possibly not necessarily tipped to be one of the semifinalists; but knowing that if we get a bit of luck with the weather, if it comes at the right time for us, not the wrong time, and we play our best cricket possibly when other sides don't quite find their best cricket, then we can turn over anybody. You know, the ambition is to get to the semifinals. Beyond that, I think everyone will sit down at that point. The last four teams will sit down and say, okay, we're right in this.

Q. First of all, I hope nobody asked about this. Is Thirimanne okay?

Q. Yes. He had a little knee niggle yesterday.
JON LEWIS: Thiri is good. The only -- as I mentioned earlier, the only player I think who is unavailable is Nuwan, Nuwan Pradeep.

Q. And how is the team camp thinking about bringing someone like Avishka Fernando for a shortened game, instead of Thirimanne, if it's a shortened game?
JON LEWIS: Avishka could be a candidate for a long game or a short game. I think he's been talked about. I take your point there with the shortened game; you might play the extra batter. So it might be as well as, rather than instead of. But yeah, Avishka is practising well. It's a little bit unfortunate, he picked up a niggle which caused him to miss one of the warm up games -- I forget which one. I think it was the South Africa game. He got injured at Cardiff. He missed one or two of the warm up games, so that's possibly the reason why he hasn't started so far. But he's been practising well. He played well in Scotland in his last ODI. I think he got his highest-ever ODI score there. It was a bit of a while ago, but that's his last ODI innings and he got 70-odd I think.

Q. Just to elaborate on Mendis, he's obviously very talented test player and he's made good runs in test form. He's been a bit inconsistent to be honest in one-day cricket. What does he have to do to translate that test form into this format of the game?
JON LEWIS: He's a very talented player. You say he's a talented test player; I agree. The numbers at the moment look good. I think his T20 record is quite good as well, actually. 50 overs, his numbers aren't where a player of his ability should be, yet, he's still quite early in his career to be fair to him. I know he's played 40 or 50 games, but they do rack up quite quick. I think his conversion from 20s, 30s into 80s, 90s, hundreds is the big step forward he needs to make. I said in the two warm up games against Australia and South Africa, two very good sides, I think he got 30 in both. He looked really, really in good touch, and that's the sort of day when you've got to get a hundred because you know, you can't be in good touch every day. So if you could convert his starts, his 25s into a few more big scores, firstly, it would be very good for us as a team because we need our top four to be producing more than just 40s. We need proper scores from that. And it would be good for him, as well. It would give him a lot of confidence. He's only got the one 100 so far in his career, and I think that was Bangladesh, I think. Is that right? Somebody good with the stats? Thank you. So maybe that's a good omen. Maybe he'll get a second one tomorrow.

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