Kumar Sangakkara needed to take a few days to decide whether to accept the captaincy for the final Test against England in place of the injured Tillakaratne Dilshan. Sangakkara stood down controversially after the World Cup final, but has agreed to resume the role for the good of Sri Lanka according to team-mate Mahela Jayawardene.
Sangakkara took charge in the field during England's second innings at Lord's, but Thilan Samaraweera captained the Sri Lankans in their tour match against Essex over the weekend with Sangakkara wanting to focus on his batting after a lean tour. There was a suggestion he remained reluctant to captain the side again although he remained the logical choice as Sri Lanka try to level the series at the Rose Bowl.
"He had to think about it for a few days, because he only stood down from the job back in April, but I think he felt that you have to take responsibility in a situation such as this," Jayawardene told ESPNcricinfo. "It's a Test match, we're one-nil down, and it's an important opportunity to level the series. In the end he decided that for the team and for the country, it was the right thing to do.
"It was unfortunate that we didn't appoint a vice-captain for this tour, because we never anticipated a situation like this arising. However, Kumar was always the guy to look after things if they went wrong. He didn't lead the side against Essex last week but that was simply because he needed a break and a chance to concentrate on his batting. Being such a class act, you always know he'll come good after failing in a few games, and sure enough he batted really well for a big hundred. It's not a big deal now, and everyone's looking forward to the last Test."
However, Jayawardene admitted that Dilshan's absence would be a major loss for the tourists after he scored a magnificent 193 at Lord's to enable Sri Lanka to regain pride after the embarrassing defeat in Cardiff. Dilshan knew he was struggling to make this match as he sat out the final two days at Lord's, but such is his importance to Sri Lanka they were clinging to hope that he would recover.
"We gave him a chance to get back to full fitness, but he's still not 100%, and after being struck on the thumb three times already, the doctors felt he would be risking a long-term injury if he was hit there again in this match," Jayawardene said. "We took the call probably last evening knowing that his finger hadn't recovered properly. They've decided it would be better to give him time to recover, and hopefully he will be fit for the one-dayers.
"It's a big loss, but we were never going to take any chances with our captain. The swelling on his thumb was pretty bad last week, although that has now gone down and his movement was pretty good in the nets the other day. But you don't want to go in with the mindset that your finger is not 100%. I don't think anyone wants to take that risk, especially someone as important to our team as Dilshan.
Jayawardene, though, insisted it wasn't a case of Sri Lanka prioritising the forthcoming one-day series - their first ODIs since the World Cup final - ahead of the last Test. "First and foremost, the Test was the most important thing," he said. "We'll wait for the one-dayers to see how he's recovered, and I don't think we will risk him if he's not fit initially. We do have a pride in all forms of the game, not just one-day cricket, but with our recent form at the World Cup we want to continue that."