Island Cricket

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bayliss keen to foster good relations

The Age: Sri Lankan coach Trevor Bayliss said he would be telling his players to socialise with the Australians after matches to help foster good relations between the teams.

Bayliss is keen for his squad to avoid the ill feeling on display in Australia's Test series against India. Anil Kumble's side threatened to suspend their tour after the second Test in Sydney earlier this month.

Kumble had accused the Australians of not playing in the spirit of the game, and the Indians could send further shockwaves through the international cricket community if Harbhajan Singh's appeal against a three-Test ban for racially abusing Andrew Symonds fails.

The Sri Lankans made a low-key start to their tour, arriving on Friday and having a two-hour net session at the SCG on Sunday.

Bayliss took over the Sri Lankan coaching role from former Australian World Cup all-rounder Tom Moody in August last year and led Sri Lanka to a 2-0 Test series defeat in Australia in November.

Asked if there was any ill feeling between the Australian and Sri Lankan teams in November's Test series, Bayliss said: "Certainly not. It was quite the opposite actually.

"The two teams got on well," added Bayliss, a former NSW player and coach.

"From my point of view I made an effort for our blokes to actually go into the change rooms after the Test matches to get to know some of the Australian guys.

"They certainly did that. It was very good out on the field and also afterwards in the dressing room.

"From all reports Tom (Moody) was trying to do the same.

"It's very difficult with the Sri Lankan guys. They are a very shy sort of a team so it has taken a bit of encouragement but slowly we're getting there."

Symonds has been a lightning rod for controversy in the current Test series against India and in Australia's one-day tour of India in October. But Bayliss said the Queenslander's strong friendship with Sri Lankan world-record holder Muttiah Muralitharan would help keep a good spirit between the two sides.

"Murali is good mates with everyone. He's just a fantastic bloke and good fun to be around," Bayliss said.

Bayliss said he had only followed the Australia-India tensions in the newspapers.

"We are not too concerned about what has gone on there," he said.

"It looks like these two teams have got over it."

Moody now coaches his home state Western Australia, who are playing in a Pura Cup match against NSW at the SCG this weekend.

"They (Sri Lankan players) are looking forward to catching up with him over the next couple of days," Bayliss said.

Bayliss said Sri Lanka's batsmen in particular would be keen to make a statement after their poor efforts in the Test series against Australia.

"The last time we were here two years ago we made the finals of this tri-series," Bayliss said of the World Cup runners-up.

"I suppose we have got something to prove after the Test series here.

"We didn't play as well as we would have hoped, especially with the bat."

Sri Lanka have a trial game against Sydney club Bankstown on Sunday, followed by the clash with the Prime Minister's XI in Canberra on Wednesday and a further warm-up game against Tasmania in Hobart on February 2.

Sri Lanka's first game in the tri-series is against India at the Gabba on February 5.

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