Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss admits his team is fast approaching the end of an era as legendary spinner Muttiah Muralidaran gears up for his final tour of Australia.
Muralidaran, who has already retired from Test cricket and will leave the one-day game after next year’s World Cup, touched down in Perth on Thursday ahead of Sunday’s Twenty20 clash with Australia at the WACA Ground.
Bayliss described Muralidaran as irreplaceable and said the 38-year-old was looking forward to his final tour of Australia - despite the troubles he had experienced here in the past due to his suspect bowling action.
“He loves coming to Australia. The two (warm-up) matches we’ve played so far he’s been well received and he’s bowling well,” Bayliss said.
“No one’s ever going to be able to replace someone of the calibre of Murali and his character as well.
“You could say he’s the lifeblood of Sri Lankan cricket, as in the past they’ve had (Sanath) Jayasuriya and (Chaminda) Vaas as well.
“It’s coming to the end of a little bit of an era there I suppose, you know from the ‘96 World Cup (winning) team.
“Between those guys and Murali, they’ve really put Sri Lankan cricket on the map and it will be a sad day for Sri Lankan cricket when the last of those guys retire.”
Bayliss said Sri Lanka would try to expose Australia’s weaknesses during the Twenty20 and three one-day clashes.
“We’re here to win every game possible,” Bayliss said.
“We’ve had two practice games so far that we’ve been successful in so it’s a good start for us and the boys are full of confidence and we are here to beat Australia.
“Australia’s going to be very tough to beat in their own backyard.
“Results haven’t really gone their way ... over the last little bit so they’ll be out to prove a point.
“They’re not quite as consistent as they have been in the past.
“They’re still a very good cricket side, they’ve got some good young players coming into the team and they’re starting to do well.
“It might take them just a little while to be really consistent so we hope to take advantage of that.”