Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene on Monday paid tribute to Indian veteran VVS Laxman, who recently retired from international cricket, saying that the game will be poorer without one of the finest players of this generation.
"Laxman was one of the finest players of our times and world cricket will miss him. He has contributed a lot to the game and to his country's success," Jayawardene said in an media interaction at the sidelines of Sri Lanka Premier League.
"I don't know under what circumstances he retired but every international cricketer will have to take a call finally and he must have thought it was time for him to go. Rahul (Dravid) surprised people when he decided to quit. VVS must also have some plan for his future.
"But you cannot take away his achievements as a cricketer. As a person also he is a fantastic guy," added the Wayamba United skipper.
Laxman announced his retirement from international cricket with immediate effect, even though he was selected for India's home Test series against New Zealand, before the first match at his home town Hyderabad.
Shifting to SLPL, Jayawardene was happy with Wayamba's performance as the team currently tops the points table with five wins from six league matches.
"We knew that SLPL will start small and grow in future. I am happy with the way things have gone this inaugural year. Some good domestic players are coming out of this tournament. Young Indian players came through from IPL and I think this will happen in the SLPL also," he said.
Jayawardene was all praise for young off-spin sensation Akila Dananjaya, who he felt should be fast-tracked into the national team.
"I was surprised by his performance in the SLPL. He is a raw talent and will have to be handled carefully," said Jayawardene about Dananjaya, who was included in Sri Lanka's Twenty20 World Cup squad on the strength of his fine bowling performance in the SLPL.
The spinner had so far taken eight wickets from five matches for Wayamba.
Jayawardene, however, indicated that Dananjaya will not be straightway included in the Sri Lankan playing eleven.
"It's early days for him. We have to see how things go on. We have to see the right time to introduce him. Fortunately, we have the options in the national side. We have Ajantha Mendis who played in the SLPL after a six months lay off due to injury," he said.
Kumar Sangakkara was selected in the Sri Lankan Twenty20 World Cup squad subject to his fitness in time and Jayawardene said the wicketkeeper batsman will be fit.
"Sangakkara will start practice next week. We have three weeks before the start of the T20 World Cup and he will be fit for the tournament. We have a reserve wicketkeeper in Dinesh Chandimal in case Sangakkara is not fit," Jayawardene said.
He also said that the team management has not decided whether he will open the Sri Lankan innings or not.
"We have not decided as yet whether I bat as opener or not. We will sit and decide. But I love to open innings. My conversion rate has been high and at the top of the order you can score big."