Test cricket is going to give farewell to one of its most elegant batsman and stroke maker Mahela Jayawardene, when he quits the longer format after the second Test against Pakistan, starting in Colombo on Thursday.
“My job is done” – Jayawardene admitted it was not an easy decision to retire. He said that that it was an honour and great privilege of representing his country for the past 17 years.“But I believe this is the right time. The younger players in the side are doing well and Angelo (Mathews) has settled in as captain. My job is done”, he said.
Few cricketers have exemplified the spirit of the game better than the Jayawardene, the 37-year-old legend, even though his pleasant demeanor hides nerves of steel, an obsessive drive for perfection and a calculating mind. The elegant right-hand batsman left Twenty20 Internationals after Sri Lanka’s title-winning campaign in the World T20 in April, but still hopes to compete in one day World Cup in next year.
Jayawardene is one of only five elegant batsmen to score more than 11,000 runs in both Test and one-day cricket — the others four batsman are Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Kumar Sangakkara, his Sri Lankan teammate.
An average of 50.02 over 148 Tests with 34 centuries shows his hunger for runs throughout a 17-year-career. Admitted that his form outside Asia has been inconsistent but he has set a deluge of records at home.
He scored a huge 374 during a world record partnership of 624 with Sangakkara (287) against a team like South Africa with their tremendous attack that included Dale Steyn and Makhya Ntini on his home ground at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in Colombo in 2006.
Jayawardene looked set to surpass Brian Lara‘s record of 400 when he was bowled against the run of play. Ever the team-mate, he preferred to rejoice in his team’s huge win by an innings and 153 runs.
A prolific slip-catcher, Jayawardene’s 202 catches are second only to India’s Rahul Dravid and his record tally of 210 by a fielder other than a wicket-keeper.
Jayawardene was also an astute captain who took gave Sri Lanka the glory of being in World Cup final in 2007. He quit the post in 2009, but continued to play under Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan before he took on the job again in 2012 for a year as Mathews was groomed.