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The Nation’s tribute to Mahela Jayawardene

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Mahela Jayawardene retires from Test cricket at the end of the on-going second Test against Pakistan at the SSC having represented his country in the most number of Tests – 149.He has proved to be a cricketer to come out of the top drawer and throughout his 17-year career has carved a name for himself to be ranked amongst the modern greats of the game.

Of the 34 Test hundreds he has scored Jayawardene picked five of his best innings (see below).“For me all the hundreds are special whatever the conditions and the occasions but these are the bit more specials because I managed to contribute towards winning a game or saving a game which is vital,” said Jayawardene.

Although Jayawardene boasts of an outstanding record at home where he averages 60.24 for 7109 runs scored in 80 Tests his overseas record comparably is not as impressive averaging 41.50 for 4317 runs from 51 Tests.  “It depends on the ratio of cricket that I have played. I haven’t played many cricket matches in Australia as I have played in South Africa. England I played a fair bit and performed well,” said Jayawardene.

“It depends on the countries we toured India and Pakistan they put that as subcontinent so what can I do, I score runs when I am given an opportunity. Every time any batsmen cannot just go and keep scoring runs he tends to make mistakes.“People can criticize and say things and stuff like that it is something that I cannot control. Different people have different opinions. I am not a big stats guy I just go by the way I played and contributed to a winning cause.“I always play to win. If I can contribute to a winning cause, that’s the most important thing. Stats do matter in a certain way but it’s not a huge thing. It’s about me enjoying the game and contributing to the team.”

Decision to quit
“I thought it was the right time for me it was about whether I could improve myself from here onwards and you don’t have much Test cricket next year till late August another year gone so I am not getting any younger.“For me to have the motivation to guide myself throughout that I thought wasn’t worth it and for the team as well because if I can’t improve from where I am right now then there’s no point just dragging it is better to invest in another youngster and build the team.“I had high peaks than this throughout my career. I am still performing well and I am consistent but whether I can improve as a Test batsman from beyond this point is questionable because I am not getting any younger so you need to make certain tough calls at times.”


Kumar Sangakkara on Mahela

The Mahela-Sanga partnership
I am not sure how the partnership started the whole perception of us as a combination especially batting together. I remember coming into the team when he was vice captain he and I were of the same age and had a lot of things in common. We hit it off pretty early on and we more than enjoyed the countries we traveled to, enjoyed the food going out and exploring what the countries had to offer. Just that brought us together cemented a friendship and that turned out to be pretty advantageous especially the way we batted together from then onto now. Also the fact that we’ve been captain and vice captain and vice versa when him or I have been captain and it’s just been that way for quite awhile. Our families are close friends and we’ve business partnerships together we always try to have ventures and associations with people whom we can trust that’s what happened off the field and on the field it’s been a magnificent partnership with Mahela over the years batting and being a part of the team with him is something very special.

How will he be missed?
All the innings he has played for Sri Lanka has been special ones but it’s more of Mahela the person that the dressing room will miss. The intensity he brought to the dressing room, his leadership, his ability to communicate, his skill on the field and just his personality off it. The guys hold him in high esteem and they will miss him quite a bit.

What will the dressing room look like without him?
When Murali left the dressing room was much quieter than before. Everyone felt it immediately that he was not playing with us anymore forget the amount of wickets that he took for us but just him as a character we missed a lot. It’s going to be the same with Mahela without a doubt the dressing room will be slightly emptier without him. He doesn’t seem to be vociferous outside but inside he’s got his opinion he is always in touch with the news what’s happening around the world, current affairs and sports he’s always got something to say. What you see on the field and until you know him closely he is quite a different person.


Mahela’s 34 Test hundreds


Favourite venues

The Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) ground where the current Test match is taking place has been Mahela Jayawardene’s favourite ground scoring a world record 2863 runs (avg. 77.37) from 26 Tests with 11 hundreds – the most runs scored on a single ground.What’s so special?“It’s a very true wicket with the bounce consistent. For a batsman it’s a good confidence wicket. It’s not the easiest but once you get yourself settled it’s quite easy to score runs and you get value for your shots. It’s just the conditions and how you go about it.”

The Galle International Stadium is Jayawardene’s second favourite venue where he has scored the second highest number of runs on a single ground – 2382 runs (avg. 70.05) from 23 Tests with 7 hundreds. It was the venue where he scored the first of his 34 Test hundreds.What’s so special?“Although I have not played so much domestic cricket there you tend to know the conditions better the more times you play. You continue to play at the venue you get familiar with them especially Galle what the wind is going to do in the morning and in the afternoon and how the wicket is going to behave on the first, second, third and fourth days. You know your strengths and weaknesses what you can do on those kinds of tracks so you just try to have a game plan and try and execute them.” 


The Nation asked Mahela Jayawardene to pick his best five innings in Test cricket

(Design by Malaka)

1. 167 v New Zealand at Galle 1998 – (338 mins, 278 balls, 18 fours)
My first Test hundred at Galle conditions were tough I didn’t know I would go that far but it made me. It was my fourth Test match and it gave me a lot of confidence because I had scored three fifties before that. To score a hundred gives you that acknowledgement that you belong there, that you can do it at that level. On top of that the conditions were a factor. The game plan I executed, what I wanted to do, how I went about it, gave me a lot of confidence in analysing my game and how I can adjust that at international level. All those little, little things come into play when you get a hundred like that upfront. It was a big confidence booster. The next highest score for Sri Lanka was 36. At that particular moment you won’t think about it but after a few weeks, months or years later when you analyse it you think you did something special. The thought processes that went through made a big difference.
NZ bowlers: O’Connor, Cairns, Wiseman, Vettori, Harris, McMillan, Astle
2.119 v England at Lord’s 2006 – (366 mins, 220 balls, 12 fours)
The Lord’s hundred in 2006 to save that game that was something special. We got a bollocking from Tom (Moody) the way we batted in the first innings we just gave up (all out 192), so we needed to prove a point to the coach. He’s just taken over and all the guys buckled down and played great knocks just not me we got six other guys scoring fifties. It was a special effort by the team because of that we went onto draw the series. It was my first Test series as captain so that makes it extra special.England bowlers: Hoggard, Flintoff, Plunkett, Mahmood, Panesar.

3. 374 v South Africa at SSC 2006 (752 mins, 572 balls, 43 fours,1 six)
Obviously the 374 because of the duration and concentration I went through and a chanceless knock that is something special and the partnership (world record 624 with Kumar Sangakkara) was one. The situation when I came to bat was 14-2 we were just batting for the situation to get us through that initial period making sure we were not under pressure. The situation dictated how we went about and got the runs. The partnership built up later in the last few days but initially it was batting accordingly against a very good South African attack that that’s why it’s special. Batting with Sanga was much easier because he is a very solid player; being a left hander as well the right hand-left hand combination helped us more with the bowling attacks. We know each other’s game whom we need to attack and whom we don’t need to, we take turns and dominate bowlers differently.
South African bowlers: Ntini, Steyn, Nel, Hall, Boje
4.104 v Australia at Hobart 2007 (271 mins, 194 balls, 13 fours)
The hundred at Hobart was against a very good Australian attack. I had to dig deep in my game in the first innings because we lost a few wickets. Sanga came and got 192 in the second innings. Australian bowlers: Lee, Johnson, Clark, MacGill.
5.123 v South Africa at P Sara Oval 2006 (359 mins, 248 balls, 11 fours, 2 sixes)
The other hundred was against South Africa at the P Sara Oval where we won the Test by one wicket chasing 352. It was the fourth innings of a Test and to chase down that score was something. For me that’s the most important thing if you can contribute to a winning cause. Those memories last longer chasing over 300 in the fourth innings and for us to get there it was very good. South African bowlers: Ntini, Steyn Boje, Pollock, Hall.

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