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Cricket | International

FEATURE: Mahela, the elegant gentleman



Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene closed the curtain on an illustrious test career on August 18, 2014, leaving a huge gap in the Sri Lanka batting order as well as the dressing room, which the island country will find difficult to bridge.

Since his debut as a 20-year-old against India in 1997, Jayawardene has gone on to become one of Sri Lanka's most prolific run-getters and has been a source of pleasure for cricket's purists with his deft touch and lazy elegance.

Despite being one of the most liked and admired cricketers of his generation, the man was an intense competitor. He played hard but within the rules and his aggression never spilled over.

He still remains available for the 50-over format, and has high hopes of representing his country in the 2015 ICC World Cup.


Statistics
Factbox
Quotes


THE ELEGANT RUN-MACHINE

One of the game's most elegant stroke-makers, Mahela Jayawardene, enjoyed a fitting farewell to test cricket at his home ground as Sri Lanka completed a 2-0 series sweep against Pakistan on Monday.

Few cricketers exemplified the spirit of the game better than the gentlemanly 37-year-old, though his pleasant demeanour hid nerves of steel, a calculating, street-smart mind and an obsessive drive for perfection.

His final innings at his favourite Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in Colombo on Sunday had been yet another classy knock of 54 that saw him complete the milestone of a half century of test fifties.

He had retired from Twenty20 internationals after Sri Lanka's title-winning campaign in the World T20 in April, but will continue in the 50-over game hoping to compete in next year's one-day World Cup in Australia.

Jayawardene is one of only five batsmen to score more than 11 000 runs in both test and one-day cricket – the others being Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and teammate Kumar Sangakkara.

That he finished with an average of 49.84 over 149 tests with 34 hundreds, six times passing 200, illustrates his irrepressible hunger for runs through a 17-year-career.

Although his form outside Asia had been inconsistent, he set a deluge of records at home.

He scored a monumental 374 during a world record partnership of 624 with Sangakkara (287) against a South African attack that included Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini at the SSC in 2006.

Jayawardene looked set to surpass Brian Lara's record of 400 when he was bowled against the run of play. Ever the teammate, he preferred to rejoice in his team's huge win by an innings and 153 runs.

He got an immediate taste of big scores on his test debut as a 20-year-old in 1997, when Sri Lanka piled up a world record total of 952-6 declared against India at the Premadasa stadium in Colombo.

Slated to bat at No 6, the young Jayawardene saw Sanath Jayasuriya make 340, supported by Roshan Mahanama (225), before himself scoring 66.

Jayawardene's farewell test was originally scheduled to be played at the P. Sara Oval in Colombo before officials accepted a request to move it to the SSC.

His 2 921 runs in 27 tests at the SSC are the most by any batsman at a single ground, marked by an average of 74.89 with 11 centuries and nine 50s.

Last month, against Hashim Amla's South African team, Jayawardene showed his skills had not diminished as he once again revelled in the serene surroundings of the SSC to make a fluent 165.

He bid farewell to another happy hunting ground in Galle in the first test just over a week ago by making 59 in the first innings, and 26 in the unfamiliar role of an opener in the second as Sri Lanka beat fading light and approaching rain to chase down a target of 99 with 4.2 overs to spare against Pakistan.

Jayawardene was almost lost for words as he addressed a crowd that included Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse after the match on Monday.

"I don't know what to say, but I promise I won't cry," Jayawardene said at the presentation ceremony.

"I love you all. Thank you so much for the support all these years. I still have a little bit left and I promise I'll give it my all for the World Cup."

A prolific slip-catcher, Jayawardene's 202 catches are second only to India's Rahul Dravid who holds the record for a fielder other than a wicketkeeper with 210.

Jayawardene was also an astute captain who took Sri Lanka to the 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 Angelo Mathews was groomed.

Off the field, Jayawardene is the co-owner with Sangakkara of an upmarket fish restaurant in Colombo.

Sangakkara had said ahead of the match that his good friend will be hard to replace.

"Not just me, but the cricket world, Sri Lankan fans and our whole team will feel the loss of a great player like Mahela," Sangakkara said. "It will take a long time to fill that void."

Kuldip Lal, AFP


STATISTICS (As at August 18, 2014)

Batting and fielding averages

Mat Inns NO Runs HS Avg BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St
Tests 149
252
15
11814 274 49.84 22959 51.45 34
50
1387 61
205
0
ODIs 420
393
38 11681 144
32.90 14964
78.06
16
72 1013 68 204 0
T20Is 55
55 8
1493 100 31.76 1121 133.18 1
9
173 33 17 0
First-class 237
383 24 17838 374 49.68     51 80     305 0
List A 511 477 49 14206 163*
33.19
    17 89     249 0
Twenty20 170 165 24 4051 110*
28.73
3129 129.46
2 26 466 93 55
0
Bowling averages

Mat Inns Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Avg Econ SR 4w 5w 10






Tests 149
22
589 310 6 2/32
2/32 51.66 3.15 98.1 0
0 0
ODIs 420
27 582 558 7 2/56 2/56 79.71 5.75 83.1 0
0 0
T20Is 55 1
6 8 0 -
- -
8.00 - 0
0 0
First-class 237   3001 1629 52 5/72   31.32 3.25 57.7   1 0
List A 511   1269 1141 23 3/25 3/25 49.60 5.39 55.1 0 0 0
Twenty20 170
4 69 82 3 2/22 2/22 27.33 7.13 23.0 0 0 0
All-time top 10 Test run-scorers
Name
Span
Mat
Inns
NO
Runs
HS
Avg
100
50
0
SR Tendulkar 1989-2013 200 329 33 15921 248* 53.78 51 68 14
RT Ponting 1995-2012 168 287 29 13378 257 51.85 41 62 17
JH Kallis 1995-2013 166 280 40 13289 224 55.37 45 58 16
R Dravid 1996-2012 164 286 32 13288 270 52.31 36 63 8
*KC Sangakkara 2000-2014 128 221 17 11988 319 58.76 37 51 10
BC Lara 1990-2006 131 232 6 11953 400* 52.88 34 48 17
DPMD Jayawardene
1997-2014 149 252 15 11814 374 49.84 34 50 15
*S Chanderpaul
1994-2014 156 266 46 11414 203* 51.88 29 63 14
AR Border
1978-1994 156 265 44 11174 205 50.56 27 63 11
SR Waugh 1985-2004 168 260 46 10927 200 51.06 32 50 22
All-time top 10 Test fielders (excluding wicket-keepers)
Name
Span
Mat
Inns
Ct
Max
Ct/Inns
R Dravid
1996-2012 164 301 210 3 0.697
DPMD Jayawardene 1997-2014 149 270 205 4 0.759
JH Kallis 1995-2013 166 315 200 4 0.634
RT Ponting 1995-2012 168 328 196 3 0.597
ME Waugh
1991-2002 128 245 181 4 0.738
SP Fleming 1994-2008 111 199 171 5 0.859
GC Smith 2002-2014 117 225 169 5 0.751
BC Lara 1990-2006 131 241 164 4 0.680
MA Taylor 1989-1999 104 197 157 4 0.796
AR Border 1978-1994 156 277 156 4 0.563


FACTBOX

MAKING HIS NAME

* Born on May 27, 1977 in Colombo.

* Made his test debut as a 20-year-old against India in Colombo in 1997.

MILESTONES

* Played 149 tests for Sri Lanka, scoring 11,814 runs at an average of 49.84.

* The right-handed batsman has scored 34 test centuries and 50 fifties in tests.

* He also has six double centuries and one triple century and has a highest score of 374, during which he combined in a record 624-run partnership with Kumar Sangakkara.

* Jayawardene has taken six wickets in tests with his medium-pace bowling.

* He was also a reliable slip fielder and has taken 205 catches in tests, the most by any fielder.

CAPTAINCY

* He was appointed Sri Lanka's captain in 2006 and led the team till 2009 before standing down.

* During the stint he also led Sri Lanka to the final of the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, where the team lost to Australia.

* He returned to the helm for a second stint in 2012 but quit after a year, handing over the captaincy to Angelo Mathews.

* Jayawardene has led Sri Lanka in 38 tests, winning 18 of those matches.

END OF THE ROAD

* The second test against Pakistan at Colombo was Jayawardene's last test match for Sri Lanka.

* He finished as Sri Lanka's second highest run-getter in tests behind Kumar Sangakkara and seventh in the all-time list of top scorers in the world in the longest format.


QUOTES

Kumar Sangakkara: "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."

Angelo Mathews: "The younger guys, including me, have learned so much from him. Up to now, he has supported me right throughout from day one, and I'm really thankful to him for that."

"It's an emotional day. Mahela has been a pillar of strength, an older brother for me. He's the smartest guy in the team, the go-to man always, and the effort that he makes with his knowledge and ability is wonderful.

"Thank you to his parents for bringing him up the way they have. It's not going to be easy to fill his shoes. One of the best players who has ever played the game."

Misbah-ul-Haq: "Not only Sri Lankans, all fans all over the world are going to miss him. I really wish him best of luck in his coming life.

"He will be around in one-day cricket, but in this format everybody is going to miss him. He is really a legend."



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