Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart December 13, 2012

Jayawardene to step down as captain after tour


Mahela Jayawardene has confirmed he will step down from the captaincy at the end of Sri Lanka's tour of Australia - a move he had hinted at for some months now. Jayawardene's second stint at the helm began in January, when he was called in to replace Tillakaratne Dilshan. The fifth ODI on January 23 in Hobart will be his final match as captain.

Vice-captain Angelo Mathews is the most likely successor, and Jayawardene said his decision to step down was largely borne from a desire to assist Mathews with leadership in Mathews' first phase as captain. Jayawardene will continue to be available for selection in all forms of cricket.

"I took over the captaincy for 12 months and that ends after this series, so I don't want to continue to captain Sri Lanka after this tour. This will be my last," Jayawardene said on the eve of the first Test. "I was going to wait until the end of the series but I thought I might as well do it now, having had a chat to the selectors."

Jayawardene had resigned from the captaincy in 2009 after four years in the job, and was reinstalled by the selectors after Dilshan's leadership had proven unsuccessful. The team had had a poor stretch of results since the 2011 World Cup, amid financial distress for the board and administrative tumult in Sri Lanka Cricket's first election in seven years.

Jayawardene's leadership appeared to restore Sri Lanka's on-field fortunes almost immediately, when they performed creditably in the ODI tri-series in Australia in February. Since then he has also led the side to a home win against then No.1-ranked Test side England, making a critical 180 to set up victory in March, before earning Sri Lanka their first Test series win in three years, in July. Sri Lanka then advanced to the final of the World Twenty20 under his watch, matching the runners-up medals they had also earnt in the 2007 World Cup, during Jayawardene's first stint at the helm.

"I hope I don't get any more SOS calls from them later on," he said. "This year has been brilliant. I've enjoyed and what I've achieved."

Mathews has been considered for the captaincy as far back as April 2011, when Kumar Sangakkara resigned from the job. Dilshan was considered the safer alternative then, given Mathews' youth and inexperience, but he has become a much more mature player since and has also had a successful brush with leadership in the Sri Lanka Premier League. Mathews was made vice-captain in all forms in July 2011, and has more recently been named Sri Lanka's Twenty20 captain. If he succeeds Jayawardene, he will be Sri Lanka's fourth Test captain in 24 months.

"I think Angelo is the one everyone has earmarked and I think he's good enough. If you see some of the other captains while they were young, you've got [Graeme] Smith, [Stephen] Fleming and a few others around - maybe the first few years will be tough for them, but they'll grow into the job. I think maybe if Angelo gets the opportunity, the transition will be much easier for him because he'll have Kumar, myself and Dilshan around him in tough situations. We can build him through that period and after that he'll be on his own."

Sri Lanka are light on Tests in 2013, thanks to five Tests being removed from their calendar next year, and a home series against Bangladesh will be the new captain's first assignment at the helm. The Champions Trophy looms later in the year however, as well as an ODI tri-series in the West Indies and a full away tour against Pakistan in December. "We don't have a lot of cricket next year - not many big tours," Jayawardene said. "So it will be a nice easy start for Angelo if he takes over."

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ty on December 16, 2012, 1:30 GMT

    Mahela was nick named as Maina during his Nalanda days. We used to hammer him. He is grown a lot since then.

    Well good luck. But SL need to look forward beyond Mahela, Sanga and Tilan. I really hope IPL will be banned in SL and players can focus on for SL not their pockets.

  • mohammad on December 15, 2012, 5:48 GMT

    @vinodgupte . Mahela's average is better than Tendulkar's average at the current home series against England in their own backyard and to many he is a better player, well respected all over the world.

  • Muhmmad on December 14, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    Great selfless decision by Mahela one of most favourite cricketers from the sri lankan team.He's a true gentleman of the game Best of Luck Mahela and sri lanka from Pakistan.@Satanwish...mate we are talking about one of greats of the game show some RESPECT!!

  • Gopalakrishna on December 14, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    He is giving up captaincy because he doesnt want to remain the captain.. He was asked to captain even when he was not interested. Lets face it, SL dont have a leader like him.. He can continue to be one for as long as he wants...

    And same is the case with India too my friends.. We dont have a captaincy material player in test cricket.. So lets salute a guy of this calibre..

    Mahela, Sanga, Sachin, Kallis all would be gone soon my friends.. Ponting is already gone and then we will see the quality of cricket left :(

  • Rakitha on December 14, 2012, 3:06 GMT

    I watched (and still remember) the first test match Mahela played in 1997 where SL thumbed India by scoring highest innings total(952) in the history. Now he steps down as captain. I can't believe how fast the time has flown.

  • Shane on December 14, 2012, 2:18 GMT

    Looking forward to seeing Jayawardene in full flight during the Aussie tour.

    Not too many runs though, I want the Aussies to win!

  • Adil on December 14, 2012, 0:21 GMT

    This is what a true leader do. Think about future of country first and self glory second. Mahela has won my respect even more, and I am not Sri Lankan.

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2012, 22:37 GMT

    @Narbavi & Vineesh Vedsen: if Mahela is quitting due to 'cowardice' at the prospect of being defeated by the Aussies, it stands to reason that he'd have resigned the captaincy *before* the series rather than afterwards, doesn't it? The logical thought processes of Indian cricket fans never cease to amaze me.

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2012, 22:19 GMT

    A typically gracious & unselfish act by Mahela, one of the true gentlemen of the game. Contrast the attitudes of genuine team players like Mahela & Sangakkara with those of Dhoni & Tendulkar, who are hanging on to their places in the Indian Test team long past their sell-by dates & to the detriment of the team as a whole: selfish players intent only on maximising commercial endorsements & personal records. Watching Mahela, Sangakkara & Dilshan bat has been one of the cricketing joys of the past decade. Let's hope Sri Lanka can find adequate replacements for them. Chandimal looks as if he's cut from the same cloth, but where are the others?

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2012, 21:13 GMT

    there are no replacments for great captains.. in my time i have seen border, graham smith,imran,arjuna, marvan were leading their own manners. trained the leaders like no one else . some players lucky enough to lead own teams to pinnacle of world cup win. i know you were so unlucky twice. but the history of cricket will talk about mahela a lot as captain and one of the best ever slip fielder .you are among very less captains in the world who can predict a score once checking a pitch .other than handling of malinga your bawler selection was the best .i personally like your simplicity. you were the same man we met at school time for ever .there is a time for every one . your time is not over for many years as a cricketer . it is the duty of authorities to talents of you, sanga as senior players for next 3 years and then as coaches next . we dont have to direct you all like vassy to lead other countries to beat our selves in our own land .

  • No featured comments at the moment.