Mike Holmans June 2, 2011

Hail Mahela

The best sort of cricket match to watch is one which your team wins and your favourite player on the other side gets a hundred or a five-for
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The best sort of cricket match to watch is one which your team wins and your favourite player on the other side gets a hundred or a five-for. I am therefore hoping that Lord's will bring another England win and another century for Mahela Jayawardene.

I can't say that I noticed him on his first visit to England in 1998. Sri Lanka only played the one Test, in which Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya were so dazzling that a 21-year-old with no record who scored very few passed under the radar.

But when England went to Sri Lanka a couple of years later, it was very different. In the first Test at Galle Jayawardene came in at 5 to join Marvan Atapattu, who was on his way to a double hundred, following the dismissal of Aravinda de Silva for a typically stylish hundred of his own. In such a healthy position, he obviously had a bit of licence to play his shots, which he proceeded to do – and I was captivated.

Such economy of movement, such timing, such precision, such delicacy. A Swiss watchmaker would have been very proud to have constructed a mechanism which functioned so perfectly.

He did even better in the second Test at Kandy. Sri Lanka were in a bit of trouble at 80-4 when he was joined by Russel Arnold, who had the sense to keep his head down and keep his end going while Jayawardene set about the bowling. Wiseacres might have called it irresponsible, but he had resolved to counter-attack – and it worked. No-one could bowl to him as he scampered to a brilliant three-hour hundred. So pleased was he with reaching three figures that he fatally lost concentration and was out almost immediately, but I was now prepared to predict a very bright future for him.

Not realising how long Sachin Tendulkar would go on, I thought Mahela would succeed Sachin as the best batsman around, and I looked forward to his visit to England in 2002.

In the first Test at Lord's, he twinkled his way to a ton in the sunshine, with Marvan Atapattu again playing straight man on his way to another huge score. Mahela was at his entertaining best, playing beautiful wristy shots off all and sundry. Atapattu's 185 was a larger part of the Lankan's imposing 555, and Aravinda de Silva's 88 was typical of the man, but it was Mahela's champagne-style innings which captured the heart as well as the eye. It was probably at this point that the career trajectories of de Silva and Jayawardene crossed; from there on, Mahela became Sri Lanka's marquee batsman as Aravinda gradually faded.

But there was a slight suspicion that he was a froth player: he wasn't then well-known for being able to put his head down and graft when the going got tough. Things could not have been much tougher, though, when he came out to bat at Lord's in the second innings in 2006. Sri Lanka were 250 behind in their follow-on with more than two days remaining; it was going to take something quite heroic to pull the game out of the fire, and captain Jayawardene produced it. His patient hundred took up day four in as boring a way as he could manage. Which isn't all that boring: his impregnability meant that he did not wave that magic wand of a bat as often but when he did, the crystal flash lit up the gloomy grey.

Although it depends on what the next Future Tours Programme comes up with, it is very likely that this will be Mahela's last Test tour of England, which means that Lord's will be my last chance to see him bat in a Test. I don't care in what manner he gets it - he is one of those batsmen who cannot play a horrid innings whatever he does – but I really hope he can complete a hat-trick of centuries at HQ so I can stand and applaud him while wishing him farewell. I'd just rather he didn't end up on the winning side.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vis8 on January 29, 2012, 20:58 GMT

    Mahels's world cup final hundred will go down in cricketing history as an all-time classic of concentration and execution.

  • Mattyboy on October 16, 2011, 2:12 GMT

    Great article Mike. Mahela is the most lethal batsman in all 3 formats. He reads the game well and takes calculated risk from 1st ball. He got the best cricketing brain just like Shane Warne or Vivian Richards. Mahela is the best cricketer Sri Lanka ever produced. People who compare Mahela with Sanga and Aravinda dont know what they talking about. They are all good batsmans but Mahela is a world class act. I watched most of Kochi matches (IPL) and he always predict winning score heaps better than Sachin and all other Indians. That shows how much better cricketer he is.

  • udaya on October 1, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    Dear faumi, Year 2003, was nearly a decade ago.But his contributions in 2007 wc semi & 2011 wc final made us really proud.We need more Mahelas in years to come.We are proud of you.

  • faumi on August 8, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    Memorries of 2003 world cup. Can any one recall

  • ex-cricketer on July 24, 2011, 10:08 GMT

    @NUWAN:After the 120 mahela scored in Australia against England in an ODI the great Ari predicted Mahela will be much better than he ever was! It is never easy to compare players of different periods, so just accept that both Ari and Mahela are 2 of a kind :) For those of you have never seen ROY DIAS bat all i can say is sorry mate u should have been born earlier. Having played school cricket with Marvan the Marvel, there is no doubt he was one of the most technically correct batsmen of Sri Lanka ever! Sangakkara no doubt is a good batsman and is classy as a left hander can be. After all there is something cool about good leftys (and some ordinary ones as well) like Gower, Lara, Kambli (remember him?)Fleming et al. Even though Hayden was also a lefty he was more like SAnath and Asnka the Guru, brutal than pleasing. One more thing - people who say Ari won so many for Sri Lanka seem to forget the match against Australia at SSC which we lost chasing 180 and made Shane Warne's career

  • Asitha on July 4, 2011, 3:04 GMT

    Don't even think of comparing Grate Aravinda to Mahela. Aravinda is a world class players can bat in any pitch and a match winner. Aravinda scored against the versy best (Wasim, Waquar, Magrath etc) Mahela cannot suvived even 2 to 3 overs agist quality bowlers. He is a flat track bully.

  • Chinny on June 20, 2011, 1:17 GMT

    So are you guys like forgetting Sangakkara? He is a way more elegant batsman than Jayawardane will ever be...

  • nuwan on June 8, 2011, 11:26 GMT

    @Mok you are defending Mahela.Please think as an unbiased person and see the truth. Mahela has been playing for allmost 12 years now. How many opportunities were given to him, He was not rested, dropped or injured during his carreer i think. which is unfair compared to other players in sri lanka. he is in every match, you think if a person was given a such a luxary. after so much of years definately that player will be the countrys highest run getter. as there is no compettion for him within the team, he will play anchor innings and plays hundreds.you see his name in every match, he doesnt like give his position to a younger players and play as low order batsmen like arjuna or dhoni did. he is selfish player. He wants to be one man show. if you think about past 12 yeard, he continued all the tours 98% of matches. youngsters were never given opportunities. he never get injured because he is a risk free cricketer,unlike murali,dilshan or any fast bowler.not 'hail Mahela' 'failed mahela'

  • mike from Kandy SL on June 7, 2011, 18:35 GMT

    @ Sumedh You complete my comments, the words I mean "Sanga has to go so far" more towards the captaincy & Kumar is having the best average , but still Mahela is leading considering the ability to win matches...

    replying to your question.. I would like to see ARAVINDA, MAHELA, ARJUNA (This is my order) in the end , cause there will be a definite win in the end with these players, my dear..Sanga was there till the end in many times .. but how many wins I doubt or rather I cannot remember any great win.

  • Anjani kumar on June 7, 2011, 12:53 GMT

    Don bradman must be a good player! He is always compared with sachin. .

  • Vis8 on January 29, 2012, 20:58 GMT

    Mahels's world cup final hundred will go down in cricketing history as an all-time classic of concentration and execution.

  • Mattyboy on October 16, 2011, 2:12 GMT

    Great article Mike. Mahela is the most lethal batsman in all 3 formats. He reads the game well and takes calculated risk from 1st ball. He got the best cricketing brain just like Shane Warne or Vivian Richards. Mahela is the best cricketer Sri Lanka ever produced. People who compare Mahela with Sanga and Aravinda dont know what they talking about. They are all good batsmans but Mahela is a world class act. I watched most of Kochi matches (IPL) and he always predict winning score heaps better than Sachin and all other Indians. That shows how much better cricketer he is.

  • udaya on October 1, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    Dear faumi, Year 2003, was nearly a decade ago.But his contributions in 2007 wc semi & 2011 wc final made us really proud.We need more Mahelas in years to come.We are proud of you.

  • faumi on August 8, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    Memorries of 2003 world cup. Can any one recall

  • ex-cricketer on July 24, 2011, 10:08 GMT

    @NUWAN:After the 120 mahela scored in Australia against England in an ODI the great Ari predicted Mahela will be much better than he ever was! It is never easy to compare players of different periods, so just accept that both Ari and Mahela are 2 of a kind :) For those of you have never seen ROY DIAS bat all i can say is sorry mate u should have been born earlier. Having played school cricket with Marvan the Marvel, there is no doubt he was one of the most technically correct batsmen of Sri Lanka ever! Sangakkara no doubt is a good batsman and is classy as a left hander can be. After all there is something cool about good leftys (and some ordinary ones as well) like Gower, Lara, Kambli (remember him?)Fleming et al. Even though Hayden was also a lefty he was more like SAnath and Asnka the Guru, brutal than pleasing. One more thing - people who say Ari won so many for Sri Lanka seem to forget the match against Australia at SSC which we lost chasing 180 and made Shane Warne's career

  • Asitha on July 4, 2011, 3:04 GMT

    Don't even think of comparing Grate Aravinda to Mahela. Aravinda is a world class players can bat in any pitch and a match winner. Aravinda scored against the versy best (Wasim, Waquar, Magrath etc) Mahela cannot suvived even 2 to 3 overs agist quality bowlers. He is a flat track bully.

  • Chinny on June 20, 2011, 1:17 GMT

    So are you guys like forgetting Sangakkara? He is a way more elegant batsman than Jayawardane will ever be...

  • nuwan on June 8, 2011, 11:26 GMT

    @Mok you are defending Mahela.Please think as an unbiased person and see the truth. Mahela has been playing for allmost 12 years now. How many opportunities were given to him, He was not rested, dropped or injured during his carreer i think. which is unfair compared to other players in sri lanka. he is in every match, you think if a person was given a such a luxary. after so much of years definately that player will be the countrys highest run getter. as there is no compettion for him within the team, he will play anchor innings and plays hundreds.you see his name in every match, he doesnt like give his position to a younger players and play as low order batsmen like arjuna or dhoni did. he is selfish player. He wants to be one man show. if you think about past 12 yeard, he continued all the tours 98% of matches. youngsters were never given opportunities. he never get injured because he is a risk free cricketer,unlike murali,dilshan or any fast bowler.not 'hail Mahela' 'failed mahela'

  • mike from Kandy SL on June 7, 2011, 18:35 GMT

    @ Sumedh You complete my comments, the words I mean "Sanga has to go so far" more towards the captaincy & Kumar is having the best average , but still Mahela is leading considering the ability to win matches...

    replying to your question.. I would like to see ARAVINDA, MAHELA, ARJUNA (This is my order) in the end , cause there will be a definite win in the end with these players, my dear..Sanga was there till the end in many times .. but how many wins I doubt or rather I cannot remember any great win.

  • Anjani kumar on June 7, 2011, 12:53 GMT

    Don bradman must be a good player! He is always compared with sachin. .

  • Narinder on June 7, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    @Nuwan.Winning does matter but cricket is a team game and no single man can win you many games not even Sachin when other Indian players were not upto the mark or Lara after the likes of Ambrose, Walsh and Bishop retired.A single man can win you occasional games but a team game can be won consistently by a team effort only as the Aussies used to do.I do agree with you that Aravinda has been the best batsman that Sri Lanka produced.

  • MoK on June 7, 2011, 8:53 GMT

    Mahela is a bit of an underachiever, who's failed to live up to expectations. Strange thing to say, about a man who's made over 9500 test runs @50+. Thing is, he is so talented, we expected him to make it into the Tendulkar-Lara category. But he hasn't quite performed up to that level. It's still a magnificent career, but given his talent, more was expected of him. And I think that frustrates a lot of SL fans who unfairly knock him.

    Having said that, there is a lot of nonsense written about him: (1) He can't score outside the subcontinent - True that his away record is below par (one of the reasons he doesn't make the SRT-Lara class) but that doesn't mean he doesn't score at all. Also note that SL gets very few tests away from home. (2) He is a flat track bully - False. Based on a false assumptions that SL pitches are always flat all the time and the one above. (3) He doesn't score under pressure - Also false. Pure conjecture. Just run through his test centuries and see their context

  • nuwan on June 7, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    @CricketPissek @Mike @Mat I saw u replied to my comment.All of you may be fan of Mahela. But what i wanted to explained here was that he needs to improve a lot, playing as resposible batsman who plays for the team. I compared him with Aravinda,Sanath and Arjuna because they are really the best players produced by the country, who play as a team. We remember the times Aravinda save lof ot games for the country. Sanath gave blasting starts .Arjuna guided the low middle order according to the match.They are agrrasive batsmen and they were very posstive. Mahela is a defensive player truned to an aggrasive, recently with the help of T20's. Yes he scored two hundreds both in a semi final and a final. But he never won a world cup during his carreer. For winning a world cup you must be really deserved. He is an individual player.Remmember how De Silva played 1996 semi final and the final? Those two inningswere greater than Mahela's two hundreds (2007/2011). Winning is matter not scoring

  • Beenu on June 7, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    @Narinder U are correct with ur observations (even though u have made few typing mistakes ..lol).Sachin is a class apart.He is in a league of his own just like Sir Don Bradman.Mahela looks good while he is in flow but people should not jump the gun and compare him to the likes of Sachin.Mahela should not be compared to even Lara and Ponting.Before some people say it, I will myself tell that I know Lara did not have great averages in India and Australia but still he was head and shoulders above the likes of Sanga, Mahela & Yuvi.The quality of attacks faced by Sachin and Lara during 90s & early 2000s was much better than the attacks that batsmen face today.If u want to talk about batting for sheer flow & magic only then u dont talk about Mahelas or Sangas u talk about Gower,Vishwanath,VVS,Mark Waugh & Azhar.Mahle is a good batsman I have no doubts about it but he has not been able to prove himself outside the subcontinent.Sanga is even worse.Even Azhar was not all that good at it.

  • Narinder on June 7, 2011, 4:27 GMT

    Did Shiv say something wrong or bad?Yuo know something..all the fans or ponting, lara or any other batsman in the world makes it a point to try and prove that Sachin in not the greatest of his era and perhaps the greatest since Sir Donald Bradman.Whats wrong with someone giving his opinion?Why people call SRT fans biased when they themselves bring SRT into all this?Mike named SRT in his article and then many people started writing crap by comparing Mahela to SRT and trying to prove Mahela as being better even though he is mostly at sea when it comes to playing in alien conditions.I like Mahela also but is it necessary to bring SRT into all this?As far as winning and scoring centuries is concerned SRT has more than Mahela in Test and ODIs>Mahela's hundred in WC final could nt win them the cup so will you blame him as you blame SRT?Grow Up and talk about the man who is subject matter of this article and not the great SRT.

  • Andrew on June 6, 2011, 15:21 GMT

    sampath, I only see chandimal can continue if he really pick up at this stage.Otherwise no body ther to class of Roy dias, Aravinda and Mahela.

  • faz osman on June 6, 2011, 14:21 GMT

    @ avinash/srinivas

    The trouble is with indian fans. The lot of you are as arrogant and unfriendly as your board. At least when the aussies ruled they focused on cricket and professionalism. I have great respect for players like sachin,rahul and kumble... cant stand the likes of kohli,yuvraj,gambhir. Arrogance personified. Every dog has its day i suppose. But my friends you will fall - and when u do - dont let the door hit ur A**

  • Guruprasad S on June 6, 2011, 12:34 GMT

    This is a timely article to remind people about the class of Mahela. Not that followers of cricket have forgotten his class, but Mahela attracted undue criticism (along with Sangakkara) for the loss at Cardiff. If only Sri Lanka had got more opportunities to play tests at Eng, Aus and SA during their time, the world could have seen much more of the class of Mahela. In Mahela's case, it is apt to say that "he doesnt hit the ball, he merely persuades it to assume the direction that he intends it to". (I dont know where I read these words ;-)).

  • Nipz on June 6, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    Mike, this is very nice article.Actually i don't know why some people cross with Mahela.But he is the best Test Player for Sri Lanka. He Really like to play at Lord's.I hope he will get another 100 there. HAIL MAHELA :)

  • Anonymous on June 6, 2011, 3:14 GMT

    Sanga got the best test / first class averages, in batting, of Sri Lankans. Of course, Mahela is not far behind and almost same. Statistics will prove this without any reasonable doubt, whatsoever. If any player, continued to play well in first class or A tour matches, he got selected to represent SL. That is what happened to Marvan, after a string of ducks, in tests, as there was no body to surpass or emulate him, in those matches. On that basis, Chandimal is in the pool of the current England tour. There was no bond as such to suspect as the next best person had to be got elected particularly when he was performing well at the next level.

  • sumedh on June 6, 2011, 3:00 GMT

    @ mike

    well you cannot say sanga...has long way to go he has better averages in both ODIS and tests may be the best avg of a Sl in ODIS, He's only failure is he does not get 100s regularly in ODIS ...and that maybe due to the slowish condn of SL wicket as well.

    MAhela..was talented from birth He was to play criket and was gifted..BUt u need to equally appreciate Sangakara likes..they have worked hard in their game..and have risen to occasion The only place where Sanga is little behind Mahela is temperment and captaincy Otherwise Sanga is better.IF u think SL has to win a match..and whom do u want to be till the end u always think SANGa he is god damn more reliable!

  • Roshan on June 6, 2011, 2:08 GMT

    Very nice article Mike. Especially the paragraph "His patient hundred took up day four in as boring a way as he could manage. Which isn't all that boring: his impregnability meant that he did not wave that magic wand of a bat as often but when he did, the crystal flash lit up the gloomy grey.". This paragraph nicely highlights how Mahela, while being cautious, is still pleasant to the eye.

    Players of this caliber are a dwindling kind and I truly hope that the next generation of players balance elegance with effectiveness like Mahela and a few others have managed to do.

  • mike from Kandy SL on June 5, 2011, 19:28 GMT

    Below is the conclusion Does any one have a doubt..... we are talking about class & ability to win matches ...MAHELA.. is the greatest cricketer ever produced in Srilanka Posted by: J K Wijedasa at June 5, 2011 12:06 AM Posted by: Reza at June 5, 2011 12:38 AM Posted by: asiri at June 5, 2011 5:04 PM

    please ignore the politics - Srilankan kandyans (Kumar has long way to go) & Indian fans (Dhoni is far better than Sachin)

  • Reza on June 5, 2011, 18:43 GMT

    Dear Mike It is nice to note that despite the occasional interventions of Sachin fans the comments in this column have been quite sober and restrained. I do recall Mahela going through a lean period but fortunately the selectors persisted with him and he came good in the end. Others have not been so lucky. Of those who got a raw deal was Uvais Karnain about whom there is a short profile in Cricinfo. Anyone recall Ravi Sathasivam who played for St Thomas during the Dulip Mendis era? Did he ever play for SL? An elegant cricketer he was. Before Sanath became the Master Blaster I was privileged to watch him play a delightful innings at the Oval along with Rumesh Ratnayake in a losing cause. BUT, lets not forget we are celebrating Mahela and lets hope he will brighten the skies above the Lords when play resumes tomorrow.

  • asiri on June 5, 2011, 17:04 GMT

    Sanga is Not d Best Batsman SL has produced. Whatz his % in Scoring 100's in winning matches as well hwmany important matches has he won for us???? Ara,SJ,MJ & Dulip M r d top batters of SL

  • Balumekka on June 5, 2011, 16:08 GMT

    @Shiv kumar: This article has nothing to do with SRT. Your comment reflects your level of cognition. Please do not spoil this column as its all about Mahela. Better save your words till the Indian leg of English summer.

  • sumedh on June 5, 2011, 13:20 GMT

    well Ya Mahela...is a fine batsmen.He is classy soft to eyes..and has played significant role in raising Sl cricket..In fact I am from Nepal and a big Sl fan...His record in tests and T20s is great bcoz he knows what he has to do .But he is little shaky in ODIS....he has some great innings...LIke the two 100s in WC..and a 90 odd...against INd..along with CHandana...in a ASia cup match BUt the thing is he has in some innings taken much time to get going which has resulted..in falling of quick wickets of other younger batsmen like Kapugedera..mathews..silva etc.We all know Mahela can make it up at the end but being the senior pro he must give breather..for the youngsters..when he is at the crease..I dont mind playing albeit slow when he is with SAnga or Dilshan.

    Well for me batsmen who hav clas and play differently attract..Sachin is such obvious and much say "perfect: that hes sometimes borin Look at LAra..who hooks with bth feet up VVS LAxman who drives against the spin..such delight

  • gimhana fernando on June 5, 2011, 9:32 GMT

    @Shiv Kumar - you are biased . All Indian cricket fans say SRT's the best. Mahela is more stylish,more intelligent and to think he came from a country of a 22 million population, whereas sachin is from acountry of over 1 billion!!!!!!!!!

  • Shiv kumar on June 5, 2011, 6:43 GMT

    I think sachin is most accomplished batsman i have seen in my whole life

  • Mendis _ Forever on June 5, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    @Cannuck - completely agree with you mate.Mahela is a honest player, who walkes when he nicks.He is a proud old boy of my school,Nalanda College.Hail Mahela !!! Hail Nalanda College!!!

  • ishan on June 5, 2011, 4:10 GMT

    Really nicely written article but I believe Sangakkara is a better test batsman than Mahela and possibly the best test batsman produced by Sri Lanka.. Mahela has done well in England than Sanga but I feel in other good seaming , bouncy pitches Sanga has prevailed over Mahela with his technique.. Mahela at the start of his innings is very vulnerable against the ball moving away , but gets to his groove after that.. at the end of the day Sri Lanka is blessed that we've two world class batsmen like Mahela and Sanga in the team and lets hope they can score more and more runs in the next 3-5 years too!

  • Reza on June 5, 2011, 0:38 GMT

    Dear Mike

    Yours is a very fine piece about a very stylish, wonderful batsman- that is Mahela, not Tendulkar. There is no question of Mahela succeeding Tendulkar because Tendulkar never had a lease of the throne which you thought Mahela would inherit. As a fan of Mahela I am a bit biased though. Mahela’s innings are laced with a silky touch. Yours is not a piece about Tendulkar but you have thrown his name into the ring and one way or another one cannot avoid referring to him. The tag “Little Master” once belonged to Gundappa Viswanath. In style, Vish’s batting was closer to Mahela’s than Tendulkar’s. Tendulkar is made out of Gavaskar’s mould and like Gavaskar played for the record books. Of course his hold on the Indian cricketing imagination as well as on the IPL circus is such that even ex cricketers feel compelled to praise Tendulkar. He is a good, disciplined batsman but certainly does not deserve to be called the best. Johners of BBC used to say that Azharuddin was the man

  • J K Wijedasa on June 5, 2011, 0:06 GMT

    See how many times SRI LANKA(4TIMES) AND MAHELA(3TIMES) APPEAR!!! Highest partnerships by wicket Wkt Runs Partners Team Opposition Ground Match Date Scorecard 1st 415 ND McKenzie, GC Smith South Africa 2nd 576 ST Jayasuriya, RS Mahanama 3rd 624 KC Sangakkara, DPMD Jayawardene 4th 437 DPMD Jayawardene, TT Samaraweera 5th 405 SG Barnes, DG Bradman 6th 351 DPMD Jayawardene, HAPW Jayawardene 7th 347 DS Atkinson, CC Depeiaza 8th 332 IJL Trott, SCJ Broad 9th 195 MV Boucher, PL Symcox

  • Philip Gnana on June 4, 2011, 19:52 GMT

    Mahela is pure elegance and improvisation is out of this world. A great allround batsman in all formats. Lovely article this Mike, and indeed a tribute to a great batsman. Calm, collected and modest too. Unassuming he has that knack where people will warm to him. Hope he does get his hat trick of hundreds at Lords. It is a real shame that the Sri Lankans have not been given the opportunity to play many away games against Australia, England, SA & the WI. I am sure their overseas record would have improved if only given that chance. Will be a real shame to see him go. May be we will witness another great partnership with Sanga....Philip Gnana, Surrey

  • Cannuck on June 4, 2011, 12:45 GMT

    I am not doubting Marvan being a fantastic player, & we were lucky to have him play for SL as well as be the batting coach now. BUT the fact remains he is Arjuna's B-I-L (check it) & at the time it's concevable that is one of the main reasons he kept his place on the team. It's not like he was a bowler or an exceptional fielder to retain his place. My point is other players wouldn't have gotten that kind of consideration after so many "DUCKS". Some do not get called up even after scoring centuries! I am sure there are many MJs & Marvans who failed, never got a second look, & faded away. Kalavitigoda happens to be one of them!

  • praveena@yahoo.com on June 4, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    1000% agreed with u mike. Mahela is the most elegant batsman in the world. no argue about that. will see how he will perform in this match. hope & wish he can make hattrick in the lords turf. Praveena

  • r giridharan on June 4, 2011, 7:46 GMT

    lovely article from the author.mahela is the most unsung of heroes.In the recently concluded wc final his ton was pure silk.his ton in wc 07 was just as good. mahela figures in 3 world record partenerships in test cricket,something that sachin and lara too have not acheived.

  • Pradeep on June 4, 2011, 7:05 GMT

    I think Sanga is the best batsman we have, he faces pace better. And Aravinda is still the the best batsman we've had in or Test playing History. ( sadly M. Satha never got to play test)...but Mahela is an absolute class act. Whoa, those cover drives!!!.. @ rizwan , you're right, we're not going to see class acts like waugh, mahela and VVS again!

  • Manujer on June 4, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    Marvan got the opportunity to continue to play (after string of ducks)as he was the best batsman of the A side tours that had those days and there was no body to surpass him on all the occasions. Other than that there was no other connection. SL was lucky to happen so as he is the batting coach of SL, now due to the success he had in Australia and England where pitches help the swing bowlers. Sanga is higher than Mahela, most of the time, in the ICC test rankings. Let's hope that they will perform well in England, particularly in Test matches.

  • Cannuck on June 4, 2011, 2:51 GMT

    @Sheroz: Your comment on Kalavitagoda is very valid. He too was touted as a future prospect when he played for Nalanda College along with Mahela. It's not that he never got a chance to play for SL, but he did fail when he was given an opportunity. Sometimes a player gets only 1 or 2 chances to prove him self unless of course he has some connection or pull in the team, to be selected again & again till he proves him self. Many do not remember that Marvan had a record string of "DUCKS" in test cricket, before he finally clicked & proved how good he was. The only reason he kept his place was due to then SL Captain his future B-I-L Arjuna. Someone else like Shantha would never get that opportunity, & was unlucky that way!

  • sanjeewakaru on June 4, 2011, 1:46 GMT

    to be exactly 356 behind the follow on,THE biggest rescue Sri lanka ever achieved in any sport.Mahela is very talented,But he only have few rescue knocks like that.1.1998 in Galle vs Newzeland,2.1998 in Adilaid vs Eng ,3.2005 vs india in Dambulla(odi),4.2006 in Lords,5.2007 WC semifinal,6.2007 AT HOBART,7.WC FINAL 2011.There are many rescue innings for Aravinda de silva than mahela,even less talented Arjuna Rantunga.But Mahela has some time.He is very gifted and talented .composure in critical situation IS much more needed. Of course ,there is much more pressure than any other major batsman in the world for Mahela as if he fails only rescue for SL is Sangakkara.Finally, thank you for watching Mahela for such a long time and put those in a ARTICLE such beautiful manner.

  • Cannuck on June 4, 2011, 1:04 GMT

    Excellent tribute to a classy guy! I am always amazed at the amount of negative comments MJ attracts, not from IND fans, but our own SL fans too. Some seem to have personal grudges, while others simply do not get the elegance of a bat meeting the ball with minimum effort, yet producing the maximum results. Many negative comments come from fans who are new to cricket, or became fans since T20 came about. It is proven by their comments, expecting MJ to single handedly win matches, when this is a TEAM sport played by 11 guys. The opposite can be said about these same players who try to win single handedly as "SELFISH" players, specially if the match is lost. No one remembers his last T20 WC when he had the chance to score 2 consecutive 100s, but let Kapu attack in the last over, as he remained on 98! They also call MJ a flat track bully, simply because he's scored heavily at SSC, 7 centuries. Bradman too has 7 centuries at MCG, but I haven't heard anyone dare call him a "GREEN TOP BULLY"!

  • Rizwan on June 3, 2011, 21:03 GMT

    Lasith, the article was about the aesthetic appeal of Mahela's batting & not a comparison with others such as Aravinda/ Vensarkar.As I alluded to earlier,would you rather watch Gooch, Tendulkar,Samaraweera,Miandad,Jimmy Adams,Steve Waugh or the infinitely more stylish Gower, Laxman , Mahela , Zaheer Abbas, Lara & Mark Waugh. I still remember a flat six flicked by Gower in a match against Sri Lanka and that was the only thing I recall about that particular Test.Similarly,an inside out shot or a late late cut by Mahela is a thing of beauty. It was said of Mark Waugh, that even when he was felled with a bouncer he was more graceful than his illustrious elder brother who averaged higher . Mahela is not as bloody minded as Sangakkara but of late, has added substance to the style he has displayed ever since he started playing for Nalanda College.So let us enjoy the supreme stylist and not quibble about averages & records which our Indian friends love to tout when they discuss their players

  • Lasith on June 3, 2011, 14:13 GMT

    There is no doubt that Mahela is a classy batsman and a genuine big match player. He has proved it in 2 big world cup games.I also have no doubt that he's a great test player - his record speaks for itself.

    However, I don't see really see him as someone who can win a game singlehandedly like a Sanath/Aravinda in one day cricket. Sure he got a 80 ball century in the world cup final but later we realized what a belter of a batting wicket that was. (kind of wicket Sanath at his prime would have got a 100 in 50 balls). And if you look compare the one day records of Sanath and Mahela both average around the 32 (did not look this up recently, correct me if i'm wrong). Aravinda and Arjuna average much better, batting in the similar positions as Mahela.

    My point is, yes Mahela is classy, elegant and capable of raising his game in big games, no two about this. However, he is not the devastating batsman who can just knock the opposition out of the game on his own. (in one day cricket)

  • Mike on June 3, 2011, 13:43 GMT

    Mahela is the best stroke maker in the world cricket, @ Nuwan-when he is among runs SL always in the winning side,you don't feel that SL is winning because he is doing it in a easy way with total control with passion (don't forget that SL won the test match against SA which mahela scored 374) All the best Mahela - I'm sure you will do it in a style as always

  • CricketPissek on June 3, 2011, 12:50 GMT

    nuwan is definitely talking about a different player. maybe Mahela Udawatte? :P

    Mahela JAYAWARDENE first came to prominence scoring 167 on a Galle pitch with land mines on it! The next highest score in that innings was 35! http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63802.html The world then took notice when he came in as a replacement for the injured Aravinda in the 98/99 tour of AUSTRALIA and scored 120 chasing 303 against England in a must win match at 68-3 with Jayasuriya gone for 51 http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/65577.html Then there's the Lords test he saved in 2006 which the author has mentioned along with the World Cup Semi Final of 2007 and the Final of 2011 where he played almost the perfect ODI innings in each of those instances. If those were not innings under pressure when Sri Lanka were in trouble, what in god's name is?!

  • Nikhil on June 3, 2011, 11:25 GMT

    Good article Mike, but still disappointed for, that not even a passing reference for "Colonel" Dilip Vengsarkar, who I guess the only player to get 3 in a row at Lords. Very Bad!

  • Mat on June 3, 2011, 10:39 GMT

    Nuwan, You seems like not following Sri Lankan cricket very closely. Mahela is the most completed batsman Sri Lanka ever produced and he played under pressure number of times. 2009 semi final and 2011 final just a couple out of 100 occations. He has scored test hundreads in every country and he always done that when Sri Lanka needed him. I feel like Sri Lankans always expected more from Mahela every time when he walk in to the ground. That caused him to step down from the captaincy as well. Statistics shows Mahela is the best captain Sri lanka ever had and probably the best cricketing brain in world cricket ATM.

  • nuwan on June 3, 2011, 8:58 GMT

    good artical. But i dont think mahela as a good batsman for sri lanka. most of his scores came when sri lanka was in good positions. He has not played well when the team was in trouble. never played under pressure innings. good example is a last test match. look how he got out. most of his hundres are useless. They are individual milestones. actually he is not a match winner like sanath, aravinda or arjuna. he has to learn a lot to play as a match winner.

  • v8 on June 3, 2011, 8:17 GMT

    Nice Article Mike .. I know the words classy players & great cricketers are thrown around alot .. But in case of Mahela those seem more than appropriate.. BTW Mahela's Centuries at lords have yielded a drawn test match & a lost test match to Sri lanka .. so I think it's more fitting he Should Score a century & End up in the winning side to make the story of Mahela & Lords complete :)

    [Mike: Actually, both matches ended in draws.].

  • CricketPissek on June 3, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    I'm very much with the author as far as the perfect match being your team winning and your favourite players from the opposition doing well. I love watching KP bat, so I hope he gets a 100 but Sri Lanka gets their revenge. As a player who has been (wrongfully) labelled as a flat track bully, Mahela will be determined to go further than most subcontinent players have and get his honours board hattrick. Here's to Mahela!

    p.s. Srinivas, Can you reserve your comments for the Indian leg of the English summer please?

  • Muzahir on June 3, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    Mr. Mike's assessment about Mahela's sheer class and dominance with the bat is unbiased and a nice article. Always the Indians think they were the masters and thats why they dont like DRS system because Tendulkar and rest of the batsmen can be saved. Why majority of the test playing nations including Australia, England, Sri Lanka supports the implementation of the DRS referral but again they can win more matches without DRS threating the umpires.

    You give credit to Mr. Mike's views rather pin pointing or boasting your tendulkar. Though I respect him as a batsmen, India lose matches when he scores a hundred as he is selfish of scoring hundreds than win matches. A case in point in world cups.

  • SampathK.C on June 3, 2011, 6:46 GMT

    Dear Mike...I love one sentence which summarized the whole article.." It was probably at this point that the career trajectories of de Silva and Jayawardene crossed; from there on, Mahela became Sri Lanka's marquee batsman as Aravinda gradually faded." ....Graet Sathasivams Baton was passed from Classy Roy to classy, aggressive Aravinda..then to the crown prince Mahela..I cant think of anyone to take it from there..Cheers.

  • Sheroz on June 3, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    i really like Mahela , but my heart goes for Shantha Kalavithigoda and Pradeep Hewage who did not get the opportunity to play for lanka... who were a bit like Mahela , Shantha comes from the same school..

  • Mcnick on June 3, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    Even when he is gathering runs at a great rate in 20/20 he manages to look elegant.

  • Kushan on June 3, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    I 100% agree with you Mike. He is my most favourite player. Not only because he is prolific scorer, but because of the elegance of his shot making, and also for his personality and character.. Other than all his test recorded including that 374, i love his two ODI innings in 2007 WC Semi final and in the 2011 Final.

    All the best for him to get a huge score and may the best team wins!

  • rizwan on June 3, 2011, 0:10 GMT

    Mike , Yes , you are right , Mahela is elegance personified;pity they don't make them like the way they used to.Batsmen like Gower ,Laxman , Mahela , Zaheer Abbas, Lara, Mark Waugh who prefer to use their light bats to stroke/ caress the ball rather than bludgeon it are a treat to watch.

    As a Sri Lankan , I would love to see Mahela make a big hundred at Lords and get his name on the boards for the third time.

  • avinash on June 3, 2011, 0:08 GMT

    @faz osman...can you get dumber than you already are..???...srinivas intended to be humorous...

    [Mike: That certainly was not at all obvious.]

  • faz osman on June 2, 2011, 21:18 GMT

    At Srinivas

    Mike clearly loves the way mahela bats - the title of the article is hail mahela. And you bring up Dilip Ven--whoever?

    Oh wait ur names Srinivas..that explains it

  • srinivas on June 2, 2011, 20:07 GMT

    Dilip Vengsarkar already got hat trick of centuries at Lords which wasn't even mentioned in this article.

    [Mike: Of course I didn't mention it. Dilip Vengsarkar is of no relevance whatsoever to how much I like Mahela Jayawardene.]

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  • srinivas on June 2, 2011, 20:07 GMT

    Dilip Vengsarkar already got hat trick of centuries at Lords which wasn't even mentioned in this article.

    [Mike: Of course I didn't mention it. Dilip Vengsarkar is of no relevance whatsoever to how much I like Mahela Jayawardene.]

  • faz osman on June 2, 2011, 21:18 GMT

    At Srinivas

    Mike clearly loves the way mahela bats - the title of the article is hail mahela. And you bring up Dilip Ven--whoever?

    Oh wait ur names Srinivas..that explains it

  • avinash on June 3, 2011, 0:08 GMT

    @faz osman...can you get dumber than you already are..???...srinivas intended to be humorous...

    [Mike: That certainly was not at all obvious.]

  • rizwan on June 3, 2011, 0:10 GMT

    Mike , Yes , you are right , Mahela is elegance personified;pity they don't make them like the way they used to.Batsmen like Gower ,Laxman , Mahela , Zaheer Abbas, Lara, Mark Waugh who prefer to use their light bats to stroke/ caress the ball rather than bludgeon it are a treat to watch.

    As a Sri Lankan , I would love to see Mahela make a big hundred at Lords and get his name on the boards for the third time.

  • Kushan on June 3, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    I 100% agree with you Mike. He is my most favourite player. Not only because he is prolific scorer, but because of the elegance of his shot making, and also for his personality and character.. Other than all his test recorded including that 374, i love his two ODI innings in 2007 WC Semi final and in the 2011 Final.

    All the best for him to get a huge score and may the best team wins!

  • Mcnick on June 3, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    Even when he is gathering runs at a great rate in 20/20 he manages to look elegant.

  • Sheroz on June 3, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    i really like Mahela , but my heart goes for Shantha Kalavithigoda and Pradeep Hewage who did not get the opportunity to play for lanka... who were a bit like Mahela , Shantha comes from the same school..

  • SampathK.C on June 3, 2011, 6:46 GMT

    Dear Mike...I love one sentence which summarized the whole article.." It was probably at this point that the career trajectories of de Silva and Jayawardene crossed; from there on, Mahela became Sri Lanka's marquee batsman as Aravinda gradually faded." ....Graet Sathasivams Baton was passed from Classy Roy to classy, aggressive Aravinda..then to the crown prince Mahela..I cant think of anyone to take it from there..Cheers.

  • Muzahir on June 3, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    Mr. Mike's assessment about Mahela's sheer class and dominance with the bat is unbiased and a nice article. Always the Indians think they were the masters and thats why they dont like DRS system because Tendulkar and rest of the batsmen can be saved. Why majority of the test playing nations including Australia, England, Sri Lanka supports the implementation of the DRS referral but again they can win more matches without DRS threating the umpires.

    You give credit to Mr. Mike's views rather pin pointing or boasting your tendulkar. Though I respect him as a batsmen, India lose matches when he scores a hundred as he is selfish of scoring hundreds than win matches. A case in point in world cups.

  • CricketPissek on June 3, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    I'm very much with the author as far as the perfect match being your team winning and your favourite players from the opposition doing well. I love watching KP bat, so I hope he gets a 100 but Sri Lanka gets their revenge. As a player who has been (wrongfully) labelled as a flat track bully, Mahela will be determined to go further than most subcontinent players have and get his honours board hattrick. Here's to Mahela!

    p.s. Srinivas, Can you reserve your comments for the Indian leg of the English summer please?