England v Sri Lanka, 2nd ODI, Headingley July 1, 2011

Jayawardene shows Cook the way, with no sympathy

A perfectly paced one-day innings set up Sri Lanka's victory and opening could now be Jayawardene's role for a while

Before the second one-day international, Mahela Jayawardene said he had sympathy for Alastair Cook as he tries to find his feet as England's captain. However, there was none of that sentiment on show at Headingley as Jayawardene ensured Cook was pushed to his limits in the field by a majestic career-best 144. It is a mark of the longevity of his career that Jayawardene set a new high 11 years after his previous best made in 2000.

And he could go on for a while longer yet. At 34 - a spring chicken compared to the now-retired Sanath Jayasuriya - he could carry on batting for at least another four years if the hunger remains and 10,000 runs in both formats is within touching distance. If he carries on as long as Jayasuirya a whole mountain of milestones are still his for the taking, but in a volatile set-up such as Sri Lanka it's always possible that a player may decide to quit sooner than expected. Jayawardene must be savoured while he's around.

He struggled during the Test series, which was a surprise because, with a pair of Lord's hundreds in 2002 and 2006, he was the one Sri Lanka batsman to arrive with an impressive record in England. However, since the change to one-day cricket he has looked much like his normal self. Either side of being lbw to James Anderson for 5 at The Oval, which has happened to many batsmen, he has toyed with the English bowling in the Twenty20 at Bristol and now at Headingley.

"We all had a chat after The Oval about what our roles were and our plans," Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain, said, "We said one of either myself, Sanga or Mahela had to bat a long time and Mahela did a great job. That's why we got 300."

Being on the end of a Sri Lankan hundred in Leeds is not a new feeling for England. In 2006 their whitewash was completed when Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga added 286 for the first wicket. Three England players survived from that day - Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan - and yesterday Bresnan was asked about his memories of his two overs for 29. He played down the impact, of course, but the home side probably wouldn't mind not having a one-dayer here next time Sri Lanka visit.

On that occasion the damage to England's bowlers was done largely by brute force, but it was difficult to remember anything approaching violence from Jayawardene in his innings. Yet the results were just as impressive for Sri Lanka. It was much the same story with his elegant hundred in the World Cup final which, purely as an innings, didn't deserve to finish on the losing side. In fact, the most anger he showed at any point was a momentary confrontation with Jade Dernbach who, Jayawardene felt, had tried to get in his way.

Jayawardene's final score of 144 actually sits behind Jayasuriya's 152 on this ground in 2006 and Viv Richards' 189 at Old Trafford as the third-highest score against England on their home soil. As he has shown many times in one-day - and Twenty20 - cricket there is more than one way to build a limited-overs innings. He had his luck by being dropped at slip by Graeme Swann on 7 but was experienced enough to allow the opening bowlers a few tight overs before opening up as the innings progressed.

It was only the seventh time in his 343-match career that Jayawardene had opened the batting but he now has three hundreds in that position. In this series Upul Tharanga is absent due to serving a doping ban and Jayasuriya has now retired after the opening match. However, as Jayawardene has shown in Twenty20 cricket, it's a position that fits well with his natural game of building an innings and he is likely to get the job on a more full-time capacity.

"We are looking to have Mahela open for us on a permanent basis," Dilshan said. "But he wants to play for another three or four years so may need to be rested for some matches which means we'll need to rotate players. We have about four openers who we can rotate which will allow us to give other people a chance."

Jayawardene hit 14 boundaries but didn't clear the ropes, a clear sign of how progressing at a run-a-ball can be achieved by manipulating the field. Cook, who is trying to develop as a one-day opener, should keep a copy of this innings as reassurance of how traditional batting still has an important role to play. At the moment, though, the England captain will be hoping he doesn't get another first-hand example in this series.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Gaurav on July 3, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    @Sendoh- Well i dont endorse the comments of Sehwagologist at all,most of the Indian fans respect Srilankan team and their legends.But it was irrelevant to bring India in the articles related to SL and England by Herath UK .About your comment that India cannot win outside subcontinent against quality sides, i would like to mention that India won test series in England, NZ,WI and recent 1-1 against SA in SA, also we won CB series in Australia where other two sides were SL and Aus which are top quality sides,no disrespect meant here.BTW Jayawardhane is amongst the top players like Sachin,Dravid,Sanga,Inzamam,Kallis and Ponting ,not just Indian fans but whole world knows that. This article is not about India, its about SL and England,so well played SL and all the best for rest of series.PEACE.

  • Yaan on July 3, 2011, 5:00 GMT

    @purple-haze: It's hilarious when a person commenting on another's incorrect use of English, himself makes mistakes and doesn't know the difference between it's and its. By the way both SL and Indian fans make mistakes, not only Sri Lankans and to be honest, it's quite understandable since their first language is not English.

  • Nilansh on July 2, 2011, 19:21 GMT

    Frankly speaking, I'm bored with this constant bickering between Indians and SL cricket fans. People like Sehwagologist start it, and then all hell breaks loose. 20-odd Sri Lankans try to trash him by declaring the superiority of their team in their trademark broken English. The word-war continues, and we are treated with a variety of weird logic, ridiculous assumptions, strange allegations and usual mud-slinging at each other. Its hilarious at times and quite irritating too occasionally. And what's with the habit of blaming the IPL for everything bad that's happening in the world? You see, nobody forces these players to go and play in the IPL. Its the money that draws them in. The BCCI is rich, you gotta accept that. If you can pay your players as much as they earn playing in the IPL and you can convince them not to go play in it, fine. Otherwise its no use moping about it. But obviously SL are failing miserably at that, because I see a Malinga retiring from tests to play in the IPL.

  • Srilal on July 2, 2011, 19:18 GMT

    Mahela-"flat track bully"- 2 centuries at lords.

    Tendulka - greatest batsman in the world - highest score at Lords - 37 Need we say more?

  • Dru on July 2, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    I see the familiar fanatical reactions to India/Sachin ETC but let me stay focused on the article - some of you need to develop this basic concept befor commenting. Mahela reminds us all that traditional cricketing skiils are still hard to beat. Its obviously great to watch Gayle/Sewag/Pathan blast the ball to all corners but there is something special abuot watching the traditional batting skills excel at the limited over game like Mahela or Sachin or Ponting. The skill level seems so much higher than just simply hammering the ball with brute power. Its a bit like Rugby league and Rugby union.

  • Dilsanda on July 2, 2011, 16:50 GMT

    Mahela is a Good Opening Batsman.But,I feel Upul Tharanga should be used as the opener from the Aussie Series(When Upul is back after suspension) with Dilshan. MJ should bat @ 3 and Sanga @ 5, and hope Chandimal can establish during this Series, so that he can bat @ 4.Kandamby Should be out, & Angelo & Jeewan to follow.When Angi is fully fit to Bowl, this batting order could well balance the team very well with 2 good all-rounders.Also it would be bettter for SL cricket future that Upul/Angi/Chandimal & Jeewan are stabilised & experienced at International level when Sanga/Mahela & Dilshan quits in another 2 or 3 years

  • Sulaimaan on July 2, 2011, 14:48 GMT

    @Sehwagologist before commenting on SL and how India is going to perform in Eng, I'd suggest you take a look at the Indian performance in WI first.about Kohli, he looked like having metal fittings on himself while facing the mediocre WI bowling attack. He'll be praising the selectors for not selecting him for the Eng test matches.

  • Yaan on July 2, 2011, 14:20 GMT

    @Sehwagologist: We have Mathews who is 10 times better than Kohli. Kohli is struggling against WI and can only perform in India. Mathews is a genuine allrounder. (note the term 'genuine') and in his short time has become one of SL's main pillars. It is like SL can have 7 batsmen and 5 bowlers (altogether 12) because of Mathews. These are not my words but of cricket commentators most notably Tony Greg and Ian Chappell. Mathews was the engineer of the MCG miracle and has a good temperment. What about Kohli? Ill tempered and is yet to be a proven match winner.

  • Yaan on July 2, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    @Sehwagologist: "any novice cricket lover can tell u its bowling attack which wins match" Maybe thatrs why India cannot win outside the subcontinent against quality sides

  • manjitha on July 2, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    Yes I agree with Sanga_N_Mahiya. Just ignore them. Specially ppl who comment everywhere. Coming back to the article again, yes it was a wonderful century from a master batsman. His england record shows that he isn't a flat track bully, but a high class player.

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