SA v SL, World Cup 2015, 1st quarter-final, Sydney March 18, 2015

'Challenge has been to evolve' - Jayawardene

ESPNcricinfo staff
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After Mahela Jayawardene's final match for Sri Lanka ended in a World Cup quarter-final defeat to South Africa, he said that he would probably be allowing himself a lie-in. Jayawardene and his great friend Kumar Sangakkara were hoping for a glorious swansong in their final World Cup but neither could pull Sri Lanka out of the fire against an irresistible South Africa.

Jayawardene has already called time on his career in Tests and T20 internationals and he said afterwards that he had no regrets about hanging up his blue Sri Lanka shirt for the final time.

"I'll probably wake up a bit late tomorrow for a change," he said. "I will miss it but that's reality, you know that the time is right for you to leave and I've enjoyed every bit of it, it's been great playing with all these guys, had some great friendships - no regrets."

A famously feisty competitor, Jayawardene only managed one significant contribution at the World Cup - but that was a match-winning hundred against Afghanistan to get Sri Lanka up and running in the group stage. Having made his international debut in 1997, Jayawardene has played through a period of huge change in the game - including the introduction of T20 and the rise of video analysis - and he said that he relished the challenge of constantly trying to stay ahead.

"The hardest thing is to evolve with everything, everyday it's something new - teams developing, they always come up with something new, so for you to survive and to keep up with that you need to keep pushing yourself," he said. "I think that's the most important thing, be it mentally, physically, or trying to outsmart someone. That's been the toughest thing.

"I think enjoying that with the group of players in the dressing room, that's the most satisfying thing. Every cricketer loves spending time with his mates and going out playing cricket. The challenge has been to evolve for such a long period. From where I started in 1997, now I'm finished, the cricket has improved drastically."

Asked if he thought standards had risen, he said: "Definitely, if you take the bowlers, the variations - I don't think any of those guys, except for one or two bowlers, had that amount of variations in their armoury. Even the batsmen nowadays play so many different shots, so I think skill-wise the game has evolved. The tactics have changed, field settings have changed, the way people look at the game has changed, more analysing - people know exactly where your strengths and weaknesses are, so I think that has been fantastic."

Sri Lanka had been billed as the knockout specialists who could press South Africa's self-destruct button in Sydney but the nine-wicket margin of victory, with more than 30 overs to spare, told a different story. Jayawardene and Sangakkara had signed off in T20 by leading Sri Lanka to that title last year but there was to be no repeat of the fairytale.

"No, it's been tough, we've had a pretty good campaign so far, but we did pretty much everything wrong today," Jayawardene said. "Credit to the South Africans, they bowled really well up front, put us under pressure and we were not able to cope with that. You can't write your own scripts, we did that in the T20 World Cup but this one was too far for us."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kenneth Silva on March 22, 2015, 11:43 GMT

    Still can't believe that Sri Lanka is out of the world cup

  • Pinidiya on March 20, 2015, 11:31 GMT

    The most amazing thing is, Sanath/Marvan & Mathews had tried out every other player to open with Dilly despite repeated failures, since 2013 up to WC QF, except for putting back Tharanga, who had opened 156 ins for SL & had topped 5k+ runs in 2013 as the 2nd Fastest in SL to do so.

    Kusal was given 40 ODIs to open & miserably failed (Av 22.78), ruining SL's winning chances including TWO Global Tournaments (2015 WC & 2013 -ICC-CT) to collect a dismal 41 r @ an Av of 6.8, opening the floodgates for SL. Dimuth was given another 17 OdIs consistently, to collect just 190 runs @ 15.83 Av.

    Thiri was given 12 ODis to open & he collected 382 runs @ 34.72 Av purely riding on his luck, due to dropped dollies by slips in every inning.Tharanga, the most productive well experienced opener who had scored 4902 r as No: 1 Opener @ an Av 34.27 from 151 ins with 13 x 100 & 28 x 50s was ruthlessly RESTRICTED to just 6 hand picked solitary ODI ins, months apart during the past 20 months since July,2013.

  • Rizwan1970 on March 19, 2015, 23:57 GMT

    Sri Lanka has plenty of opportunity to test there strategies before the world cup from the time South Africa toward Sri Lanka. But match after Match they did not take trouble to do in the mind set of the condition world cup is played. Insteaded they played same team and same strategy and when there is real pressure on them in world cup quarter final they suddenly found out any of their strategies will not work with well oiled SA team and try couple of new thing which they are not familiar resulted failure. They should have try these strategies for different situation way before world cup is started.

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2015, 12:05 GMT

    true greats of SL are Sanath and Aravinda.. Sanga is a great player of Poor Bowling same way as Rohit but sanga is more consistent in doing so..

  • lancia71 on March 19, 2015, 9:56 GMT

    Mahela is one of the most over rated batsman off all time. He was a fine player but never a great. Sri lanka produced only 2 greats, Aravinda and Sanga but the former is a better player than Sanga despite having not so great average. Who can forget his innings against India in 96 world cup semifinal. I don't think Sanga was capable of doing that at any time of his carrier.

  • Surath on March 19, 2015, 4:59 GMT

    @ BLACKHAWKDOWN_TO_CRICKETFIELD: Agree with your first comment on Anji too. Lets see what he has to offer to SLC now. We NEED a good coaching team too

  • manjula on March 19, 2015, 1:16 GMT

    Thank you for entertaining SL for several years !!!!

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2015, 0:57 GMT

    33 average, no technique, losing him will work in favor of SL

  • Paul on March 18, 2015, 23:57 GMT

    How I wish all teams played with the same spirit of the Sri Lankans. They are true gentlemen and it saddens me that I may never see two greats of the game play again.