ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features
Big hundreds, a home superstar, and much more
Mahela Jayawardene had his problems overseas, but in home conditions he was outstanding, and for Sri Lanka he was a constant at No. 4 for 17 years
August 15, 2014
All stats have been updated to include the ongoing Sri Lanka-Pakistan Test at the SSC.
Perhaps the biggest compliment to Mahela Jayawardene the Test cricketer is the fact that even his immense numbers don't do full justice to the grace, skill and elegance with which he played the game. For sure, there were weaknesses in his game, and his record across conditions weren't as even and consistent as some of the other greats, but even so when he was on song he played a brand of cricket that was irresistible. And then there was Jayawardene the innovative captain, under whom Sri Lanka won 18 Tests, the joint-highest they've won under any leader.
The stats by themselves are extremely impressive, though. Over a 17-year Test career, Jayawardene has scored 11,814 runs, which puts him in seventh position in the all-time list of highest aggregates in Test cricket. His 34 centuries puts him in joint sixth position, level with Sunil Gavaskar and Brian Lara. And only seven cricketers have played more Tests than Jayawardene's 149 in their career. What's slightly jarring, though, is a career average that is marginally short of 50: Jayawardene needed 94 runs from two completed innings in his final Test to finish with an average of 50, but he ended 36 short, even though he scored 54 in his last innings (which, incidentally, was his 50th Test score between 50 and 99). Jayawardene ended with a career average of 49.84, becoming the highest run-getter to finish with a Test average between 49 and 50. (Inzamam-ul-Haq scored 8830 runs at 49.60, while Virender Sehwag made 8586 at 49.34.)
Given the way his career has panned out, it's perhaps fitting that Jayawardene's debut Test was one in which all sorts of batting records were created. Sri Lanka amassed 952 for 6 against India at the Premadasa Stadium in August 1997 - the highest Test total - and Jayawardene's modest contribution of 66 was the ninth-highest score of the match. (Nine out of 17 players who batted in that match scored at least 65.) The match average of 106.35 runs per wicket remains the third-highest in a Test.
Jayawardene didn't get too many in his second Test, also against India, but the next time he played them, in the Asian Test Championship in 1999, he demonstrated his appetite for big scores, getting 242 in Sri Lanka's total of 485. (The second-highest score in the innings was, incidentally, 66.) He had also scored 167 against New Zealand a few months earlier, thus clearly establishing his ability to bat long periods, an aspect that remained his strength throughout his career: only four batsmen (Tendulkar, Lara, Bradman, Sangakkara) have more 150-plus scores than Jayawardene's 16, while three have made more double-hundreds than Jayawardene's seven.
After his first 25 Tests, Jayawardene had a healthy Test average of 44.02, but all four of his Test hundreds were at home. He came close overseas, scoring 98 in his first Test innings in South Africa in the Boxing Day Test in 2000, but that was to remain his highest Test score - and his only half-century - in that country: in 15 further innings, he could never go beyond 45.
Between 2001 and 2005, Jayawardene's Test average crept up to almost 50, but his best phase in Tests was between 2006 and 2010, when he scored 15 centuries in 42 Tests, including hundreds in Australia and England. The runs dried up between 2011 and 2013, but the last year was memorable, as Jayawardene notched up 1003 runs at an average of 59. His aggregate is the second highest for batsmen in their last calendar year in Test cricket - only Don Bradman, whose last Test also started on August 14, has scored more (1025 in eight Tests at an average of 113.88, in 1948).
|Till 2000||25||1673||44.02||4/ 8|
|Jan 2001 to Dec 2005||49||3633||49.76||9/ 19|
|Jan 2006 to Dec 2010||42||4221||63.95||15/ 11|
|Jan 2011 to Dec 2013||23||1284||29.86||3/ 7|
|Don Bradman||1948||8||1025||113.88||5/ 2|
|Mahela Jayawardene||2014||10||1003||59.00||3/ 5|
|Carl Hooper||2002||12||896||49.77||3/ 3|
|John Reid||1965||13||871||36.29||1/ 6|
|Darren Lehmann||2004||12||803||40.15||2/ 6|
|Simon Katich||2010||9||796||46.82||2/ 5|
The peak years
During the five years from the beginning of 2006 to the end of 2010, when Jayawardene was at the peak of his game, he was clearly among the best batsmen in the world. With a 3000-run cut-off, only Sangakkara had a better average, and the two of them were the only batsmen with averages of more than 60. Jayawardene's conversion rate was also outstanding: out of 26 50-plus scores, 15 were hundreds.
|Kumar Sangakkara||41||4422||71.32||16/ 16|
|Mahela Jayawardene||42||4221||63.95||15/ 11|
|Jacques Kallis||49||4225||56.33||16/ 17|
|Sachin Tendulkar||50||4209||56.12||15/ 18|
|Virender Sehwag||47||4350||54.37||12/ 17|
|VVS Laxman||50||3553||53.02||7/ 26|
|Michael Clarke||48||3625||51.05||12/ 16|
|Hashim Amla||47||3774||50.32||12/ 18|
Giant at home
Perhaps the stat that stands out more than any other for Jayawardene is his record at home: in 81 Tests in Sri Lanka, he scored 7167 runs at an average of 59.72, with 23 hundreds; 61% of his total Test runs were scored at home, where he played 54% of his Tests. Only two batsmen - Tendulkar and Ponting - have scored more Test runs at home, while Jayawardene's 23 centuries is joint-highest, with Ponting and Jacques Kallis. However, both Kallis and Ponting have played more home Tests than Jayawardene.
With a 4000-run cut-off, five batsmen have better averages than him, while an equal number have higher averages in home wins than Jayawardene's 70.29 (with a 2000-run cut-off). Nineteen out of 23 times, when he scored a century in a home Test, Sri Lanka either won or drew the game. His four centuries in losses were all small ones: 101, 104 and 105 (twice).
|Don Bradman||33||4322||98.22||18/ 10|
|Garry Sobers||44||4075||66.80||14/ 12|
|Kumar Sangakkara||71||6552||63.61||22/ 23|
|Michael Clarke||52||4519||61.90||16/ 13|
|Javed Miandad||60||4481||61.38||14/ 17|
|Mahela Jayawardene||81||7167||59.72||23/ 34|
|Brian Lara||65||6217||58.65||17/ 26|
|Shivnarine Chanderpaul||76||5825||58.25||18/ 30|
With such imposing numbers at home, it's hardly a surprise that he was also had some outstanding stats at home venues. In 27 Tests at the SSC in Colombo, he has scored 2921 runs at an average of 74.89; in 23 Tests in Galle, he has an aggregate of 2382 runs at 70.05 - they are the two highest aggregates by any batsman at a venue in Test cricket. His 11 hundreds at the SSC is also a record for a single ground - Bradman has nine at the SCG - as is his six 150-plus scores at the venue.
|Mahela Jayawardene||SSC, Colombo||27||2921||74.89||11/ 9|
|Mahela Jayawardene||Galle||23||2382||70.05||7/ 12|
|Kumar Sangakkara||SSC, Colombo||21||2231||76.93||8/ 6|
|Jacques Kallis||Newlands, Cape Town||22||2181||72.70||9/ 9|
|Graham Gooch||Lord's||21||2015||53.02||6/ 5|
|Kumar Sangakkara||Galle||21||1808||54.78||7/ 7|
|Ricky Ponting||Adelaide Oval||17||1743||60.10||6/ 6|
|Don Bradman||MCG||11||1671||128.53||9/ 3|
Next to Tendulkar at No. 4
In terms of aggregate, only Tendulkar scored more Test runs than him at No. 4. Jayawardene's 9509 runs at that slot constitutes 80% of his career runs, with Kallis being the only other player (apart from Tendulkar) to score 9000-plus runs at No. 4. The drop after that - in terms of aggregate - is steep: Lara is next with 7535 runs. Out of the 34 centuries he has scored in his career, 30 were at No. 4 - there were two each at No. 3 and No. 5 - including a special innings in Galle against England in 2012, when he scored 180 out of a team total of 318; the next-highest score in the innings was 27. The percentage of 56.6 of the team score is the fifth-highest for Sri Lanka in a completed Test innings, and, quite fittingly, the highest in a home Test.
|Sachin Tendulkar||275||13,492||54.40||44/ 58|
|Mahela Jayawardene||195||9509||52.24||30/ 35|
|Jacques Kallis||170||9033||61.86||35/ 36|
|Brian Lara||148||7535||51.25||24/ 31|
|Javed Miandad||140||6925||54.10||19/ 31|
|Mark Waugh||170||6662||42.43||16/ 39|
|Kevin Pietersen||139||6490||48.43||19/ 27|
|Gundappa Viswanath||124||5081||43.05||12/ 31|
|Martin Crowe||106||4841||49.39||16/ 16|
The partnership with Sangakkara
Over the last several years, Sri Lanka haven't had to bother about two positions in their batting line-up, since Sangakkara and Jayawardene have locked up the one-down and two-down slots. The pair have batted together 120 times, and scored 6554 runs, which is second in the all-time list, after Dravid-Tendulkar combination. However, the Sri Lankan pair have a better average than the others in the top five, scoring 56.50 runs per completed partnership. Their 624-run stand against South Africa at the SSC (where else?) remains the highest partnership for any wicket in Tests, and a record that is unlikely to be broken any time soon.
|Pair||Innings||Runs||Ave stand||100/ 50 p'ships|
The home-away discrepancy
Among all the glittering stats, the one aspect that isn't quite top-class are his stats away from home, especially outside the subcontinent. Outside Asia he averaged 34.50; outside Asia and excluding Zimbabwe he averaged 32.75. The biggest problems have been Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa, countries where Jayawardene's tendency to push outside off with an angled bat were exposed. In 31 Tests in these four countries, Jayawardene averages 31.66, with four hundreds in 60 innings. Thirty times in those 60 innings he has been dismissed before 20; seven of his 15 ducks have come in these 31 Tests, while the other eight have spanned 117 Tests that haven't been played in these four countries.
|In Aus, Eng, NZ, SA||31||1868||31.66||4/ 7|
Jayawardene's average of 31.66 is among the poorest for specialist batsmen from the subcontinent who've played at least 20 Tests in these four countries. With these qualifications, only three - Sanath Jayasuriya, Imran Farhat and Mudassar Nazar - have poorer averages. Not far from Jayawardene in this list is Virender Sehwag, who averaged 33.11 from 29 Tests in these four countries. At the other end of the list is Tendulkar (51.30) and Dravid (49.48), while Sangakkara has healthy stats too, averaging 45.31 in these four countries. That, in many ways, has been the main difference in the careers of two of Sri Lanka's best batsmen. (For a full list of subcontinent batsmen with the 20-Test cut-off, click here.)
|Sanath Jayasuriya||25||1177||26.15||2/ 3|
|Imran Farhat||26||1268||26.41||1/ 6|
|Mudassar Nazar||27||1081||27.02||1/ 5|
|Mahela Jayawardene||31||1868||31.66||4/ 7|
|Hashan Tillakaratne||20||1061||32.15||3/ 4|
|Virender Sehwag||29||1788||33.11||4/ 6|
|Ravi Shastri||21||1001||33.36||3/ 1|
|Dilip Vengsarkar||37||2014||34.72||4/ 10|
The captaincy trick
Apart from all these batting numbers, Jayawardene also had another arrow in his quiver - that of captaincy, which he handled with a lot of flair. In the 38 Tests when he led Sri Lanka, they won 18 matches and lost 12, a captaincy record which was identical with Jayasuriya's record as captain - they are the two captains who've led Sri Lanka to the highest number of Test wins. Under Jayawardene, though, Sri Lanka won more often outside the subcontinent, winning one Test each in England, New Zealand and the West Indies.
Where Jayawardene also did much better than Jayasuriya as captain was in taking care of his own batting during that period: Jayasuriya averaged 36.89 in the 38 Tests when he was captain; Jayawardene did much better, averaging 59.10, with 14 centuries in 38 matches. Among the 39 captains who've led in at least 20 Tests, only two - Bradman and Misbah-ul-Haq - have better averages.
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on TwitterFeeds: S Rajesh
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