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Numbers Game

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

S Rajesh

August 15, 2014

Comments: 23 | Text size: A | A

Mahela Jayawardene made 16 scores of 150 or more in Tests, a feat bettered by only four batsmen © AFP

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).

Mahela Jayawardene's Test career
Period Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
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
2014 10 1003 59.00 3/ 5
Career 149 11,814 49.84 34/ 50
Most runs scored by batsmen in their last year* in Tests
Batsman Year Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
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
* Last calendar year

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.

Highest averages for batsmen between Jan 2006 and Dec 2010 (Qual: 3000 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
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).

Highest averages in home Tests (Qual: 4000 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
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.

Most runs at a single venue in Tests
Batsman Ground Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
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.

Most runs at No. 4 in Tests
Batsman Inngs Runs Average 100s/ 50s
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
Inzamam-ul-Haq 98 4867 52.90 15/ 21
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.

Most prolific pairs in Tests
Pair Innings Runs Ave stand 100/ 50 p'ships
Dravid-Tendulkar 143 6920 50.51 20/ 29
Jayawardene-Sangakkara 120 6554 56.50 19/ 27
Greenidge-Haynes 148 6482 47.31 16/ 26
Hayden-Langer 122 6081 51.53 14/ 28
Cook-Strauss 132 5253 40.40 14/ 21
Hayden-Ponting 76 4765 67.11 16/ 22

The home-away discrepancy

Mahela Jayawardene's Test average and centuries scored in each country: he made 23 of his 34 hundreds at home, but didn't manage any in 16 innings in South Africa © Sajan Nair/ESPNcricinfo Ltd

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.

Jayawardene, in home and away Tests
  Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Home 81 7167 59.72 23/ 34
Away 68 4647 39.71 11/ 16
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.)

Poorest averages for subcontinent batsmen in Aus, Eng, NZ, SA (Qual: 20 Tests)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
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 Twitter

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Comments: 23 
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Posted by love on (August 18, 2014, 15:20 GMT)

Thanks Mahela for your contribution for world cricket.Salute from India.

Posted by Muthuvel on (August 18, 2014, 13:59 GMT)

Truly respect Mahela,gentleman cricketer, never did anything to undermine opposition except for good cricket. Great SC bat, poor overseas bat, less skilled than Sangakara but probably more liked outside SL.

Posted by Dummy4 on (August 18, 2014, 12:51 GMT)

Out of non-subcontinental batters with 20 or more matches played in the subcontinent since Mahel's debut, only Kallis stands apart with an average of 55.62. Chanderpaul and Smith averages 49 apiece. Only other significant name in the list is Ponting who averages 43.


Posted by Kanishka on (August 17, 2014, 18:25 GMT)

@B.C.G for your information Bradman did play in asia and incidentally it was in Sri Lanka or Ceylon as it was known then though they weren't official test matches. In those days Australian and English teams used to stop over in SL before heading off for Ashes tests.

Posted by Dhanika on (August 17, 2014, 16:28 GMT)

SL is the "home" for Mahela. Similarly, Australia was the home for Bradman. Same Home / Away criteria should apply for batsman from ALL countries.

it is not right to say MJ is "home star", just because he did not performed in so called better countries, outside sub-continent. if you look at the performance in Asian sub-continent by most of Aus & Eng or SA players, records will be the same.

Each and every country has it's own playing conditions. We cannot say one is better than the other OR one is tougher than the other. Its just different to each other. in the sub-continent conditions are also another challenge, which the players from outside should master.

Well-done MJ for being such an inspiration to many generations, past & present and the future. you were the best captain SL ever had. it was a good 17 years to watch !

Posted by ravi on (August 17, 2014, 13:13 GMT)

Great player & Great Captain. It is sad that we are going to miss him in future. I always appreciated his big match temperament. Right time to retire. My best wishes to him. I am not sure how SL is going to accommodate his gap. I don't see anybody near to his class. SL at present struggling to find a proper no 5. Now all depends on Sangakara.

Posted by Phillip on (August 17, 2014, 8:19 GMT)

@SLSup-Bradman didn't get a chance to play in Asia.Mahela got chances to play everywhere & FLOPPED.

Posted by Dummy4 on (August 16, 2014, 10:42 GMT)

thank you mahela for your contribution for toS.L. CRICKET.

happt retirement

Posted by Dummy4 on (August 16, 2014, 6:40 GMT)

Out of those 148.5 innings, he was a walker. no poker face given when nicked just walked irrespective of the match condition or how bad he was given out previously, such virtues need to be highlighted and respected.

Posted by c on (August 16, 2014, 3:48 GMT)

Anang Kumar: according to your standards Bradman wasn't a great batsman either because he scored ALL his runs in conditions on home conditions. He literally scored nearly 70% of his run in AUS! Unless, of course, now you come back and say only cricket played OUTSIDE of the Sub Continent counts! Haha.

TheKeeper. Sanjay Majrekar was quite elegant. So was Mark Waugh. Neither has an average worth comparing with others but they are both MEMORABLE because of their ELEGANCE. In fact, when I saw Sanjay play I used to wonder if SL will ever produce a batsman of such elegance. SL did in the form of Mahela.

AltaPatel: it appears your idea of "sporting conditions" don't include the Sub Continent pitches. Haha. Don't include that in your stand-up skit.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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