Elegance beyond numbers
Since the 1996 World Cup triumph, Sri Lanka have been one of the most consistent ODI teams reaching one World Cup semi-final and two more finals. They owe much of their success in the format to an array of outstanding fast-scoring batsmen starting with Aravinda de Silva and Sanath Jayasuriya. In the last decade, Sri Lanka's batting stats have been dominated by the classy Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. Jayawardene, who today became the second Sri Lanka batsman after Jayasuriya and the ninth overall to cross 10,000 runs in ODIs, is also Sri Lanka's highest run-getter in Tests. After making his debut in 1998, Jayawardene has played much of his career in the middle order. Although he has continued to average in the mid thirties, a recent resurgence in form in the last two years has seen his average rise to around 45 since the beginning of 2010.
A comparison of the six Sri Lanka batsmen to cross 7000 runs is an interesting exercise. Jayasuriya and de Silva were extremely attacking players who came to the fore in the 1996 World Cup. Both of them scored their runs at a fast clip with Jayasuriya in particular boasting a strike rate in excess of 90. Marvan Atapattu, who opened the innings with Jayasuriya for much of his career, was the ideal foil to the aggressive left-hander. Atapattu, who has the second-highest average among the players in the 7000-run group, had a low strike rate of just over 67. Jayawardene and Sangakkara, who have been the core batsmen in the Sri Lankan line-up for the last six years, also have averages in a similar range with the former having a slightly higher strike rate.
|Aravinda de Silva||308||9284||34.90||81.13||11/64|
Jayawardene averages nearly 57 in the last two World Cups, but this masks the horror shows in the 1999 and 2003 tournaments. In those two World Cups, Jayawardene scored just 123 runs in 11 innings and hit rock bottom in the 2003 World Cup when he managed just 21 runs in seven innings. However, in the 2007 World Cup, he demonstrated excellent consistency and scored a brilliant match-winning century in the semi-final against New Zealand. In the 2011 tournament that was played in the subcontinent, Jayawardene produced a masterly display in the final against India but Sri Lanka were unable to defend a competitive score. Overall, in global tournaments, Jayawardene averages higher than he has in bilateral series. In the Australian tri series, he has been below par scoring just one century in 36 matches at an average under 34. On a whole though, his performances in tournament semi-finals and finals have generally been good with an average of 39.19 with two centuries and eight half-centuries.
|Type of series/tournament||Matches||Runs||Average||SR||100/50|
|Tri series (Australia)||36||1121||33.96||80.18||1/10|
|World Cup/Champions Trophy||51||1549||37.78||86.43||3/9|
Jayawardene, predominantly a middle-order batsman, has opened the innings ten times performing particularly well. As an opener, he has scored more than 600 runs at an average of 61.80 with three centuries. His strike rate of 93.49 is also well above his career mark of 77.68. In the early part of his career, he played in the lower middle order (No. 5-8) and struggled with his average hovering around the 25 mark. However, Jayawardene has proved to be most prolific at No.4. He has batted 178 times at No.4 scoring nearly 60% of his career runs at an average of 35.88 with seven centuries and 41 fifties.
Like most Sri Lanka batsmen, Jayawardene has found the going tough in matches played outside home. While he averages just 31.80 in ODIs in Australia, his struggles have been exemplified in South Africa and New Zealand where he has averaged 21.52 and 17.45 respectively. He has done well in India and Sri Lanka scoring seven of his 15 centuries in the two countries. Surprisingly, Jayawardene has found the going tough in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe too averaging just 31.40 and 18.08. However, he has tasted success in matches in England where he averages 43.80 with three centuries.
Although Jayawardene is one of only nine batsmen to amass 10,000 runs in ODIs, his average is not on par with most others in the group. Sachin Tendulkar, who is far ahead of all batsmen in terms of runs and centuries, has an even distribution of centuries and a comparable average home and away. Ricky Ponting, the second-highest run-getter, has an excellent average of 44.13 in away games. Inzamam-ul-Haq's home and away numbers indicate a very large disparity. While he averages 56.80 at home, he has managed only 36.86 in away matches. His centuries-to-fifties ratio is also very low (10:83) as compared to most others in the group. Jayawardene, in contrast to the others, averages just over 35 in home matches and 32.64 in away matches. His strike rate at No.4 (76.34) is marginally better than the overall strike rate for that position in ODIs since 2000 (75.41).
* Away stats include matches played in neutral venues
|Batsman||Matches/Runs (home)||Avg/SR (home)||100/50 (home)||Matches/Runs (a/n)||Avg/SR (a/n)||100/50 (a/n)|