Jayawardene retires from Test cricket August 13, 2014

'Mahela an unbelievable team man' - Mathews


Play 02:43
'Mahela great support for youth' - Mathews

Of all the cricketers who have appeared for Sri Lanka since 2011, no one has known a dressing room without Mahela Jayawardene. He is the last link to a less professional era, and to Arjuna Ranatunga's captaincy. He has played more Tests than any other Sri Lanka cricketer.

As the SSC readies for his farewell, captain Angelo Mathews said the emotions had begun to run high in his camp, for a player whose value far outstripped the 11,756 runs he has scored, and the 202 catches he has held.

"We can't do his service justice with words. As a team we're very sad he's retiring. The best thing we can do is play well in this match and win it for Mahela," Mathews said. "There are so many things we will miss. He is a real fighter. If you go into a warm-up match with him, he'll still try to fight and win. That's the kind of character that he is, and he's an unbelievable player.

"He's not into personal milestones. If you look at Test matches this is going to be his 149th Test. He could have played one more Test and retired, if he went for his personal milestones. He's been an unbelievable team man, and he'll do whatever the team wants him to do and bat wherever the team needs him. I'm very happy to have a guy like Mahela in the team."

Jayawardene was Mathews' first national captain when he arrived in the top team in 2008, and has since been a formative influence as captain. Jayawardene's primary reason for giving up captaincy in early 2013 was to allow Mathews a bedding-in period as captain while he, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan remained in the side.

"Mahela still he helps me a lot with tactics," Mathews said. "He's very smart in his thinking, and he's shown that in the past when he's captain as well. He's not afraid to let me know when I have to do something. He gives so many options. He puts options on the table and he's the most senior guy in the team, and we're going to miss him so much. Up to now he has supported me right throughout from day one, and I'm really thankful to him for that.

"That's the kind of characters that we want in the team, regardless of whether it's a senior or a junior, I want people to come up to me and give their ideas, so that we can all put our thoughts together and try and pick the best one. Mahela contributes immensely, and he's been a pillar of strength to us."

Among Jayawardene's hallmarks as captain was his support of young players, who were given more respect and responsibility in the side than young players in previous generations had been afforded. Mathews has taken a similar approach in his 19 months at the helm, as he seeks to build a young team.

"Mahela treats the younger guys very specially," Mathews said. "He tries to teach them whatever they do wrong, to try and correct them. A lot of the youngsters, including me, have learned a lot from him. It will take a long time to replace Mahela, because he's the kind of player that comes around very rarely."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cric on August 16, 2014, 3:23 GMT

    He is an history maker for Srilankan cricket scoring more than 50000 runs in all type of cricket, domestic and international. He had scored more than 22000 runs in test and ODIs. SL would miss him long in the future.

  • Dan on August 15, 2014, 14:24 GMT

    @ malindasameera: I do accept the SJ's captaincy record on stats look more pleasing than MJ's but MJ belongs to a class that SJ would never dreamt of reaching. More than his brains, I think SJ had his lady luck favouring him unconditionally throughout his captaincy where he single handedly bat or bowl an opposition out to win matches & major trophies. However, I do not believe he had a great mentoring effect & tactical effect on juniors. Apart from that, SJ's sudden thirst for politics & tried to get the political influence to his survival would have discounted him of having a proper farewell. Hence, MJ deserved to be farewelled

  • Android on August 15, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    A great son of sri lanka cricket. we will miss you..

  • ESPN on August 15, 2014, 8:44 GMT

    Wow! Retiring in his 149th match. How selfless is that!

  • Dummy4 on August 15, 2014, 6:42 GMT

    He is a good player. He plays aesthetic drives. His records speak for himself. Could have been one of the greatest players had he scored more runs outside of subcontinent in test matches. This is where Sanga excels.

  • Nalin on August 14, 2014, 14:56 GMT

    The greatest thing in Mahela is that he would walk out if he knows that he nicked a ball to the keepers gloves without waiting for the umpires decision. The opposite of my names shake!

  • malinda on August 14, 2014, 14:55 GMT

    Sanath jayasuriya didnt get such farewell.. how did mahela get such...his odi averege is much similer to sanath 32 plus and test average much better.but he is not averaging 50 though..like great players...sanath 40.07 and mahela 49 plus.. but sanath had over 300 odi wickets and 98 test wicket..when comparing captancy record statically sanath has better record...but he didnt get farewell.not even in oneday format..can some one tell why sanath didnt get farewell like mahela.....?????

  • Lakshminarayanan on August 14, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    The best strategic player in the current world of Cricket. He has done tremendous contribution to his team while captaining the side and even after came down as Captain, he supported Sanga and now Mathews. I feel Mahela loss will be great as much more as than Muralidharan, because Mahela's influence is across the match from the start to end. He gave every thing to win the 2007 & 2011 WC, but opposite team had overcome that.. But T20 WC 2012 win came at this kissing case for him. His WC 2015 will be his last reach to cricket. Hope he will give everything for that and try to achieve it. Hats Off Mahela, though I am an Indian, I am one of the true followers of your Cricket Contributions.

  • Daison on August 14, 2014, 11:26 GMT

    'Mahela an unbelievable team man' - Come on Mathews, what has he done that you cant believe him?

  • Bhaskar on August 14, 2014, 9:34 GMT

    Most of his runs were at home grounds in doctored pitches but he was a real bulwark in asia. We will miss you Mahela, you are like Ponting on conducive pitch scoring. Ponting was also good only on pace pitches, he was not even half good in Asia, same goes to Mahela when he is out of Asia. Despite all this, he is the only player worth watching in Sri Lankan cricket nowadays.

  • No featured comments at the moment.