Jayawardene retires from Test cricket August 17, 2014

A fitting swansong for Jayawardene

Mahela Jayawardene's farewell innings was not his most fluent, but at the end of it all, there was no wistful lingering or sentimentality - just a typically restrained acknowledgement of an exhilarating ride
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Giles: Jayawardene was a run-accumulator who drove you to despair

The farewell innings had not been perfect. At times in his career a Mahela Jayawardene hundred seemed almost inevitable at the SSC, but throughout his stay at the crease on day three and four, he was some way from his fluent best.

Still, he had endeavoured to deliver most of his vintage shots, mostly on day three. He had cover-driven Wahab Riaz, late cut Abdur Rehman and slog-swept Saeed Ajmal. The upper cut, the on-drive and the inside-out shot over cover had all been played with success, too.

Having gone to stumps yesterday on 49, an expectant crowd had come on a cloudy day to watch him make 50 at the very least. He defended his first four balls of the morning, then paddle-swept the fifth for four to reach the milestone. The crowd was on its feet. Firecrackers went off for well over a minute. But in the middle, Jayawardene had acknowledged the applause with typical restraint.

Moments earlier, Sangakkara had hit the two runs the pair had required to complete their 19th hundred-run stand, and, if nothing else, the SSC saw its heroes meet each other mid-pitch one final time for that familiar soul-brother handshake.

Sangakkara was out first on Sunday, and he waved his bat as he left the field - unusual, because he had scored only 58. Was he acknowledging the end of the great alliance with his friend? They finish second on the all-time list for batting pairs with 6554 runs together, but their average of 56.5 together is comfortably the highest among batting pairs who have made more than 5000.

But was Sangakkara saying goodbye to more than just his partnership with Jayawardene? With no Tests in Sri Lanka for almost a year, home crowds may have seen the last of him with the bat, too.

Jayawardene's last act with the bat brought a hush from those who had come to watch him, but in many ways, the end fit the man. Saeed Ajmal has dismissed him more than any other bowler in Tests. He was also getting substantial turn and bounce, removing Sangakkara in his previous over. But for 17 years, Jayawardene has had an incurable itch to attack; to dominate the bowling, often when the odds were stacked against him.

On 54, Jayawardene danced out of his crease for one final time, aimed a stroke over mid-on, and mistimed it, having not got to the pitch of the delivery. Ahmed Shehzad tracked the skied ball from midwicket, before completing a tumbling catch around mid-on.

There was no wistful lingering, no sentimental hanging around. Jayawardene walked off the field as the SSC rose to its feet. Only in the last 20 paces before crossing the rope did he raise his bat, and soak up the applause for one final time as a Test batsman. For the crowd, and for the man, the last 17 years had been some ride.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RoshJ on August 17, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    A Warrior.. gallant in gear, yet one so petite .. Battles fought, wars won..in the cricketing field. Not with anger, hatred nor trickery.. But with skills, humanity and a smiling face….a class act! Mahela, you are now the yesteryear's Picasso, Beethoven and Tagore of cricket… SLAUTE to a great cricketer, fighter, champion and most of all a great human being!

  • CricketChat on August 18, 2014, 13:09 GMT

    Mahela's last inning typified both mental and physical state that he was in as far as tests are concerned. Body unable to match mind's demands. I am reminded of Sachin's last innings which was also in similar vein. Right time for MJ to walk away. Great career, big heart and a great leader. Not many can tick off all those qualities. Hopefully, he will finish ODI career with WC win next year!

  • dhanuhskaS on August 18, 2014, 11:33 GMT

    @Lenard_Fernando: I agree, in SL we definitely need a proper change in our VISION before MISSION... to give due credit where it belongs... irrespective of personal preferences or glamorous hype of some selectively privileged! Unfortunately, most of our hierarchy in SLC / Media & some SL fans who are still emerged in this mess would always see through these partial lenses & INVERT reality according to their mindset! This is really counterproductive to Future.

    Rangana Herath (36 yrs) has 3-4 yrs remaining as a spinner, depending on his fitness. But, Upul Tharanga (29 yrs) as an experienced Opening batsmen who had already scored over 5000r in ODIs, has plenty of playing years (at least 9 yrs more) to come in his career! When you consider the future of SL Cricket beyond Sanga, Mahela & Dil... obviously we have to admit that Tharanga is the only certain choice among all those youngsters tried out! Chandi, Thiri, Dimuth, Kaushal, Kusal, Vithanage etc. nowhere near him in STATS or ACTS..!!

  • SLFan-2200 on August 18, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    It is a fitting farewell for MJ, thanks to the massive efforts of a couple of most hounded players: Rangana Herath & Upul Tharanga.

    Left-arm spinner Herath's record making 9 + 5 = 14 wickets harvest & Upul Tharanga's superb 92 + 45= 137 Runs "Top-of-the-List" batting contribution on that difficult run-making wicket made it possible. Only Sarfraz managed a few runs more on that hard-to-score deck.!

    Unfortunately, unlike some other, these 2 SL Work-horses rarely received any appreciation or rewards they deserved for the silent but decisive match-winning efforts they rendered in numerous occasions, throughout their careers! They were grossly Ignored, Underestimated /Criticized, Underutilized & Unappreciated in SL cricket scene during the past.!

    This is how SL batters contributed in 2nd Test:

    Tharanga - 92 + 45 =137

    Mathews -39 + 43*= 82

    Sanga - 59 + 22= 81

    Mahela - 53 + 4 = 58

    Kaushal - 17, 41= 58

    Dikwella - 24 + 21 = 45

    Thirimanne- 20 +10 = 30

  • Kotuwegogoda on August 18, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    Continuation.

    Mahela, you will be with ODI structure until 2015 edition of World Cup competition. This is another opportunity to impart your leadership and tactical change skills to Angelo and his team and whoever seek your advise. When you are done with all three formats, kindly engage yourselves with Srilankan cricket as an administrator , batting coach, head coach or with ICC so your cricketing knowledge/skills and simplicity will be remembered for. Generations to come! Thank you Mahela Jayawardena for your yeoman service to Srilanka cricket.

  • Kotuwegogoda on August 18, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    I delayed my comments intentionally until 2nd Test was over. Mahela, you are truly a legend, great servant for Srilanka, Asia and world at large. Your premature retirement from Test arena made Srilnakan Team a void that can't be filled so easily. You are once in a life time product and another Mahela may take generations to evolve. In the same vein, world cricket lost a genius in you.

    Now, Angelo and Team Srilanka need to nurture and preserve Sanga, Herath to as long as they possibly can lure them to stay within Test cricket structure so the new generation of cricketers can emulate your rare talents. This is more so b'cos Srilanka cricket lost Dilshan, Samaraweera, Sanath and Murali not so long ago and finding substitutes are not easy.

  • LankaPuthra on August 18, 2014, 8:08 GMT

    Unlike some great SL cricket legends, Mahela's retirement was perfectly timed (just like his shots). He decided to bow out at his peak. He did not out-run his welcome in the side. I, and I am sure many cricket fans, believe there is a lot left in Mahela, but the way and timing of ones retirement is crucial to ensure us fans remember them with yet more greatness than when they were actually playing - if that is ever possible. Well done Mahela! We shall miss you big time. (BTW I live just a few doors next to you on Ratnayake Mawatha).

  • WASHJ-Sydney on August 18, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    A true legend of the game that provided yeoman service to SL cricket during an era of enormous challenge & upheaval that pervaded all aspects of life in this island nation. As I look back at MJ's legacy I wonder what specific place he holds in the history of SL cricket. When Murali called it quits he was the best SL bowler ever, Ranatunge's place-greatest SL captain, Vassy arguably SL's best seam bowler, Goonetilake best SL wicket keeper. What then is MJ; he is a class act but may not surpass Aravinda as the best ever batter to don SL shirt. However, to me his place in SL cricketing arena is as unique as Sanath's. His style of play is his own, those silky late caresses & impeccable timing & placement were characteristically his. His adaptability is second to none. When T20 arrived power hitting was to be the order the of day but diminutive MJ dispelled that & became a first to reach 3 figures in that format. Thanks Mahela for all the joy imparted when the nation needed it most.

  • on August 18, 2014, 7:13 GMT

    Wonderful human being, superb leader and a masterclass as a batsman! Mahela you will be missed by the entire world.

  • on August 18, 2014, 6:37 GMT

    Mahela.. #69 is one of the great cricketers i have seen, especially with the bat... Salutes to the LEGEND..!! a great farewell series ever...by the team Sri Lanka... !! #godofmoderncricket

  • RoshJ on August 17, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    A Warrior.. gallant in gear, yet one so petite .. Battles fought, wars won..in the cricketing field. Not with anger, hatred nor trickery.. But with skills, humanity and a smiling face….a class act! Mahela, you are now the yesteryear's Picasso, Beethoven and Tagore of cricket… SLAUTE to a great cricketer, fighter, champion and most of all a great human being!

  • CricketChat on August 18, 2014, 13:09 GMT

    Mahela's last inning typified both mental and physical state that he was in as far as tests are concerned. Body unable to match mind's demands. I am reminded of Sachin's last innings which was also in similar vein. Right time for MJ to walk away. Great career, big heart and a great leader. Not many can tick off all those qualities. Hopefully, he will finish ODI career with WC win next year!

  • dhanuhskaS on August 18, 2014, 11:33 GMT

    @Lenard_Fernando: I agree, in SL we definitely need a proper change in our VISION before MISSION... to give due credit where it belongs... irrespective of personal preferences or glamorous hype of some selectively privileged! Unfortunately, most of our hierarchy in SLC / Media & some SL fans who are still emerged in this mess would always see through these partial lenses & INVERT reality according to their mindset! This is really counterproductive to Future.

    Rangana Herath (36 yrs) has 3-4 yrs remaining as a spinner, depending on his fitness. But, Upul Tharanga (29 yrs) as an experienced Opening batsmen who had already scored over 5000r in ODIs, has plenty of playing years (at least 9 yrs more) to come in his career! When you consider the future of SL Cricket beyond Sanga, Mahela & Dil... obviously we have to admit that Tharanga is the only certain choice among all those youngsters tried out! Chandi, Thiri, Dimuth, Kaushal, Kusal, Vithanage etc. nowhere near him in STATS or ACTS..!!

  • SLFan-2200 on August 18, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    It is a fitting farewell for MJ, thanks to the massive efforts of a couple of most hounded players: Rangana Herath & Upul Tharanga.

    Left-arm spinner Herath's record making 9 + 5 = 14 wickets harvest & Upul Tharanga's superb 92 + 45= 137 Runs "Top-of-the-List" batting contribution on that difficult run-making wicket made it possible. Only Sarfraz managed a few runs more on that hard-to-score deck.!

    Unfortunately, unlike some other, these 2 SL Work-horses rarely received any appreciation or rewards they deserved for the silent but decisive match-winning efforts they rendered in numerous occasions, throughout their careers! They were grossly Ignored, Underestimated /Criticized, Underutilized & Unappreciated in SL cricket scene during the past.!

    This is how SL batters contributed in 2nd Test:

    Tharanga - 92 + 45 =137

    Mathews -39 + 43*= 82

    Sanga - 59 + 22= 81

    Mahela - 53 + 4 = 58

    Kaushal - 17, 41= 58

    Dikwella - 24 + 21 = 45

    Thirimanne- 20 +10 = 30

  • Kotuwegogoda on August 18, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    Continuation.

    Mahela, you will be with ODI structure until 2015 edition of World Cup competition. This is another opportunity to impart your leadership and tactical change skills to Angelo and his team and whoever seek your advise. When you are done with all three formats, kindly engage yourselves with Srilankan cricket as an administrator , batting coach, head coach or with ICC so your cricketing knowledge/skills and simplicity will be remembered for. Generations to come! Thank you Mahela Jayawardena for your yeoman service to Srilanka cricket.

  • Kotuwegogoda on August 18, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    I delayed my comments intentionally until 2nd Test was over. Mahela, you are truly a legend, great servant for Srilanka, Asia and world at large. Your premature retirement from Test arena made Srilnakan Team a void that can't be filled so easily. You are once in a life time product and another Mahela may take generations to evolve. In the same vein, world cricket lost a genius in you.

    Now, Angelo and Team Srilanka need to nurture and preserve Sanga, Herath to as long as they possibly can lure them to stay within Test cricket structure so the new generation of cricketers can emulate your rare talents. This is more so b'cos Srilanka cricket lost Dilshan, Samaraweera, Sanath and Murali not so long ago and finding substitutes are not easy.

  • LankaPuthra on August 18, 2014, 8:08 GMT

    Unlike some great SL cricket legends, Mahela's retirement was perfectly timed (just like his shots). He decided to bow out at his peak. He did not out-run his welcome in the side. I, and I am sure many cricket fans, believe there is a lot left in Mahela, but the way and timing of ones retirement is crucial to ensure us fans remember them with yet more greatness than when they were actually playing - if that is ever possible. Well done Mahela! We shall miss you big time. (BTW I live just a few doors next to you on Ratnayake Mawatha).

  • WASHJ-Sydney on August 18, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    A true legend of the game that provided yeoman service to SL cricket during an era of enormous challenge & upheaval that pervaded all aspects of life in this island nation. As I look back at MJ's legacy I wonder what specific place he holds in the history of SL cricket. When Murali called it quits he was the best SL bowler ever, Ranatunge's place-greatest SL captain, Vassy arguably SL's best seam bowler, Goonetilake best SL wicket keeper. What then is MJ; he is a class act but may not surpass Aravinda as the best ever batter to don SL shirt. However, to me his place in SL cricketing arena is as unique as Sanath's. His style of play is his own, those silky late caresses & impeccable timing & placement were characteristically his. His adaptability is second to none. When T20 arrived power hitting was to be the order the of day but diminutive MJ dispelled that & became a first to reach 3 figures in that format. Thanks Mahela for all the joy imparted when the nation needed it most.

  • on August 18, 2014, 7:13 GMT

    Wonderful human being, superb leader and a masterclass as a batsman! Mahela you will be missed by the entire world.

  • on August 18, 2014, 6:37 GMT

    Mahela.. #69 is one of the great cricketers i have seen, especially with the bat... Salutes to the LEGEND..!! a great farewell series ever...by the team Sri Lanka... !! #godofmoderncricket

  • on August 18, 2014, 0:00 GMT

    Mahela Jaywardena you were an asset to the game of cricket and provided great entertainment as a gentleman player. You shall certainly be missed. Have a long and healthy life and success in your future plans. AJ from Pakistan

  • on August 17, 2014, 20:50 GMT

    Shame he missed the 50 average by a hair.

  • on August 17, 2014, 20:40 GMT

    M J is one of the players who plays accordingly to the situation . Sri Lanka surely misses his contribution to the cricket field. All the best and hope to see in one day matches and T 20 matches .

  • on August 17, 2014, 19:34 GMT

    Mahela is a great team player never thought of personal goals and probably the second best captain behind Arjuna Srilanka has ever had. His magnificent century at the world cup final 2011 will be remembered by all cricket lovers. Good bye Mahela the cricket field will miss you, we Srilankans are so indebted to you for the great service. Wish you and your family all the very best.

  • on August 17, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    a good personality. great player. will be surely missed by cricket lovers all over the world. good luck for future.

  • malikaroxc on August 17, 2014, 17:39 GMT

    @siddhartha87 just watch how your indian legends doing in England. end the test mtch in 3 days. whole cricketing world know how great batsaman he is. don't insult a great cricketer. just accept the truth

  • PoeticCricket on August 17, 2014, 17:00 GMT

    Mahela's batting is not a battle between bat & ball but a romance between two lovers, the bat & the ball. His bat never hit the ball but kissed the ball. Never rushed to the ball but met the ball. But this beautiful romance as many came to an end, leaving a world of emotions. He was not dying star loosing brilliance in his last test but a shooting star blinked a way from our gaze never to be seen again.

  • siddhartha87 on August 17, 2014, 16:44 GMT

    mahela ..the most over rated batsman of all time. Averages 20s and 30s in SA,Aus,England. Hopefully Lankans get some good batsman instead of this dead pitch legend

  • on August 17, 2014, 16:02 GMT

    A great player but an even better man. Had the privilege of spending some time with him at the golf club in Colombo and all I can say is a real gentleman! Go well Mahela can't wait to visit your beautiful country again!

  • amuni12 on August 17, 2014, 15:54 GMT

    Mahela, thank you helping SL to be recognized as a cricketing nation. You are among one of those top tier cricketers the world has produced. Your records speak for themselves. SL fans and old Nalandians are immensely proud of you. Good luck with future endeavors!

  • on August 17, 2014, 15:43 GMT

    Thank you MJ fr the entertainment. u have done a lot fr srilankan cricket and r a role model fr everyone. some of ur knocks r cricketing folklore. between u and sanga it has been an immense pleasure to watch both of u play together. gud luck fr ur future endeavors

  • on August 17, 2014, 15:30 GMT

    he is the only batsman who can strike 360° all over the ground.A true gentleman, a true leader.i think you'r retirement early. wish you all the success in your future

  • on August 17, 2014, 15:26 GMT

    I was also in the ground today moaning..specially for mahela..and what a player he is.. so its tearing moment for all of us.. but Sangakkara also made the some strange reactions after he get out.. bcoz of his reaction suddenly fans stand and applause as this is his last test... t

  • S305 on August 17, 2014, 15:02 GMT

    Happy retirement, legend! Thank you for what you have done for Sri Lanka.

  • Sinhaya on August 17, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    Thank you Mahela for your contribution to Sri Lankan cricket. Glad to see you play at your home venue for your last test match.

  • Senaratne77 on August 17, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    Watched him play his final innings as a school boy in 1996 and today i watched him play his last test innings as well, ironically both at the SSC. What a player. A true product of Nalanda, and a true product of Sri lanka. Thanks for the memories Mahela, we will surely miss you. But remember you still have a lot more cricket in you ....... WC '15 , brother!

  • on August 17, 2014, 14:42 GMT

    cant remember the exact score, but Mahela J hit a world wind 100+ VS South Africa under 23 at SSC. He was much younger than the rest of the players and SAF's had players like Pollock, Kallis, Boje, LanceK. What a knock it was!! I was lucky to see that Innings.

  • on August 17, 2014, 14:36 GMT

    pls dont think twise to answer anji's calls he will keep caling you for sure,we need your ploy on and off the field

  • cricchanel.com on August 17, 2014, 14:22 GMT

    Mahela Jayawardene Retirement from test cricket will be missed by many years by Sri Lanka. He is playing his last match vs Pakistan. Sri Lanka would miss him a lot for long future because such players born in history. His key friends in the team Kumar Sangakara and Angelo Mathews would certainly miss his accompany as a batsman and a kind suggester.

  • on August 17, 2014, 14:02 GMT

    Grand salute for MJ... Sure we will miss him alot

  • on August 17, 2014, 13:47 GMT

    gud luck man.. thanks for making us proud n entertained thru all of ur 17years.. gone mis u loads.. hats off.. ever loving fan..

  • on August 17, 2014, 12:57 GMT

    Thank you very much Mahela, for all the entertainment provided and your noble contributions to lift Sri Lanka Cricket to significant heights. More importantly you are a true leader and real gentleman who have been instrumental in bringing in new dressing room culture which helped to groom young blood and also to appreciate their true talents. We certainly miss you but it is an eternal truth that every good thing comes to end one day. Dear Prince, we wish you all the success in your future endeavours. Good Luck!!

  • on August 17, 2014, 12:23 GMT

    Batsman of class; Very rare now a days,A true gentleman to remember & a stylish batsman to emulate. Around 200 catches speaks of his unassuming greatness as a fielder . A man to be idolized .My very good wishes for him & his family

  • on August 17, 2014, 12:21 GMT

    My warmest wishes for your future ayye!

  • on August 17, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    Since day one he is my icon. Legends will stay in hearts forever. He is picasso in cricket. also unique. best of luck mayya. thank you for your magnificent contribution to Lion nation. miss you un test so badly.

  • on August 17, 2014, 11:19 GMT

    Being an Indian..! I have grown up by watching your game and you are my favourite player forever..! I will always remember your dedication towards the game and clever mind in the field as well..! Salute from my Heart to the great Legend.. can't stop my tears as I know that i cannot see you again in Test cricket..!

  • Amarjitmadan on August 17, 2014, 10:44 GMT

    A great player who played like a real gentleman. His partnerships with Sangakara another house hold name in Sri Lanka but both liked a great deal by those fans across the world who know the game and don't opposition players cheaply.Mahela's captaincy skills were outstanding and in pressure situations he used to take it on him and go up the order and even opening. He also consulted his players, Sangakara took the baton and did the same and the present captain working on same lines which strengthens the team a lot. It is sad to see him leave but still appreciate his timely decision. For me he will go down as one of the batsmen to have graced the game again confirming most of such batsmen have been short stat urged.He deserves a royal salute from the cricketing fraternity.

  • Sinhabahu on August 17, 2014, 9:44 GMT

    Thank you, Mahela. I remember you scoring 66 on debut, in that match where we piled on 952/6. You were a silken strokemaker even then and you have brought so much joy to millions. Fare thee well, Mayya!

  • on August 17, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    good personality and a great of game. will be surely missed. good luck for future.

  • MH19 on August 17, 2014, 9:13 GMT

    Form is temporary but your class is permanent and you were the next best to Ranathunga and thank you for all what you have done for SL and also to our people i look forward to a majestic world cup in Australia from you mahela.

  • on August 17, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    Ending an era of skillful batsmenship

  • on August 17, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    one of the man....who if scored 100 against Pakistan...or become man of the match.....never feel guilty or anger on that lost game....gr8 player......salute u..

  • on August 17, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    Great sportsman...We gonna miss u Maiya...

  • on August 17, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    We will miss you and your artistry. Hope Srilanka wins the world Cup for you.

  • on August 17, 2014, 8:15 GMT

    Classical end of great batting partnership between two prolific players.

  • SMKhanRizvi on August 17, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    Surely one among the greats.....sometime averages n statistics are just a part....Hats off man

  • on August 17, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    Salute to the artist! Cricket is not the same anymore...

  • Cricketluv on August 17, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    The cricketing poem, writing by Wordsworth, and Frost together diminishes in the horizon of Test Cricket. A sad for cricket lovers. Who said 'No man is indispensable'. I want to check his head.

  • Master_Mihil on August 17, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    End of an Era... Test cricket is lonely without you :(

  • on August 17, 2014, 7:38 GMT

    Well done Mahela! Yet another world's best retires... Hope we see you around the game of cricket.

  • on August 17, 2014, 7:20 GMT

    My childhood heroes Ponting,Sachin,Gili ,Smith,Kallia and Mahela all out of the cricket ground!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • on August 17, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    Farewell to the great artist! will miss your elegance in test cricket!

  • on August 17, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    Farewell to the great artist! will miss your elegance in test cricket!

  • on August 17, 2014, 7:20 GMT

    My childhood heroes Ponting,Sachin,Gili ,Smith,Kallia and Mahela all out of the cricket ground!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • on August 17, 2014, 7:38 GMT

    Well done Mahela! Yet another world's best retires... Hope we see you around the game of cricket.

  • Master_Mihil on August 17, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    End of an Era... Test cricket is lonely without you :(

  • Cricketluv on August 17, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    The cricketing poem, writing by Wordsworth, and Frost together diminishes in the horizon of Test Cricket. A sad for cricket lovers. Who said 'No man is indispensable'. I want to check his head.

  • on August 17, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    Salute to the artist! Cricket is not the same anymore...

  • SMKhanRizvi on August 17, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    Surely one among the greats.....sometime averages n statistics are just a part....Hats off man

  • on August 17, 2014, 8:15 GMT

    Classical end of great batting partnership between two prolific players.

  • on August 17, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    We will miss you and your artistry. Hope Srilanka wins the world Cup for you.

  • on August 17, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    Great sportsman...We gonna miss u Maiya...