Sri Lanka Cricket February 11, 2009

Jayawardene to step down


Mahela Jayawardene: "It has been my long-held belief that my successor should have at least 18 months in the job to imprint his vision on the team for the 2011 World Cup" © AFP

In a surprise move, Mahela Jayawardene has announced that he will resign as Sri Lanka captain after the upcoming two-Test series against Pakistan. The decision, announced on Wednesday, comes three days after Sri Lanka lost 4-1 to India in their home ODI series.

Sri Lanka Cricket CEO Duleep Mendis said Jayawardene's decision had been accepted and a new captain would be appointed for the one-day home series against Zimbabwe, which follows the Pakistan tour.

Jayawardene, who sat out Sri Lanka's Twenty20 international against India on Tuesday, called for a meeting with the selectors on Wednesday morning and proposed that the time was right to hand over the captaincy, ensuring his successor had sufficient time to build the team for the 2011 World Cup. He was asked to reconsider but reiterated the time was right, given the heavy season ahead.

He then met Mendis and informed his teammates.

"This is something I have been considering for some time as it has been my long-held belief that my successor should have at least 18 months in the job to imprint his vision on the team for the 2011 World Cup," Jayawardene said in a statement.

"I have concluded that the time has come for fresh leadership to takeover. It was not an easy decision to make because being the Sri Lanka captain has been the source of enormous pride. I hope to play a major part in the team's success as a batsman."

Jayawardene had hinted at the decision last August, in an interview to Cricinfo. "This is a job that I won't do for a long time," he said. "There have to be different challenges. The longer your career progresses, the more you need to focus on your own game and your family."

It is not immediately clear who will succeed him but the obvious choice will be Kumar Sangakkara, the current vice-captain and a close personal friend of Jayawardene's. In that interview, Jayawardene clearly spelled out his ideal succession plan. "Kumar is definitely a suitable person to lead Sri Lanka. His knowledge of the game and his approach is brilliant. He has been a brilliant deputy too. We talk a lot about planning and strategising, so there is not much difference in our thinking, which is very important. If I suddenly lose the hunger to lead then ideally Kumar should take over."

Jayawardene was appointed ODI captain in 2004 and took over the Test captaincy full time from Marvan Atapattu for the 2006 tour of England. One of his best achievements was guiding Sri Lanka to the World Cup final the following year and in 2008 they won the Asia Cup, beating India in the final.

Sri Lanka's away record improved under his leadership, as the team drew Test series in England, New Zealand and the West Indies. He led the team in 26 Tests, winning 15 and losing seven and his win ratio of 62.5% is the highest for any Sri Lankan captain in history. Although his recent one-day form had been patchy, he still scored heavily in Test cricket, averaging 64.70 as captain. Nor did he let his wavering form in one-day cricket affect his captaincy. In 94 ODIs under him, Sri Lanka won 54 and lost 35.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kasun on February 13, 2009, 16:42 GMT

    Mahela is great. No captain will be successful as him. Wait and see Sri Lankan media men who playing cricket with pens and paper? In coming years we will need Mahela again

  • Nalaka on February 13, 2009, 11:33 GMT

    I think that collectively the whole Sri Lankan team should be responsible for the loss to India. Most of the Batsman (including MJ) failed to score runs at all let alone score fastly and the bowlers failed to bowl to a correct line and length. If it was MJ's decision to drop the captaincy we should respect that as it's right, he should be concentrating on his batting which was POOR...But you gotta admit that SL will find it very hard to find the same kind of leadership in any other current player in the SL squad. Not ever Kumar..Sorry man bu thats the way it is... Anyways we need Mahela, the BATSMAN of old to hold our middle order together...Hats off to the finest leader that SL ever had...

  • Rajinda on February 13, 2009, 1:16 GMT

    I am amazed at few suggestions as replacements for MJ, by some pandits in this forum. Relax guys, we have the obvious choice in Sanga, & no one else. Some even think Sanga should have gotten the job before MJ. So in that sense SL cricket board will literally get stoned if they miss this call. Some of you suggest Vass, Murali & Maharoof! Really guys, Maha ? Why not Dilhara then? I guess you must want SL to go backwards from MJ to Maha. With all due respect to all these Cricketers who are talented, all-rounders & even legends, captaincy is not something you get because of seniority, or your prowess in just batting or bowling. Leadership is something you are born with, cannot be taught, specially in cricket. To be a captain one needs a cricketing brain, to think on the feet, improvise on the go & inspire the team. MJ has it & so does Sanga. From what I hear they have hopes for Kapu in the future, but that's a long way off. Till then please leave the selections to folks who know the game!!

  • Minendra on February 12, 2009, 18:23 GMT

    Mahela was no doubt one of finest captains in Sri Lanka and from the world i need not say more about him being a fine captain cause his record speaks for him self . His calm and cool head made things easy for the players playing around him especially in test matches. It is going to be hard to find a captain of such but Sangakkara is equivalent to Mahela. I am pretty sure S.L.C learn t a lot from Mahela as a captain. My view on him resigning as captain is fair. Being a captain doesnt mean that he has the luxury of not scoring runs. Though he did not intend on not scoring runs it did reflect on his captaincy too. A team feels weak especially when the person they look up to is not getting the runs, in this case it is Mahela. I totally respect his decision and see no harm in it cause the likely successor being Sangakkara, who is a great cricketer in the mind and on the field. Mahela is a great captain and is still a great player. I wish him nothing but sucess 4 da upcomin 2 test.

  • fyrgfhh on February 12, 2009, 11:29 GMT

    problem with Mahela was under his captancy Sri lankas home record was so poor.Sri lanka has done well in the overseas except CB series in Australia.If i m right srilanka had lost last four home ODI series against good ithink it is a fair decision to step down captancy.I think next captain should be a all rounder.I mean someone like Maharoof.Warth a try.

  • C.Felix on February 12, 2009, 10:12 GMT

    It was always a foreseen insight that MJ was appointed Captain for an indefinite time period. He was never going to be sacked. I think KS and Mashrafe bin Mortaza are the only vice-captains in International Cricket not to have lead their teams in International Matches since their appointment some 2-3 years ago. During this same time-period, people like Mike Hussey and Johan Botha not considered for the vice-captaincy led their respective teams. Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas are and should be the potential candidates for Captain and Vice Captain. TM Dilshan is not a peoples person and should never again be considered as the Sri Lankan Captain. He never encouraged his bowlers in the T20I against India. Sanga can be a long-term Captain with Murali or Vaas as his deputy in the short-term (i.e. till they retire); and then some1 like Maharoof, Vandort or Kapugedera can be groomed as a long-term Captain. It is in the team's best interests to remove Mahela as Captain

  • SANJEEV on February 12, 2009, 9:45 GMT

    Hi Cricinfo Fans,I am Danusanju from Sri Lanka.I am a bit of surprised with Mahela's decision.This is something I have never expected.I think we all respect his decision.He has taken this decision in the interst of the Team.We don't know who will be appointed as Sri Lanka's next captain but the obivious & automatic choice would be Vice Captain Kumar Sangakara.I too feel If he is appointed as captain definitely he will the Sri Lanka cricket to the next level.Because he understands the game well & has got a good cricketing brain.I am sure he will bring more & more wins.I would like to remind all of you that,in 2007 World cup the former captain Mavan Attaptu was not given any single chance to play by Mahela.Captain is the Boss so he should have called the final eleven but Mahela was listening to Chief Selector Asantha De mel.This is not something we expect from the good captain.I feel sorry for Mavan he had to hang up his boots because of politics interfere.

  • Inam on February 12, 2009, 8:23 GMT

    I don't think that it's the right decision. Jawardene is best choice for captancy available to the sri lankan team. He is a clever and thinking captain and have good knowledge of the game. I think he is more effective as a captain than as a batsmen.

    To me, the problem with the team currently is trial of too many different players for different series. No team can afford to play a different unit in every game. This causes a major problem to the captain in utilising his resources properly. I don't know the reason behind such selections, but under the circumstances one should realise and appraise the effort put in by the captain. I would recommend Mr. Jawardene not to rsign and would also like to advise the slectors to address this issue.

  • chanaka on February 12, 2009, 6:38 GMT

    This not we expected from mahela.As we all know the only reason that srilanka lost to India is TOSS.Because there is a more than 80% chance to win if won the toss.It was proven in the 5th ODI.This was also happen in prev series.This is the nature of cricket.According to my opinion Mahela is the best Captain in Srilanka.As a cricket is team game every body should contribute for the game.That was not happen in last few series.Thats why this kind of condition occur. Since Asia Cup final we only depend on Ajatha Mendis.Team expected lot more than from him.If he was unble to get wickets then it caused for lost matches.Batsman like Kapugedara,Jayasuriya,Sangakkara Should give more than that they give lets get together and face to the challenge.

  • Mahbub on February 12, 2009, 5:43 GMT

    yes it is right time to take this decision

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