Mahela Jayawardene as captain February 11, 2009

Leading from the front

A statistical analysis of Mahela Jayawardene's reign as Sri Lankan captain

With 15 wins in 26 Tests (and an opportunity to add two more in Pakistan) and 54 from 94 ODIs, Mahela Jayawardene is easily Sri Lanka's most successful captain in both forms of the game. More than just the number of wins, though, under him Sri Lanka also learnt the art of winning away from home more regularly against stronger opposition, beating England, New Zealand and West Indies in overseas Tests.

Admittedly, seven of his 15 Test victories came against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, and 25 out of 54 ODI triumphs were achieved against lesser sides, but Sri Lanka still performed better in both forms of the game than they had under most other leaders. (Click here, and then scroll down, for a comparison of Sri Lanka's record against top teams under each captain in Tests, and here for ODIs.)

Win-loss record in Tests for Sri Lankan captains (Qual: 15 Tests)
Captain Tests Wins Losses Win-loss ratio
Mahela Jayawardene 26 15 7 2.14
Sanath Jayasuriya 38 18 12 1.50
Marvan Atapattu 18 8 6 1.33
Arjuna Ranatunga 56 12 19 0.63
Duleep Mendis 19 2 8 0.25

Though Sri Lanka reached the final of the World Cup with Jayawardene in charge, overall they did better in Tests. In the ODIs they performed patchily, winning 29 and losing 33 games against the top teams. The most surprising aspect was their vulnerability at home, where they lost 13 games and won only seven against the top teams, losing two series against India and one against England.

Win-loss record in ODIs for Sri Lankan captains (Qual: 50 ODIs)
Captain ODIs Wins Losses Win-loss ratio
Mahela Jayawardene 94 54 35 1.54
Sanath Jayasuriya 118 66 47 1.40
Marvan Atapattu 63 35 27 1.29
Arjuna Ranatunga 193 89 95 0.93
Duleep Mendis 61 11 46 0.23

Despite going through a batting slump over the last three months of his captaincy - he averaged 14.13 in his last 15 innings - he still finished with a captaincy average of 34.22, about three runs higher than his average before he took over that position. Against the top teams, the difference is even higher - 38.29 as captain in 70 games, and 30.29 when he wasn't the leader.

Jayawardene, with and without captaincy in ODIs
  ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Not captain 202 5270 31.00 74.07 6/ 32
Captain 97 2772 34.22 80.72 4/ 17

In Tests, though, his numbers rose spectacularly after he took charge of the team. His first century as captain came in his ninth innings, a superb 119 in a drawn game at Lord's, but thereafter the runs came thick and fast, the highlight being his monumental 374 in Colombo against South Africa. He led the team in five overseas countries in Tests, and scored hundreds in four of them - Australia, England, West Indies and Bangladesh. The only country he missed out in was New Zealand, where he scored only 39 runs in four innings.

Jayawardene, with and without captaincy in Tests
  Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Not captain 74 5306 47.80 13/ 27
Captain 26 2653 64.70 11/ 5

Jayawardene's Test average of 64.70 is an outstanding one, and it looks even better when put in perspective: among batsmen who led their teams in at least 20 matches, Jayawardene's average as leader is next only to Don Bradman's 101.51. In fact, no other batsman has an average of more than 60. Jayawardene needs to ensure those numbers don't slip in his last two Tests as captain, after which the challenge will be to continue the run-fest under a new captain.

Best batting record as captain iin Tests (Qual: 20 matches)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Don Bradman 24 3147 101.51 14/ 7
Mahela Jayawardene 26 2653 64.70 11/ 5
Garry Sobers 39 3528 58.80 11/ 15
Graham Gooch 34 3582 58.72 11/ 16
Ricky Ponting 53 4929 57.98 17/ 23
Brian Lara 47 4685 57.83 14/ 19
Greg Chappell 48 4209 55.38 13/ 19
Wally Hammond 20 1657 55.23 5/ 6

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo