Sri Lanka news July 14, 2014

Jayawardene to retire from Tests


Mahela Jayawardene will retire from Test cricket at the conclusion of the series against Pakistan in August, Sri Lanka Cricket has announced. He will continue to be available for ODI cricket only, having also retired from T20 internationals in April this year.

Jayawardene, 37, has been a cornerstone of the Sri Lanka batting order since his debut against India in 1997, and has amassed 11493 Test runs in his career, which is currently joint-highest for a Sri Lanka batsman alongside Kumar Sangakkara. He has played 145 Tests, and if fit and selected, will finish on 149, at the P Sara Oval match which begins on August 14. Jayawardene has hit 33 hundreds and 48 fifties in 244 innings.

"It was not an easy decision to make given that it has been a great privilege and honour representing my country during the past 18 years," Jayawardene said. "But I believe this is the right time."

Jayawardene has been in good Test-match form in 2014, averaging 75.77 in his six most recent matches. But with no home Tests scheduled for almost a year, and only two Tests in New Zealand remaining before the 2015 World Cup, he had alerted chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya of his wish to walk away from the longest format.

"He called me and said that he wants to play four more matches and retire from Test cricket, concentrating on ODI cricket until the World Cup," Jayasuriya said. "I think he is the best person to judge that. He has given outstanding service to Sri Lankan cricket, and is now giving a youngster a chance to come in and play Test cricket."

Jayawardene also led the Sri Lanka team from 2006 to 2009, and again for 12 months from early 2012 to 2013. His first captaincy stint was among Sri Lanka's most successful stretches of Test cricket, as the team won 15 of 28 matches and lost only seven. Renowned for his aggressive, innovative strategy, Jayawardene is regarded as one of Sri Lanka's best leaders, and perhaps the team's best tactician. He has played in 56 Test victories in all.

Among the most remarkable statistics of his career is his home average of 61.12, and his exploits in Sri Lanka have been key to his team's success at home since the turn of the century. Many of his best innings have come on bone-dry surfaces, where other batsmen have been unsuccessful. An excellent technique against spin bowling and a sharp cricket mind have been major themes in his cricket, and have seen him play match-defining innings, particularly in low-scoring games.

Jayawardene has hundreds against every Test side, and in every Test-playing country apart from South Africa, where he has struggled most. His away average of 41.50, and his modest returns on faster, bouncier surfaces have been the major criticisms leveled at his cricket. He has, however, had some success in England, where he has two hundreds at Lord's. Jayawardene hit 174 runs at 43.50 in his most recent series in England.

He has also excelled as a slip fielder throughout his career, sitting third on the all-time catches list, with 197 takes. He has been particularly sharp while fielding to spin bowling, with the Muttiah Muralitharan-Jayawardene partnership the most prolific bowler-fielder combination in Test history. He has completed catches more regularly than the other four fielders in the Test top five, with an average 0.75 catches per innings.

Apart from holding the Sri Lankan record for most runs, most catches and most Tests, Jayawardene has also made the highest score by a Sri Lankan - his 374 against South Africa in 2006. A still presence at the crease, and blessed with strong, supple wrists, Jayawardene is also known as one of the game's foremost stylists, with strokes all around the wicket, both classical and modern.

He had also been perhaps the most popular schoolboy cricketer of the 90s, for Nalanda College. He leaves the game in 2014 as a Sri Lankan great.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hari Hara Kumar on July 18, 2014, 7:07 GMT

    Ya we will miss his grace pleasantness and sure joy of watching him. Good luck to him for his future.

  • Isuru on July 17, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    The best cricketer i have ever seen. My hero is retiring and now is the best time to do so. If i rank him from my heart he will be the first surpassing even sachin tendulcar as mahela gave the team the best at the needy. He carried the burden of reconstructing a ruined innings has not been done by any great name in the long list. But mahela didd it. That us why he is the first. If i rank all time greats from not my heart there will only be at maxumum two or three beyind his name. Farewell mahela. Best of luck from your best fan.

  • Prahanta on July 17, 2014, 11:44 GMT

    Mahela has been classic batter right through his career. Probably the best leader of Srilankan cricket & one of the best in world cricket. Perfect man to be in slip. Cought almost everything which has been edged by Murali.

  • Sheethal on July 16, 2014, 7:12 GMT

    @ vinjoy But the stats say the otherwise...According to statguru, dravid has failed miserably in 2007, 2008, 2010 & can't 2009 as he played only 6 matches on FLAT indian decks...looks like you are one of those one eyed dravid fan!!!

  • Gautam on July 16, 2014, 2:07 GMT

    Ha Ha.. The home conditions bully finally calls it a day.. Was all at sea throughout his career in overseas conditions...

  • ESPN on July 15, 2014, 17:45 GMT

    MJ truly a legend better than any other player. Your captaincy and batting techniques are in pure class which we cannot be seen from players like tendulkar.. MJ simply the BEST cricketer whole world..

  • Buddhika on July 15, 2014, 17:20 GMT

    I think he choose wrong format to retire. He has another 2 years in test cricket while win 1 test match against Pak and solid contribution against 2nd Eng match. But in ODI's he is so inconsistent average lower than mediocre all rounder. So it's time to change the decision to retire ODI cricket while keep playing Test another 1-2 years

  • Dummy4 on July 15, 2014, 14:57 GMT

    we really going to miss him. great job Mahela you set a example for all. you 2 has prove the rest of the world what our country standard when no one gave us chance. I think you deserve finish with 150 matches. all the best . I hope this will help you concentrate on ODI and performed well in 2015 WC.

  • Dummy4 on July 15, 2014, 12:51 GMT

    Thank you Legend! You will be missed.

  • Tshego on July 15, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    A classical batsman. World cricket is losing another big one. Good luck Mahela!