Mahela Jayawardene retires July 15, 2014

A leader, people person and go-to guy

Former Sri Lanka cricketers, coaches and team-mates pay tribute to Mahela Jayawardene, who will retire from Test cricket in August
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"As a leader, and a team man, there is no one you would rather have around than Mahela. Even when he's not captain, he's the leader of that Sri Lanka team, and I think Angie [Angelo Mathews] has learned a lot from him over the past few months. Everything he does is always for the team and for Sri Lankan cricket. There is not a selfish bone in his body. For any overseas coach he's your go-to guy, because he's thinking about everyone in the team - the seniors, the juniors, support staff - everyone. He's a real people person and that's his great strength. He is a world-class player and a world-class person. Sri Lankan cricket will not realise how much he means to the team, until he's gone."
Paul Farbrace, former Sri Lanka coach

"He's always been the ultimate team man, leading us brilliantly as a captain and always putting the team first. Everyone in the dressing room respects and admires his honesty, integrity, commitment, inner strength and great strategic vision. As a batsman, he's been phenomenal for Sri Lanka, always unselfish and committed to the needs of the team, and invariably saving his best for when we needed him most."
Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka batsman*

"Mahela has given outstanding service for Sri Lankan cricket, and even when he was captain, he was someone who would always back the young players in the team. They learn a lot of things from him, and that experience he shares will help them do well in Test cricket as well."
Sanath Jayasuriya, current Sri Lanka selector

"He was always good off me, and I preferred him to be at slip because he had very fast reflexes, a good technique and good hands. I think taking slip catches off spinners is one of the hardest things, but he was the best at that. He started off at short leg, and he took a lot of catches there as well, before moving into slip. I always felt comfortable with him there."
Muttiah Muralitharan, former Sri Lanka spinner

"Sad to see @MahelaJay retiring from two versions. Easily the best captain I have played under. Lucky to have played alongside you! #legend"
Farveez Maharoof, Sri Lanka allrounder

"He is a truly great player and one of the nicest guys. I think what Sri Lanka will miss most is his mentoring of the youth. It's good to go when you have a little left in you - you'll always miss a player more when he does that. I think he's made a sensible decision."
Sidath Wettimuny, former Sri Lanka batsman

"Mahela was less of a planner - he was a man who made decisions on the ground. That made him an innovative captain who would come up with new options when things didn't go well. His influence in Sri Lankan cricket is phenomenal. He might not have been the most consistent player around, but there were matches where he would win a game off his own bat, so you've got to make an allowance for that. He will also go down as one of the most elegant players going around."
Ranjit Fernando, former Sri Lanka cricketer

"When I walked into the national team, he was my first captain. I learnt a lot by looking at him, and by what he is doing on and off the field - the way he handles situations. He's been tremendous for us in the past 15 years and I am very thankful to him."
Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka captain

"I first saw Mahela when he had just come out of school, and apart from his batting, he had a great attitude and always read the game brilliantly. I've enjoyed talking with him over the years and he's always happy to share his experience with other players. When I was coach of Nepal and I brought some of the Nepal players to Sri Lanka, Mahela would always come and talk to them and give some advice. He is that kind of person."
Roy Dias, former Sri Lanka batsman

"Mahela has been an amazing servant for Sri Lanka cricket. In his last four Tests, I'm sure he will represent them as honourably as he has done over the last 18 years. Definitely, he is one of the all time greats for Sri Lanka."
Hashim Amla, South Africa's Test captain

*Sangakkara's comments were added to the story, after he made them on Wednesday evening.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | July 15, 2014, 23:49 GMT

    I happened to watch a game where Mahela scored a classic 55 runs in Galle against Richmond. I mentioned to Rohitha Wickramasekera (Richmond coach) and Bandula Warnapura (Nalanda coach) that this lad will be the next great Roy Dias for Sri Lanka simply looking at the calm elegance he displayed at the age of 15 or 16 at the time. I followed his career with such earnest ever since and glad that he became one of the greatest batsmen Sri Lanka ever produced if not the Greatest. He will make a great Coach for the National team with his experience and the love for Country, Game & Peaple.

  • POSTED BY on | July 15, 2014, 14:15 GMT

    I saw a little bit of Roy Dias in him when he was playing calm, little more in Dulip Mendis when he is in worked-up mood, saw the gentleman of the caliber of Michael Tissera when he talked.. Never hurt anyone in his talk, appreciation was his trade mark. An Irreplaceable gentleman wows off. Thanks Mahela! for a great duty performed. Hats off to a model of gentleman we rarely find in the modern-day cricket. Hope you will serve the country behind the screen if that is the next duty in line, If you do not mind. We do not wish to see your smile fade off.

  • POSTED BY Sultan2007 on | July 20, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    I am an Indian cricket fanatic but I Have been an unabashed fan of Mahela's batting. Aside from Sachin, and you'll understandably forgive me for that, Mahela's batting was a thing if beauty. Deft touches, lovely drives, beautiful timing and completely invulnerable when on song. The only other Sri Lankan batsman who ran him close was Aravinda, who also was immense. The Gavaskat and Sachin if Sri Lankan cricket, Though neither opened the batting. Thanks Mahela for the joy you brought us through so many years.

  • POSTED BY IsuruMS on | July 18, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    The best i have seen in decades cuz he does not have the nicest job like sachin tendulkar or sanath jayasooriya or any other got. He is a middle order player who carrie the burden of reconstructing a fallen innings which he sucseeded and did more than well. That is the hardest job to do. If he fails it' s like the team fails. That is why i would rank his golden name from my heart in the top. Even though i had to rank MY HERO from not my heart, there will only be two or three at maximum beyond him.

  • POSTED BY ac_Indian on | July 16, 2014, 15:16 GMT

    Congratulations Mahela for a wonderful career. Happy retirement!

  • POSTED BY on | July 16, 2014, 15:13 GMT

    Does anyone remember when playing a test in Australia, around early 2000, a seagull was hit by the ball and Mahela carried the injured (or dying) seagull in his hands to the pavilion? A great human being and a great cricketer!!!!

  • POSTED BY on | July 16, 2014, 13:54 GMT

    Why does it say 'former sri lanka allrounder' next to Farveez Maharoof, does that mean he's retired from international cricket? I don't recall him ever announcing any retirement...

  • POSTED BY Andrew-Silva on | July 16, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    There goes another pillar of SL cricket.... which withstood some cyclones to keep SL cricket standards high at all times, for many years! During the past years of his career, he had faced the......

    GOOD: through all the victories he brought to SL with his immaculate captaincy & unforgettable performances, mostly in big occasions..!

    BAD: some storms generated from SLC's bay of insanity....!!

    & THE UGLY: ungrateful, shortsighted, ludicrous criticism of some clueless SL fans..!!!

    Thank you Mahela for all the memorable contributions that you made with your bat & your masterminded strategies..! Our Slip cordon will never be the same and it will have a huge gap.... hard to fill without your safe pair of hands..!!!

  • POSTED BY on | July 16, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    mahela jaywardene gr8 player. a superb team man well played & congratulations on a wonderful career!

  • POSTED BY on | July 16, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    Yes... Mahela Jayawardene is a world-class player and a world-class person.And Sri Lankan cricket will not realise how much he means to the team, until he's gone."as Paul Farbrace said.. I agree

  • POSTED BY on | July 15, 2014, 23:49 GMT

    I happened to watch a game where Mahela scored a classic 55 runs in Galle against Richmond. I mentioned to Rohitha Wickramasekera (Richmond coach) and Bandula Warnapura (Nalanda coach) that this lad will be the next great Roy Dias for Sri Lanka simply looking at the calm elegance he displayed at the age of 15 or 16 at the time. I followed his career with such earnest ever since and glad that he became one of the greatest batsmen Sri Lanka ever produced if not the Greatest. He will make a great Coach for the National team with his experience and the love for Country, Game & Peaple.

  • POSTED BY on | July 15, 2014, 14:15 GMT

    I saw a little bit of Roy Dias in him when he was playing calm, little more in Dulip Mendis when he is in worked-up mood, saw the gentleman of the caliber of Michael Tissera when he talked.. Never hurt anyone in his talk, appreciation was his trade mark. An Irreplaceable gentleman wows off. Thanks Mahela! for a great duty performed. Hats off to a model of gentleman we rarely find in the modern-day cricket. Hope you will serve the country behind the screen if that is the next duty in line, If you do not mind. We do not wish to see your smile fade off.

  • POSTED BY Sultan2007 on | July 20, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    I am an Indian cricket fanatic but I Have been an unabashed fan of Mahela's batting. Aside from Sachin, and you'll understandably forgive me for that, Mahela's batting was a thing if beauty. Deft touches, lovely drives, beautiful timing and completely invulnerable when on song. The only other Sri Lankan batsman who ran him close was Aravinda, who also was immense. The Gavaskat and Sachin if Sri Lankan cricket, Though neither opened the batting. Thanks Mahela for the joy you brought us through so many years.

  • POSTED BY IsuruMS on | July 18, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    The best i have seen in decades cuz he does not have the nicest job like sachin tendulkar or sanath jayasooriya or any other got. He is a middle order player who carrie the burden of reconstructing a fallen innings which he sucseeded and did more than well. That is the hardest job to do. If he fails it' s like the team fails. That is why i would rank his golden name from my heart in the top. Even though i had to rank MY HERO from not my heart, there will only be two or three at maximum beyond him.

  • POSTED BY ac_Indian on | July 16, 2014, 15:16 GMT

    Congratulations Mahela for a wonderful career. Happy retirement!

  • POSTED BY on | July 16, 2014, 15:13 GMT

    Does anyone remember when playing a test in Australia, around early 2000, a seagull was hit by the ball and Mahela carried the injured (or dying) seagull in his hands to the pavilion? A great human being and a great cricketer!!!!

  • POSTED BY on | July 16, 2014, 13:54 GMT

    Why does it say 'former sri lanka allrounder' next to Farveez Maharoof, does that mean he's retired from international cricket? I don't recall him ever announcing any retirement...

  • POSTED BY Andrew-Silva on | July 16, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    There goes another pillar of SL cricket.... which withstood some cyclones to keep SL cricket standards high at all times, for many years! During the past years of his career, he had faced the......

    GOOD: through all the victories he brought to SL with his immaculate captaincy & unforgettable performances, mostly in big occasions..!

    BAD: some storms generated from SLC's bay of insanity....!!

    & THE UGLY: ungrateful, shortsighted, ludicrous criticism of some clueless SL fans..!!!

    Thank you Mahela for all the memorable contributions that you made with your bat & your masterminded strategies..! Our Slip cordon will never be the same and it will have a huge gap.... hard to fill without your safe pair of hands..!!!

  • POSTED BY on | July 16, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    mahela jaywardene gr8 player. a superb team man well played & congratulations on a wonderful career!

  • POSTED BY on | July 16, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    Yes... Mahela Jayawardene is a world-class player and a world-class person.And Sri Lankan cricket will not realise how much he means to the team, until he's gone."as Paul Farbrace said.. I agree

  • POSTED BY on | July 16, 2014, 9:23 GMT

    I do give him my respect what he done for srilanka. i still remember the century scored in world cup final in India against India.That was best i ever saw from him. Good luck mahela

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 16, 2014, 9:02 GMT

    very timely move i guess...... fr the team n fr himself..... yh hasnt been at his best recently..... cz thr r soo mny youngstrz knockng at d door, SL can nvr bear d retiremntz of both thr highest run scorerz at d same time.... since sanga is at his peak sl can groom sm young kid while sanga is still thr..... thtz y mahela is a team man.....

    nwy wteva said n done, he hs been a fabulous player.... those delicate late cutz...pullz along d carpet.... sqaure cut.... n d mere push cover drive....undoubtdly Slz all time best player f spi..thtz wt iv njoyd f him fr soo mny yrz.... bt if im nt mstkn he ws d most adaptd SL batsmn accross all formatz test,odi n esp t20... showd d world tht t20 is nt alwyz abt muscl n power.... thtz whr he is amngst d best.....

    a captain...took d team to 2 WC finalz.... spclly d 2nd tym... showd d wrld a diffrnt style.... d boring middle ovrz in ODI sddnly chngd wth attackng n run savng fieldz.... great player..... i hope tht he getz d best sent off he deservz

  • POSTED BY sarangsrk on | July 16, 2014, 7:22 GMT

    I have been a big fan of his classical batting but am afraid, to compare him with Aravinda DeSilva is little too far fetched. Going by Mahela's stats, he only has total of 4 test centuries in Aus, Eng, NZ and SA over 31 tests. Actually, none in South Africa. You would think a batting great and a mainstay of the SL batting for number of years, he should have had more centuries which actually win you tests abroad and not just pretty 30s-40s.

  • POSTED BY anilmaheshwari on | July 16, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    feei sad to hear your retirement plan Mahela, you will definately go down as one of the greatest cricketer in tn the history of test cricket and certainlty the greatest crickter along with Sangakara Sri Lanka has ever produced. wish you all the best for new beginning. Now its turn for Sangakara ???

  • POSTED BY getsetgopk on | July 16, 2014, 6:23 GMT

    A unique player, the kind of calm he exudes on and off the field is certainly one of a kind and is a breath of fresh air in this day and age. You dont see many players these days with such calm and elegance except for Amla of course. He's has a stellar record as a batsman, the one country he didn't do particularly well against is Pakistan. This could be because Pak had a superior bowling attack and in particular there was an element of bruteness to Pak's bowling. That kind of brute force didn't really let him play his strokes in that elegant manner that he so often does against other sides. Non the less he's been a pillar over the years for SL along Sanga and would go down as one of SL's finest batsmen ever. He's been part of a WT20 and a series win in England, that for a small island nation, is a punch above their weight. It will be an honor for my team, Pakistan that he'll be playing his last test and he'll find himself amongst his closest friends on that final day.

  • POSTED BY the_blue_android on | July 16, 2014, 6:05 GMT

    How many centuries does he have outside of SL?

  • POSTED BY dinna1 on | July 16, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    Mahiya , we will miss you, there is no 2 words, you are the best captain in sri lanka we ever had ,

  • POSTED BY Yasassri on | July 16, 2014, 5:55 GMT

    he should have continued for another year. why this decision, he has talent to overcome bad situation and no one coming through to replace him yet !!!!, even though he lost the record of 'leading run getter in Tests for Sri Lanka' to Sangakkara, his willingness to end his test career with high note but playing 150 test for Sri lanka ignored ???

  • POSTED BY on | July 16, 2014, 5:36 GMT

    If he's not the best he's one of the best with Aravinda...Classy & noble player...one of games greatest tacticians...a simple man..hats off to u..Maiya..All the best !!!

  • POSTED BY Prem2248 on | July 16, 2014, 4:01 GMT

    I have always thought Mahela as the best Test Cricket Captain of this Country, after Ranjan Madugalle whose (Madugalle's) stint was cut short by a man, responsible for ruining the entire Cricket setup in the Country. Our Cricket is dying a slow death at present, mainly due to ignoring the talented & deserving Youth. T'ments held for the year and the number matches in those too have been drastically reduced, which is unheard of among other Test playing countries. After his retirement Our Cricket badly needs his intelligence & service to resurrect this position. Only hope is that he'll stay here and help our extremely talented youth like AngeloPerera, RoshenSilva,MalindaPushpakumara,Niroshan Dickwella, TharinduKhausal, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrema, PriyamalPerera,...to find their due place in the Team. We as fans don't want those (in the Teams both the 1st & 2nd XIs) who were tested over and over again found to be useless.

  • POSTED BY Marcel_Ci on | July 16, 2014, 4:00 GMT

    the way mahela has carried his career is really amazing. in my personal view, keeping in mind the captaincy burden & expectations of huge SL fans he is rated above some of the Aus, SA & ENG players. a touch above his asian counterparts too like sachin, rahul dravid, mohd yousuf & inzmam ul haq. god bless mahela. u were the best player in 2000s.

  • POSTED BY Prabhash1985 on | July 16, 2014, 2:26 GMT

    Come on Mahela, it's NOT the right time! Don't leave now, you have at least one more year left in Tests. Please please reconsider your decision. This is not right.

  • POSTED BY Sexysteven on | July 16, 2014, 1:48 GMT

    Give sanga time he's letting everyone else pay there tributes to Mahela being his best mate he prob wants to have the final say when he pays tribute to Mahela and I think that's appropriate he's played with Mahela more then anyone else so he should be the last to speak cos I'm sure whatever sanga says will mean a lot more to Mahela then what everyone else says plus he's prob planning the greatest farewell party of all time lol

  • POSTED BY Hush78 on | July 16, 2014, 0:33 GMT

    May be sanga don't like mahelas decision that he is not coming forward with his remarks. These 2 have been doing great things for Sri Lankan cricket for so many years and it will be very difficult to see them leave the game.i hope sanga will play at least 2-3 years more as he seem to be very fit to do so.l

  • POSTED BY xylo on | July 15, 2014, 18:06 GMT

    His batting record speaks for itself, but Mahela has been the most tactical person in the SL team for a while. The team will surely miss him.

  • POSTED BY Indians-love-flattracks on | July 15, 2014, 16:52 GMT

    One of the most technically gifted players. Hat's off Mahela, you've been a top cricketer.

  • POSTED BY Kinguru007. on | July 15, 2014, 16:16 GMT

    Maiya will be in the all time best captain list for sure. He had his own way of handling things. I hope he reach the 12'000 runs within the next 4 games.

  • POSTED BY on | July 15, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    What a legend of the game. As a kiwi supporter I always found time to follow Mahela, and as a massive fan of the game I'm sooooo glad I did! Absolute class mate - enjoy the golden years reflecting on a truly great cricketing career.

  • POSTED BY on | July 15, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    rukii- I bet Sanga will write his tribute in an article that will be published. And perhaps he'll wait till later, when Mahela has actually retired.

  • POSTED BY Dan2982 on | July 15, 2014, 13:13 GMT

    ya where is Sanga? Hope he is not planing his retirement

  • POSTED BY on | July 15, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    Wait, is Maharoof retired from internationals!? It says 'former sri lanka allrounder' next to his name...

  • POSTED BY on | July 15, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    He is one of the all time greats for the entire cricketing world.

  • POSTED BY rukii on | July 15, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    no words from sanga? , Best friend and batting partner of most of innings ?.

  • POSTED BY rukii on | July 15, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    no words from sanga? , Best friend and batting partner of most of innings ?.

  • POSTED BY on | July 15, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    He is one of the all time greats for the entire cricketing world.

  • POSTED BY on | July 15, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    Wait, is Maharoof retired from internationals!? It says 'former sri lanka allrounder' next to his name...

  • POSTED BY Dan2982 on | July 15, 2014, 13:13 GMT

    ya where is Sanga? Hope he is not planing his retirement

  • POSTED BY on | July 15, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    rukii- I bet Sanga will write his tribute in an article that will be published. And perhaps he'll wait till later, when Mahela has actually retired.

  • POSTED BY on | July 15, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    What a legend of the game. As a kiwi supporter I always found time to follow Mahela, and as a massive fan of the game I'm sooooo glad I did! Absolute class mate - enjoy the golden years reflecting on a truly great cricketing career.

  • POSTED BY Kinguru007. on | July 15, 2014, 16:16 GMT

    Maiya will be in the all time best captain list for sure. He had his own way of handling things. I hope he reach the 12'000 runs within the next 4 games.

  • POSTED BY Indians-love-flattracks on | July 15, 2014, 16:52 GMT

    One of the most technically gifted players. Hat's off Mahela, you've been a top cricketer.

  • POSTED BY xylo on | July 15, 2014, 18:06 GMT

    His batting record speaks for itself, but Mahela has been the most tactical person in the SL team for a while. The team will surely miss him.

  • POSTED BY Hush78 on | July 16, 2014, 0:33 GMT

    May be sanga don't like mahelas decision that he is not coming forward with his remarks. These 2 have been doing great things for Sri Lankan cricket for so many years and it will be very difficult to see them leave the game.i hope sanga will play at least 2-3 years more as he seem to be very fit to do so.l