Jayawardene ends test career in near-perfect style
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Mahela Jayawardene ended his illustrious 17-year test career in near perfect style in the whitewash win for Sri Lanka against Pakistan on Monday.
A half-century at his home ground, another century stand with his friend and favorite batting partner Kumar Sangakkara, capped with his teammates carrying him off the field on their shoulders.
In retirement he will be preparing a special place in his trophy cabinet for his 15-year test cap as he turns his attention to playing at next year’s World Cup, before quitting international cricket altogether.
He will also be giving more time to his work with the players’ trade union and a cancer hospital project close to heart in memory of his late brother.
In 149 tests since making his debut in 1997, Jayawardene retired Monday on the final day of the second test at the Sinhalese Sports Club with 11,814 career runs at an average of 49.84.
He has 50 half-centuries and 34 centuries.
Jayawardene made his debut against India in 1997 as a 20-year-old and scored a half-century in his first innings which largely went unnoticed because of Sri Lanka’s record breaking 952-6 with Sanath Jayasuriya (340) and Roshan Mahanama (225) in a 576-run partnership.
Later, he himself scored 374 in a record-breaking 624-run partnership with Sangakkara who scored 287 during a test series against South Africa in 2006.
“The decision to retire was something I have been thinking for some time and came to a point I felt that for me the right time was right,” Jayawardene told reporters after the match.
“It was just a gut feeling, but have I always gone with my gut feelings.”
“Given the fact that we don’t have test cricket for another 12 months it’s time for a new generation to take over. I will try and help that rebuilding process as I could.”
In retirement from tests Jayawardene has some plans one which will be to start a cancer hospital project in the southern province through a charity that he is part of.
The organization has built a $ 4 million hospital in northern Jaffna, affected by the country’s quarter-century civil war.
Another would be to make room in his trophy cabinet for his test cap which he has worn for 15 years.
“It has a huge value, I have stitched it and managed to wear it for such a long time,” Jayawardene said pointing at his cap which he wore for a last time.
“It’s been with me for 15 years now, the first two years we had a different cap. I think this will go in my trophy cabinet at the top, have a nice place I have already planned that.”
“It’s not an easy thing to let it go but I think there will be a lot of talent who are waiting to wear this cap which is a great thing,” he said.