With exit of players like Sachin Tendulkar, Jaque Kallis and now Mahela Jayawardene, it is certainly an end of one of the most glorious era of world cricket.
Mahela Jayawardene: Left His Mark!
“The Wall” of Sri Lankan Cricket, as an Indian fan its hard to pass on the tag to some other player but trust me, if any other player in this world deserved this tag then Mahela Jayawardene has to be one of them.
He is amongst the very few players who played test, ODI as well as T20 with same grace, elegance and aggression and achieved success across all formats.
The day when he left the field, curtains drew on the illustrious career that any aspiring cricketer would dream of. There was a smile of satisfaction on his face and on other hand there were tears of joy in eyes of everyone present there fans, family and friends.
His career spanned over 18 years where he started as predominant test player but ended his career which included a T20 100 as well (for KXIP vs KKR in IPL 2010). Batsman known for his sheer class and temperament, who utilized his cricketing acumen to gather run through timing, depth touches and elegant strokes, has left his mark in world cricket.
His thought process and dedication can only be judged by his statements at press conference during his last test match where he said “My most valued day in Tests is the day I got my cap… I've stitched up this cap and managed to wear it for a long time. It’s been with me for almost 15 years now — I feel very honoured to wear it. It’s not easy to let it go, but there will be a lot of young talent waiting to wear this cap, and that’s a great thing. I'm still wearing it on my head, because it’s the last time I can do that”. What better example can anybody get of respect and pride one takes in wearing a national cap?
He was few of those player whose statistics failed to justify his talent to 100% but his record is nothing short of best among the modern masters. In 149 test he accumulated 11814 runs (7th Highest in world cricket) at an average just short of 50 (49.84) with 34 100's (equal to Gavaskar and Lara) and 50 50's. Also he has been a successful member of a league of extraordinary men, who batted at No.4, like Sachin, Lara, Kallis and Javed Miandad where his records stand next only to Sachin Tendulkar.
In ODIs, he played 420 matches and scored 11681 runs at an average of 32.90 and strike rate of 78 with 16 100's and in T20(Domestic and Intl) he played 170 matches with 4000+ runs with average of 28.73 and strike rate almost 130.
India will be the most relieved of the nations among cricketing world with his retirement against whom he played 18 test scored 1822 runs at an average of 67 with 6 100's. And how can India forget the scare he gave in 2011 ICC world Cup final at Wankhede.
Apart from batting he proved his acumen in captaincy where he led Sri Lanka in 38 test and secured win in 18 of those — A Sri Lankan record. He led Sri lanka to finals of the 2007 world cup where he led from the front scoring 548 runs in 11 matches at 60.88.
As a player one does sympathise with him as he played 2 50-over world cup final, 2 T20 world cup finals before finally winning a trophy at 2014 ICC T20 World Cup where Chris Gayle commented “Even the Lords want them(Sangakkara and Jayawardene) to end their career on high” after losing the semi final to Sri Lanka due to unusual hail storm in Bangladesh.
He was surely the go-to man for Sri Lanka apart from Kumar Sangakkara with whom he enjoyed a healthy friendship on and off the field. They share 19 century stand, second only to Dravid and Tendulkar, with an average of 56.50.
Departure of Mahela Jayawardene will not only leave a void in Sri Lanka cricket but also in world cricket. First Sachin Tendulkar then Jacque Kallis and now Mahela Jayawardene, all within a span of 10 months, world cricket will not be the same any more, shoes of these players are too big for any new comer to step into.
Only time will tell how the new generation of cricketers live upto the benchmarks set by the modern greats. Till then will make sure the memories of this cricketing legend stay afresh in our minds for long time to come. And hereby wish this fantastic gentlemen All The Best for all future endeavors.