Mahela Jayawardene: Legend leaving the Test Arena !

[big_title]Mahela Jayawardene: Legend leaving the Test Arena ![/big_title]

Sri Lanka, 1997-2014

MahelaHe is elegant, he oozes class, and he is one of the best fielders in the world in the slip cordon. He is the joint leading run scorer in tests for Sri Lanka, and has won the most caps in the longest version of the game in his country’s history. I am, of course, talking about Mahela Jayawardene, who has announced his retirement from test cricket.

His departure from the test arena means a loss of a legend in the cricket history and a towering figure in Sri Lankan cricket over the last ten years. This also means that we will no longer be able to witness one of the most productive partnerships in test cricket history, his partner being Sangakara of course, who once put together 624 runs with him against South Africa.

Mahela and SangaThat innings saw him finish on a personal best score of 374, the highest test score by any Sri Lankan batsman, or for that matter, any Asian batsman. This is the Asia of Gavaskar, Zaheer Abbas, Miandad, Dravid and Tendulkar, who were all surprised by this stylish right hander from Colombo during the course of that landmark innings in the SSC, his home ground.

Having played 145 test matches so far, Jayawardene has currently scored 11,493 test runs, sixth on the all-time list, at an average of just above 50, with 33 centuries. That is an achievement in itself considering that for the most part of his 18 year test career, he has been a part of an up and coming side that are yet to reach their potential in this version of the game.

As prolific as he is in front of the wicket, what has been a standout quality is his talent behind the wicket, where he makes sharp chances look like pieces of cake. His 197 catches are a testament to his ability and his slip fielding will be a part of the legacy he leaves behind.

He was touted from an early age as the next big thing in Sri Lankan cricket, even before he arrived in the international arena. What remained was to justify the hype; and even a fleeting glance at his record shows that he more than lived up to expectations.

Mahela Test

He was handed the command of the Sri Lankan side after Attapattu, and he responded in a manner befitting of a cricketer such as himself. He showed a remarkable cricketing brain, and also earned himself a Wisden Cricketer of the Year award in 2007 for his individual performances. He also led his country to the final of the World Cup in 2007 before stepping down.

His departure after Sri Lanka’s series against Pakistan later this year sees a modern batting legend leave the test arena. At 37, his is perhaps the right decision, plus he is still around in the ODIs; but his meaningful presence in the dressing room will surely be missed.

Mubashir Ahmed. (Sports writer int3ger)

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