Just weeks after the retirement of Jacques Kallis, Test cricket is set to lose another of its star names when Mahela Jayawardene bows out of the five-day format at the culmination of Sri Lanka’s current series with Pakistan.
The 37-year-old is presently playing in his penultimate Test match, before he wins his final cap in his home city of Colombo later this month.
It will be a sad sight when the former Sri Lanka captain finally leaves the field, however, he will still be available for the 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand at the beginning of next year.
For as long as a lot of people can remember, Jayawardene has been an ever-present in the game. Alongside best friend, Kumar Sangakkara, he has been a stalwart for the
entirety of this century thus far.
The right-hander made his five-day debut in 1997 and has subsequently scored 34 Test tons. An average just above 50 is testament to the reliability and consistency of one of the game’s greatest ever performers.
His highest score of 374 – which came on his home ground against South Africa in 2006 – is the fourth-best individual score in Test history.
In that same match, he shared a world record stand of 624 with Sangakkara, as Sri Lanka convincingly won by an innings and 153 runs after posting 756 at Colombo.
He often found his best form against England, scoring 2,212 runs and recording eight centuries in Test matches against the Three Lions.
Earlier this year, Jayawardene was part of the Sri Lankan side that ended their nation’s wait for another international competition victory. Following the World Cup success of 1996, they had to be patient until 2014 to lift another trophy.
The World T20 success in Bangladesh eased the anguish of runners-up finishes at both the 2007 and 2011 50-over World Cups.
A century in the 2007 WC semi-final against New Zealand provided his team with passage to the final – where they would lose to Australia. Jayawardene was the second-highest scorer at that tournament, scoring one hundred and four half-centuries.
The first Sri Lankan to hit a T20 ton, and a Test triple-hundred; Jayawardene’s impressive list of statistics and records just continue to grow.
But one more record still in his sights is surpassing Brian Lara as the fifth-highest all-time Test run scorer. The West Indian batsman is 283 runs ahead of the 37-year-old, although Kumar Sangakkara is also closing in on the legendary left-hander.
Sri Lanka are currently on a high, having won the World T20 and beaten England away in both Test and ODI series respectively. A recent 1-0 loss to South Africa can be rectified
with a series win over Pakistan – who are currently ranked third in the world.
It will be a great occasion when Jayawardene bows out of Test action on his home ground, and a victory would make that exit even sweeter.