Three years since Mahela Jayawardene bowed out of Test cricket: Sri Lanka in shambles

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first_imgEver since Sri Lanka were awarded Test status in 1982, the island nation has produced some of the finest and most stylish cricketers the sport has ever seen. Sitting at the top half of that list is Mahela Jayawardene, the right-handed batsman from Colombo who went on to become one of the greatest batters of his generation.Jayawardene made his debut in international cricket in 1997 in the first Test against India on his homeground and made an instant impact in the drawn game, scoring 66 off 105 balls batting way down the order at No. 6. (Sri Lanka hurting from India whitewash: what’s plaguing the islanders?)Over the course of the next 17 years, Jayawardene amassed 11,814 runs in 149 Tests at an average of 49.84 with 34 hundreds and 50 half-centuries, thus, finishing his career as the eighth highest run-scorer in history. Just three spots behind his good friend and longtime teammate Kumar Sangakkara.#OnThisDay in 2014 Sri Lanka legend @MahelaJay bowed out from Test cricket after 149 Tests with 11,816 runs & 34 centuries, averaging 49.84. ICC (@ICC) August 18, 2017Jayawardene became the first Sri Lankan batsman to cross the 10,000-run mark in Test cricket but was eventually overtaken by Sangakkara, who scored 12,400 runs in 134 matches at 57.40.The 374 runs Jayawardene scored against South Africa at the SSC in 2006 remains to this day the highest score by a right-handed batsman in Test history. And he had his best mate for company during that innings as the duo added a world record 624 runs for the third wicket to help Sri Lanka win by an innings and 153 runs against the Proteas.advertisementThe duo formed the backbone of the Sri Lankan batting lineup along with veteran Sanath Jayasuriya at the top of the order and took the responsibility on their shoulders after Jayasuriya retired in 2007.(Reuters Photo)Jayawardene took over the captain’s post in 2006 and led the team in 38 Test matches with 18 wins, 12 losses and eight draws, the same record as Jayasuriya had as skipper from 1999-2000. The duo are the most successful Test captains for Sri Lanka.Besides his Test records, Jayawardene was an equally dangerous ODI batsman and scored 12650 runs in 448 matches at 33.37 with 19 hundreds and 77 fifties, making him the fifth highest run-getter in the format and again three places behind Sangakkara (14,234 runs in 404 ODIs).In his last Test, Jayawardene scored 4 and 54 runs in two innings as Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 105 runs at Colombo, the same place where he made his debut.With Sangakkara and Jayawardene in the team, Sri Lanka reached the top of the ODI and T20I rankings while occupying second place in the Test rankings. Once a great team revered all around world cricket, has now been reduced to the bottom-half of the table once the two legends retired.Jayawardene quit the Test format August 18 in 2014 while Sangakkara retired exactly a year later. Since then the Sri Lankan Test team has been on the decline with veterans Angelo Mathews and Rangana Herath failing to inspire the team.Jayawardene getting a guard of honour (Reuters Photo)They lost their second consecutive home series against India recently, having lost 1-2 in 2015 as well and a month prior to that they finished last in Group B in the ICC Champions Trophy having won just one match out of three in the eight-team event. In March Zimbabwe visited the country and stunned Mathews’ team 3-2 in the five-match ODI series.Sri Lankan supporters have been growing impatient at the appalling rate at which their cricket team’s decline has taken place but credit to the fans for they still haven’t stopped supporting the team even after witnessing so many losses in the last couple of years.But they deserve way better than the quality of cricket the team has dished out off late. Every team goes through a transitional phase when experienced players retire from the sport but Sri Lanka’s worries just don’t seem to end. Fitness is another key issue which their players have been struggling with which has added to their poor performance in all formats.This great nation needs to find inspiration from somewhere which can help them control their decline. A team which had the fearsome duo of Sanga, Mahela along with some great names like Jayasuriya, Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva before them, is now left completely directionless.last_img read more