25,957 runs, 54 centuries and 136 fifties in international cricket. A man who played five ICC World Cup final (2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 & 2014)
Mahela Jayawardene is better defined as a prolific, stylish, and totally classy batsman with a voracious thirst for runs, as well as a calm yet forceful skipper.
Even when he first reached the international arena, his batsmanship was undeniable, but Jayawardene’s hardest problem has been to live up to the early hype. With almost 10,000 runs in both Tests and ODIs, as well as a captaincy that featured a World Cup final appearance, it’s easy to say he’s more than equal to the task.
Blessed with excellent hand-eye coordination and a fine technique, Jayawardene scores his runs all around the wicket. Among his favourite strokes are the languid cover-drive – often with minimal footwork but precise placement and timing – and the wristy flick off his legs, but there are several others he plays with equal felicity. The most memorable are the cuts and dabs he plays behind the stumps, mostly off spinners, but also against quick bowling, when bat makes contact with ball delightfully late. Apart from his artistry, what stands out about his batting is his hunger for big scores, most apparent in his record 624-run partnership with Kumar Sangakkara, but also in the regularity with which he notches up Test double-hundreds. And his century against Zimbabwe in the World Twenty20 in 2010 was a shining example of traditional methods succeeding in a new format.
Jayawardene is easily one of the most elegant batsmen of his generation, but the major drawback in his career is his relative lack of success in overseas conditions. His averages in Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand are all less than 35, but at home he averages more than 60.
In the second half of his career, Jayawardene grew into an astute captain who read the game well and wasn’t afraid to take risks. Under him, Sri Lanka shed their diffident approach, winning Tests in England and New Zealand, and – in what was Jayawardene’s greatest achievement as captain – reached the final of the 2007 World Cup. He quit captaincy in February 2009, but agreed to a second stint, taking over from Tillakaratne Dilshan after the tour to South Africa in 2011-12, but resigned again after a year, handing the reins to Angelo Mathews.
His limited overs batting has improved with age, and an increasing stroke repertoire has seen Jayawardene become almost as impressive an innovator at the crease, as he is a technician. An unbeaten 103 from 88 balls in the 2011 World Cup final made plain his limited overs prowess, and marked him out as a big-match player, having already made a century in the semi-final of the same tournament four years ago. – ESPN
Writer: S Rajesh and ESPNcricinfo staff