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Mahela Jayawardene: Gut feeling prompted to quit Test cricket

Mahela Jayawardene retired from Test cricket with the end of Sri Lanka-Pakistan Test series © AFP
Mahela Jayawardene retired from Test cricket with the end of Sri Lanka-Pakistan Test series © AFP

Colombo: Aug 18, 2014

Mahela Jayawardene on Monday said a “gut feeling” prompted him to quit Test cricket as he turned his attention to one last World Cup campaign after near-misses in 2007 and 2011. The modest former Test captain, one of only five batsmen to top 11,000 runs in both Test and one-day cricket, bowed out after Sri Lanka sealed a 2-0 Test series win over Pakistan.

“Players come and go, but the game continues,” the 37-year-old said, after ending a 17-year Test career in which he became one of the great batsmen of modern times.

Jayawardene was hoisted onto his team-mates’ shoulders and warmly congratulated by Sri Lanka’s president after ending his Test career at Colombo’s Sinhalese Sports Club stadium. It was a fitting place for his farewell after he shared in a record 624 Test partnership with Kumar Sangakkara there in 2006 and amassed 2,921 Test runs at the venue — the most by any batsman at a single ground.

Jayawardene, who retired from Twenty20 internationals after Sri Lanka became world champions in April, said he would concentrate on one-day matches until next year’s World Cup.

“I am not sure I will be selected for the World Cup, but I will focus on one-day cricket,” said Jayawardene ahead of the one-day series against Pakistan starting this week.

Jaywardene was captain when Sri Lanka made the World Cup final in 2007, losing to Australia. He also scored a century in the final of the 2011 edition won by India. He said Sri Lanka, who won the World Cup in 1996, would prosper without him — as it had done after the Test retirement of world bowling record-holder Muttiah Muralitharan in 2010.

“When Murali retired, people said we won’t win without him,” the former captain said. “But we are still doing well. There are others who will do even better than us.”

Jayawardene added that he felt he had quit at the right time despite still showing good form with the bat.

“I took the decision to retire after a lot of serious thought,” he said. “I was fortunate to have played for 17 years so it was not an easy decision to make. But I think the time was right to go. It was a gut feeling and I have always gone by my gut feelings in the past. We do not have many Tests for a year now. I have played enough and it is time for the younger players to take over.

“I have very pleasant memories of my career. I enjoyed this phase of my life, I learnt a lot and good things entered my life. I cherish every moment of it.” Jayawardene finished with 11,814 runs in 149 Tests with 34 centuries, but his average dropped from 50.02 to 49.84 after making four and 54 in his final Test against Pakistan.

Jayawardene said retiring one Test short of his 150th appearance did not matter to him. He also said he was not interested in becoming a coach.

“To be a coach, one needs a lot of commitment and I don’t think I have the patience for that… But I will continue to guide young players because they are the future of the game in the country,” he said.

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