The huge gulf in Mahela Jayawardene's home and away averages

Mahela Jayawardene (left) is dominant at home, but doesn’t boast of good numbers overseas. © Getty Images

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

Under the scorching sun at Galle, the inspired English bowlers were involved in an intense battle with the Sri Lankan captain, Mahela Jayawardene. The tourists kept pegging the hosts with regular strikes, but even as the batsmen struggled, Jayawardene looked a class apart by producing some scintillating strokeplay. The fact that he scored nearly 60 per cent (180) of Sri Lanka’s total (318) speaks volumes of his magnificent effort. With this knock, Jayawardene has reaffirmed his supreme dominance on testing subcontinental tracks.

 

Despite scoring over 10,000 runs in both Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODIs), Jayawardene isn’t mentioned in the same breath as modern greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid. A lot of it has to do with the huge gulf between his Test record at home and away. In Sri Lanka, Jayawardene is prolific, with runs flowing from his bat at a torrential rate. In alien conditions, that dominating batting is conspicuous by its absence.

Let us have a look at a break-up of Jayawardene’s Test numbers at home and away. Here they are:

 

 

T

Runs

Avg

100s

50s

Highest

Overall

129

10271

50.84

30

40

374

Home

71

6477

63.50

21

29

374

Away

54

3691

40.11

9

11

275

Neutral

4

103

12.87

0

0

39

 

Jaywardene’s scores in the ongoing Galle Test against England have been factored

 

The difference between Jayawardene’s home and away average is a staggering 23.39. Adjustment and success in foreign conditions is the hallmark of a true great player. These players are able to maintain the high standards they set at home even in the most testing conditions abroad. Jayawardene is a good player and is a delight to watch when on song. But, due to this anomaly there is a reluctance to categorise him alongside Tendulkar, Kallis etc.

 

Average break-ups of the modern greats

 

Let us have a look at the difference in averages at home and away for Tendulkar, Kallis, Dravid, Lara and Ponting. Here are the relevant numbers:

 

Player

Avg at Home

Avg Away

Difference

Dravid

51.35

53.03

-1.68

Tendulkar

56.37

54.74

1.63

Kallis

58.59

53.18

5.41

Lara

58.65

47.80

10.85

Ponting

58.95

46.97

11.98

 

Dravid and Tendulkar are the only batsmen on the list who have scored at similar rates irrespective of the setup. In fact, Dravid’s average away from home is higher than his returns in India. This phenomenon reflects his value to India’s successful charge abroad in the 2000s. A difference of over 10 is too high for quality players like Lara and Ponting, but their away average is healthy – around the 47 mark. In comparison, Jayawardene’s away average of 40.11 is too low for a man of his calibre. Furthermore, he has scored 70% of his centuries at home. Compared to the greats mentioned, the discrepancy isn’t so huge.

 

Comparison with other Sri Lankans

 

Sri Lanka doest not play too many matches overseas. It is interesting to note that despite playing international cricket for over a decade, Jayawardene hasn’t featured in a Test at Melbourne, Sydney, Perth or Adelaide. All said and done, it is inexplicable how a batsman blessed with Jayawardene’s technique and temperament hasn’t had a record that is befitting his talents. Sri Lankan batsmen such as Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilan Smaraweera – men who aren’t as talented as the Sri Lankan captain, have better overseas averages.

 

Here is a list of Sri Lankan batsmen with the highest away averages:

 

Player

Avg at Home

Avg Away*

Difference

Dilshan

41.32

41.20

0.12

Samaraweera

58.70

47.08

11.62

Sangakkara

60.76

47.17

13.59

Jayawardene

63.50

40.11

23.39

*does not include matches played at neutral venues.

 

The gap between Sangakkara and Samarweera’s respective averages is high, but they have managed average in the high 40s on away tours. Interestingly, Dilshan scores at near similar rates.

 

Notable names with a wide gulf between home and away averages

 

If one is to go through the record books, one would find that there have been quite a few notable players from yesteryear who haven’t replicated their dominance at home overseas.

 

Here is a list of batsmen with a huge difference between the two averages:

 

Player

Avg at Home

Avg Away

Difference

Clyde Walcott

69.83

40.46

29.37

Mudassar Nazar

53.63

26.56

27.06

Dennis Compton

60.04

36.88

23.16

Dilip Vengsarkar

55.59

32.73

22.85

Desmond Haynes

56.05

33.5

22.54

 Qualification (minimum of 30 innings at home and away)

 

These men have fantastic Test records, but it is the home-away conundrum that dented their numbers. It is astonishing to see such revered names being eclipsed by such anomalies.

 

At 33, Jayawardene is entering the twilight zone of his career. Players like Dravid and Tendulkar have shown that it is possible to raise the bar even past the age of 35. Jayawardene is a thinking cricketer and would be eager to correct the home-away mismatch.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a club-level cricketer with an analytic mind and a sharp eye. It was this sharpness which spotted a wrong replay in IPL4 resulting in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. Some of his analytical pieces have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. Nishad can also be followed on Twitter)