Gentleman Jayawardene, the elegant run-machine

Mahela Jayawardene

COLOMBO, August 18, 2014 (AFP) – One of the game’s most elegant stroke-makers, Mahela Jayawardene, enjoyed a fitting farewell to Test cricket at his home ground as Sri Lanka completed a 2-0 series sweep against Pakistan on Monday. Few cricketers exemplified the spirit of the game better than the gentlemanly 37-year-old, though his pleasant demeanour hid nerves of steel, a calculating, street-smart mind and an obsessive drive for perfection.

His final innings at his favourite Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in Colombo on Sunday had been yet another classy knock of 54 that saw him complete the milestone of a half century of Test fifties.

He had retired from Twenty20 internationals after Sri Lanka’s title-winning campaign in the World T20 in April, but will continue in the 50-over game hoping to compete in next year’s one-day World Cup in Australia.

Jayawardene is one of only five batsmen to score more than 11,000 runs in both Test and one-day cricket — the others being Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and team-mate Kumar Sangakkara.

That he finished with an average of 49.84 over 149 Tests with 34 hundreds, six times passing 200, illustrates his irrepressible hunger for runs through a 17-year-career.