Jayawardene: I have no regrets about my career


Sometimes the word 'legend' or 'great' is thrown around loosely when speaking about players, but after playing 149 Tests, 448 ODIs and 55 T20s for his country, one can safely say that Mahela Jayawardene is both.

In an international career that spanned nearly two decades for Sri Lanka, Jayawardene was certainly one of the best players of his generation, not just as a batsman but also a captain, and not forgetting his slip catching.

The right-handed batsman went on to score 11 814 runs in the longest format of the game at an average of 49.84, as well as 12 650 in the 50-over format. He also took more than 400 catches in international cricket.

This is a man who scored a match-winning century in the 2007 World Cup semi-final, then captained his country in the showpiece game. Four years later, this time not as captain, Jayawardene scored a another hundred in the final of the global tournament. Despite scoring those runs, he and his country never won cricket's showpiece event.

In the white clothing, Mahela batted for more than 12 hours to score 374 against a South Africa bowling attack that included Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini. And he scored a century a Lord's, so his name will forever be up in lights at the Home of Cricket.

After a lot of near misses with Sri Lanka failing to win the World Cup, Jayawardene finally got to lift a global trophy when they won the World T20 in 2014 against India.

Jayawardene was everything that is good about cricket. A classical batsman with poise, class, humility and grit. And he was not shy to give a word back to the opposition if he thought it was needed, definitely no soft touch.

He ended his international career after this year's World Cup, when Sri Lanka bowed out at the quarter-final stage, and walked away a happy a man, knowing he gave as much as he could.

When asked if he had any regrets, Jayawardene told Cricket365: "No regrets at all. I mean 18 years is a long time to be an international cricketer, not many people have been able to do that.

"I have been very lucky with injuries and various other things, like my form. I was very consistent in all three formats of the game and contributed to the best of my ability and won lots of matches and tournaments for my country, which is the ultimate goal.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the players all those years and the challenge that I have had in front of me. I felt it was the right time to leave international cricket and leave it to the next generation."

Since retiring from the international game, the now 38-year-old Jayawardene has been playing in a few T20 tournaments around the world. He completed a stint with Sussex in the T20 Blast in England and also played for the Jamaica Tallawahs in the CPL.

So how long does he plan on playing at a high level? When will he finally call time on a glorious career? The man himself is not sure.

He was recently linked to the role of batting consultant with the England team but says there is no truth to that story as he has spoken to no-one at the ECB.

He did however say that he plans on staying in the game when he finally calls time on his playing days, but not on a full-time basis.

He says: "I don't know so I won't set a date or a time to go, I just finished international cricket this year so I feel I still have a little bit left in me.

"I will see how it goes. I had a really good T20 Blast with Sussex. I will see how my body is holding up but as long I'm enjoying my cricket is all the matters. I will assess things after each tournament or every three months and see what I want to do.

"I haven't really thought about what I want to do (after playing). You don't want to have the same lifestyle that you had as an international cricketer.

"I would still want to be part of the cricket fraternity but not in a full role, at least for a while. I want to spend some time with my family and have some quality time at home."

With Jayawardene and his good mate Kumar Sangakkara deciding to call time on their international careers, what does the future hold for Sri Lankan cricket?

With their two stalwarts not there for the first time in almost 15 years, Sri Lanka have just lost a Test and ODI series at home to Pakistan. Jayawardene though is not worried, saying his country will come good again.

He says passionately: "I am positive about Sri Lanka cricket but what you have to realise is that they will be going through a transitional period.

"A few big players have retired and the experience factor is not going to be there for a little while. The youngsters have been around for quite some time now. We have to patient with them and give them a chance to flourish.

"The talent we have is really good. This was the first series after a few players retired so I'm sure they will be better the next series."

If Mahela is positive about his country's cricket future then who are we to argue.

Nasri Alexander