Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 19th 2014 Contents A56
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, August 19, 2014
"It s been an emotional day but I
promise I won t cry," were Mahela
Jayawardene s first words when he
took the podium following his final
Test. His voice cracked on occasion.
Sadness was writ on his face. But
most memories of his final day in
Tests will be happy ones. Sri Lanka
had swept the series "for Mahela",
fans had shown up in force, and the
institutions that had helped make
him---Nalanda College and SSC---were
present in numbers to celebrate his
final moments as a Test cricketer.
Jayawardene thanked his school and
club following the match, as well as
Sri Lanka Cricket, team-mates, family
members and fans. He spoke light-
heartedly about not pursuing a life in
politics following retirement, largely
because his wife would kick him out
if he did. He joked about his tussles
with media and the board over the
years as well.
But his most sentimental words were
about the fans who have supported
him, and the faded Sri Lanka cap that
has been his companion for 15 years.
"My most valued day in Tests is the
day I got my cap," Jayawardene said.
"To walk into that dressing room and
be with that group of players on Test
debut, and to receive my cap from
captain Arjuna Ranatunga, with all the
other guys being there---it was probably
the best day in my life, and something
I will never forget.
"I ve stitched up this cap and man-
aged to wear it for a long time. It s
been with me for almost 15 years
now---the first few years we had a dif-
ferent cap. It will go in my trophy cab-
inet, right at the top. I ve already
planned that. You can t even touch
Sanga s cap, it s in such a bad state,
but he still plays with it.
"I feel very honoured to wear it. It s
not easy to let it go, but there will be
a lot of young talent waiting to wear
this cap, and that s a great thing. I m
still wearing it on my head, because
it s the last time I can do that."
Among the highlights of Jayawar-
dene s Test career are his 19 century
stands with close friend Kumar San-
gakkara. In their last partnership, they
made 107 to help set up a competitive
target for Pakistan. Sangakkara was
dismissed first, hitting Saeed Ajmal
to short leg.
"I really value my friendship with
Kumar. It s something that has been
built over a long time. When we play
together, we ve done it with a lot of
enjoyment. In that last innings, when
Sanga got out, I did feel quite sad.
That was our last innings in Tests. But
we both know that we ve only got a
short time left in the game.
"I m very happy that I got to play
with him for such a long time. Out of
players that I ve seen over the past six
years, he s the No. 1 batsman. As a
friend I m so proud of what he has
Jayawardene said the away Test vic-
tories---particularly the recent win at
Headingley, and the victory in Durban
in 2012---were the sweetest of his
career. Although he allowed his average
to slip below 50 in his final Test, the
team s victory was more important,
"Coming into this game, I was
pretty determined to try and keep
my average up over 50---that was one
of my challenges. Unfortunately it
didn t happen. I can t lament on that,
and it s not something that I will
lose sleep on."
Jayawardene has been an advocate
for developing young talent in the
latter half of his career, and suggested
he would be keen to work with players
in the Sri Lanka school cricket system,
of which he had been a successful
product. Several Sri Lanka players now
vie to replace him in the XI, but who-
ever takes his place must be given time
and trust in order to succeed, Jayawar-
"If you take a player like Angelo
Mathews, he has been able to play six
or so years, and now he s successful.
Some players can have ups and downs,
but we need to be patient with them.
Some players maybe haven t coped
mentally, but they have time to correct
those things. We have a lot of faith in
the players that are there now, and
that s why we give them a lot of
Kumar Sangakkara, left and Mahela Jayawardene posed for one last photo in whites © AFP
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