Only with Mahela Jayawardene have questions been raised. Runs are runs, and have to be earned no matter where you play, but if the scoring is skewed significantly, then it's not ideal.
No one who has seen him bat has failed to be moved to raptures by Jayawardene's artistry. Equally, the lop-sided nature of his statistics in Sri Lanka and away have always put a question mark next to the tally of runs he has scored. Among all batsmen who belong to the 10,000-plus Test runs club, the difference between home and away performances is most stark for Jayawardene.
Tables 1 and 2 give an overall view of this:
(Note: Since the purpose of this analysis is to compare performances in Sri Lanka with those outside Sri Lanka, all matches played at neutral venues have been classified in the ‘Away’ category. Stats updated as on June 19, 2012)
Mahela Jayawardene: Home and Away
|Innings per 100|
|Innings per 50+|
The 10,000 Runs Club: Home and Away differential
|Batsman||Total Runs||Total Inns||Average||Home Runs (Inns) %||Away Runs (Inns) %||Differential|
|Sachin Tendulkar||15470||311||55.45||43.7 (43.4)||56.3 (56.6)||0.6|
|Ricky Ponting||13346||282||52.75||56.5 (52.8)||43.5 (47.2)||7.4|
|Rahul Dravid||13288||286||52.31||42.1 (42.0)||57.9 (58.0)||0.2|
|Jacques Kallis||12379||257||56.78||54.4 (52.1)||45.6 (47.9)||4.6|
|Brian Lara||11953||232||52.89||52.0 (47.8)||48.0 (52.2)||8.4|
|Allan Border||11174||265||50.56||51.4 (54.7)||48.6 (45.3)||-6.6|
|Steve Waugh||10927||260||51.06||52.3 (53.8)||47.7 (46.2)||-3.0|
|Mahela Jayawardene||10440||217||51.18||63.7 (51.6)||36.3 (48.4)||24.2|
|Shivnarine Chanderpaul||10290||243||50.44||52.9 (46.9)||47.1 (53.1)||12.0|
|Sunil Gavaskar||10122||214||51.12||50.1 (50.5)||49.9 (49.5)||-0.8|
Both tables above, however, only give a career snapshot of Jayawardene as a batsman. He did start out with a heavy pro-home tilt, but there have been periods of late when he has had significant performances away too.The second table compares the percentage of total runs against the percentage of total innings both home and away. The Differential is the difference between Home Runs % – Home Innings % and Away Runs % – Away Innings %. It’s a useful way of seeing how divergent the two are, and it’s clear that among the batsmen in the list, Jayawardene’s home and away averages are, by a distance, the most widely divergent. Interestingly enough, the ones who have the least divergence are the three Indians – Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Gavaskar – who have all scored equally at home and away.The first table is self-explanatory. Jayawardene’s average outside Sri Lanka is about 60% of his average in Sri Lanka. He takes twice as long to reach a 50-plus score or a century away from home. It’s also interesting that in spite of 14 fewer Tests away, Mahela has played only seven fewer innings – perhaps a reflection of the fact that Sri Lanka have also been much better at home than away.
A break-up of his career into different phases illustrates this.
Mahela Jayawardene: Career Phases
|Period||Matches||Innings||Runs||Average||Percentage of Inns in SL|
|Debut to March 1999||9||14||695||49.64||64.3|
|Sep 1999 to March 2000||9||14||391||30.08||28.6|
|June 2000 to March 2002||23||36||1869||56.64||77.8|
|May 2002 to June 2003||10||17||588||39.2||23.5|
|Dec 2003 to Aug 2004||12||21||1090||57.37||71.4|
|October 2004 to Apr 2006||15||25||877||38.13||40.0|
|May 2006 to August 2010||35||60||3898||68.39||50.0|
|Nov 2010 to Present||17||30||1032||34.4||40.0|
Notice how closely his average and the percentage of innings played at home are correlated in the table. Whenever Jayawardene has had a large proportion of innings at home, his average has been superlative. When he hasn’t, his average has fallen accordingly. Where it changes most strikingly is the longest period under consideration – May 2006 to August 2010.
During that period, he played only half his innings at home, but still enjoyed some of his best batting form. Nor was his good form restricted only to the subcontinent, with centuries in England, Australia and West Indies. From May 2006 onwards, it indeed seemed as if Jayawardene had left his overseas blues behind him and that his career stats would undergo a course correction.
However, the last year and a half have been a throwback to the pre-2006 days. Jayawardene had poor tours of South Africa and England, and didn’t perform well even on the neutral UAE territory. Paradoxically, the fact that he didn’t do well in the UAE might offer hope for Sri Lanka. It could mean that what led to his poor showing was just an ordinary dip in form and not a return to the past.
The better news for Sri Lanka is, of course, the fact that throughout his dips and rises in form, Jayawardene has turned it on more often than not when playing at home. With a three-Test series against Pakistan starting on Friday and Jayawardene showing good form in the One-Day International series, another run deluge from his bat looks a safe bet.