Sri Lanka's legendary off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan showered accolades on the 37-year-old Mahela Jayawardene, after the star top-order batsman decided to call time on his Test career.
Regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of the modern era, Jayawardene has 11,493 Test runs at an average of 50.18 to his name. After a glorious 17-year-long Test career, he decided to quit the longest format of the game after Sri Lanka's forthcoming Test series' against South Africa and Pakistan. Â
"He is one of the greatest players who has ever played for Sri Lanka. He has a superb record. We have him and Kumar Sangakkara from the younger group, but when you consider great Sri Lankan batsmen, he is in that group with Aravinda de Silva and Sanath Jayasuriya, who have all contributed so much to Sri Lankan cricket in the batting side,"Â Muralitharan said, as reported by ESPNCricinfo.
Muralitharan, who has 800 Test wickets to his name, enjoyed a successful time under Jayawardene's captaincy. Jayawardene was also a very crucial part of Muralitharan's career as a fielder at first slip, accounting for 67 of the latter's Test wickets tally.
"He was always good off me, and I preferred him to be at slip because he had very fast reflexes, a good technique and good hands. I think taking slip catches off spinners is one of the hardest things, but he was the best at that."
"He started off at short leg, and he took a lot of catches there as well, before moving into slip. I always felt comfortable with him there."
With a variety of strokes in his repertoire combined with some effortless elegance, Jayawardene has been one of the most prolific batsmen to have played the game. Jayawardene also went on to be one of the few men who mastered the art of not letting captaincy have an adverse impact on his personal form. Under his tutelage, Sri Lanka registered historic Test wins in alien conditions of New Zealand and South Africa and even went on to finish as runners-up in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.
"Mahela was very good with the strategy side of things and setting fields, and again he was one of the best. He understood the game a lot and knew quickly when things were changing. He gave all his players a lot of confidence, and especially backed the youngsters, so that was good," Muralitharan said.
Jayawardene's exit will mark the end of a glorious chapter in Sri Lankan cricket, one that was characterised by relentless penchant for runs and well assisted by exceptional skill and dedication towards the game.