Mahela Jayawardene yesterday decided to step down as Sri Lanka’s cricket captain after the upcoming Tests in Pakistan, saying he was doing it “in the best interests” of the team.
“This is something I have been considering for some time as it has been my long-held belief that my successor should have at least 18 months in the job to imprint his vision on the team for the 2011 World Cup,” Jayawardene, 31, said in a statement.
Jayawardene’s decision to quit came after India completed a 4-1 rout of Sri Lanka in the recent one-day series.
The middle-order batsman led Sri Lanka for the first time in April 2004.
“After much thought, I have concluded that the right time has now come for fresh leadership to takeover,” Jayawardene said.
“It was not an easy decision to make because being the Sri Lanka captain has been the source of enormous pride. I am very grateful to have been granted the honor of leading the team,” he said.
Jayawardene however made it clear he was not quitting the team altogether.
“I look forward now to extending my full support to my successor and hope to play a major part in the team’s success during coming years as a batsman,” he said.
Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Duleep Mendis said Jayawardene’s resignation had been accepted, but no decision would be made on a new captain until the tour of Pakistan ends.
Jayawardene guided Sri Lanka to the World Cup final in the West Indies in 2007, where they lost to Australia.
He captained Sri Lanka in 26 Tests, winning 15, losing seven with four draws.
In 94 one-day internationals under him, Sri Lanka won 54 and lost 35 while the rest ended in no-results.
During the past three months Jayawardene has struggled with the bat in one-day cricket.
However, his batting record as captain has been excellent with a Test average of 64.70, including 11 centuries in 26 Test matches. In one-day cricket his average in 97 games was 34.22 with four hundreds.
The first Test in Pakistan will be played in Karachi from Feb. 21 to Feb. 25, while the second and final match will be played in Lahore from March 1 to March 5.