His classical batting style, the effortless stroke-play, the crafty cricket brain that made him one of the best captains, and the amazing slip fielder that he is, together with his infectious personality, are all reasons why Mahela Jayawardena is my all-time favourite cricketer.
Jayawardene is one of the best No. 4 batsmen produced by Sri Lanka, Aravinda de Silva of course being the other, but his best cricket has come when he opened in limited-overs cricket, especially on bouncy and fast pitches in Australia.
His ability to find gaps during the power-play and to rotate the strike allows the run-machines Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara to build their innings and bat for a longer period with younger players like Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews.
However, since the chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya has stated that he wants Jayawardene to stay in the middle order, and with Thirimanne being forced to open the batting at the last minute due to the failures by Kusal Perera, Upul Tharanga and Dimuth Karunaratne, it has thrown off the balance the team once had, so the likes of Chandimal and Karunaratne (players who can build innings at a slow pace) should bat at four between the two legends Sangakkara and Jayawardene, pushing Jayawardene to No. 5, followed by Mathews.
Photos by AFP