Would be hard to play without Mahela Jayawardene: Kumar Sangakkara

Colombo: Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara has said it would be difficult to fill the shoes of Mahela Jayawardene, who ended his 17-year-long Test career here Sunday.

Sangakkara shared several big partnerships, including the world record 624-run stand against South Africa in 2006, with Jayawardene,

"We can’t expect someone to fill Mahela’s shoes in the same way. Mahela didn’t play as well as he does now from his first innings. When a new batsman comes in and we’re measuring him and comparing him, it’s not fair to compare him with Mahela. That player has a chance to join the team, play for many years, carve out a standing in the team and maybe in three or four years aim to get the kind of runs and centuries Mahela has," Sangakkara was quoted as saying by The Island.

"You have to give someone that chance. You can’t judge players on one or two days or from five or 10 matches. Our young players are talented and they work hard. When they get that chance, they will make a name for themselves in the future," he said.

Sangakkara admitted that it would be hard to play Test cricket without his good friend Jaywardene.

"It’s hard to say what it’s like. What it will be like the next day you play a Test match. I think it will really sink in while you’re in New Zealand. Right now, I think the guys are just coming to terms with the fact that Mahela is going to retire from Test cricket, but I think that all the emotions will all come out when we next take the field without him in the ranks. That’s when you can really explain what you feel and you can really take stock of what the team is like and the dressing room atmosphere is like without Mahela in it," he said.

Asked about Jayawardene`s impressive Test average of 49.84, Sangakkara said: "It just depends on how you feel about it personally. People will always say whether you’re 49.85 or 50 or 60 or 70, they will always measure you in different ways. I don’t think it will ever impact what Mahela’s achieved negatively. If you want to say, ‘He’s not there in the club of 50-plus averages’, it doesn’t really matter."

Sangakkara said that for Jayawardene it has never been about the averages.

"It’s always been about playing each game as it comes. Many years down the line, he, his children and his family can look back and be very proud of what he’s achieved - whether it’s 49.85 or 50 or 51. It doesn’t really matter," he said.

The former Sri Lanka captain said the best parting gift for Jayawardene would have been a win and the team did it in style against Pakistan here at the Sinhalese Sports Club.

"As a team and a player we knew about Mahela’s retirement but we didn’t want to think only about that but to perform as a team that’s what we spoke about from the first day. Because if we were to give him a fitting farewell the best thing we could do is to send him off with a win. We all know about Mahela... he will be greatly missed by the team in the future. This is what sports is like... sportsmen come and go and others will take over," he said.