Jayawardene steps down as SL captain

Colombo: Mahela Jayawardene has decided to step down as captain of the Sri Lankan cricket team after the country’s upcoming tour of Pakistan. Jayawardene announced his decision through a media release yesterday following a meeting with the national selection committee.

His decision to step down comes after Sri Lanka were mauled 4-1 by India in the recent five match ODI series at home and there’s been a public outcry for him to be removed as captain after successive failures.

“Mahela has decided to step down as captain after the Pakistan series and he will address the media tomorrow at the SLC headquarters,” Chief Executive of the board Duleep Mendis told .

Ever since leading the team to the World Cup finals in 2007, Jayawardene became the first Sri Lankan captain to lose a home series to England in 2007 October and followed that up with a first ever series defeat to India in August 2008.

Mahela Jayawardene will step down as Sri Lanka's captain after the upcoming Test series in Pakistan

There were also series defeats against West Indies and Pakistan away from home and the team failed to qualify for the tri-nation Commonwealth Bank finals in Australia that also involved India.

During his charge, the Sri Lankan team won the Asia Cup and a series against Pakistan, but overall, the team’s performance had taken a downward slope.

Since the 2007 World Cup, Jayawardene had captained the team in 49 ODIs winning 25 games, but of those wins 13 came against minnows Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and United Arab Emirates.

However, the team had done well under Jayawardene’s captaincy with series wins against England and India at home and squared a two match series in the West Indies.

Jayawardene also had struggled for form in ODIs having managed just one half-century in his last 17 ODI innings.

“In the best interests of the Sri Lanka team, I have decided to stand down as Sri Lanka captain after this Pakistan tour. 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 said in a statement.

"It was not an easy decision to make because being Sri Lanka National Captain has been the source of enormous pride."

“After much thought, I have concluded that the right time has now come for fresh leadership to takeover. It was not an easy decision to make because being Sri Lanka National Captain has been the source of enormous pride,” he added in the statement.

Jayawardene also lost public support after an ugly standoff with the board to skip a Test tour to England to keep the players Indian Premier League contracts in tact.

Kumar Sangakkara, Jayawardene’s deputy for a long time is tipped to take over the leadership role on a permanent basis