Sri Lanka are hoping to give former captain Mahela Jayawardene a memorable farewell by winning the last four Tests of his career against South Africa and Pakistan, skipper Angelo Mathews said on Tuesday.
“We sent both Sanga (Kumar Sangakkara) and Mahela off (from the Twenty20 format) in a magnificent way in Bangladesh by winning the World Twenty20 so if we can send Mahela off by winning all four Tests it will be great,” Mathews said ahead of Wednesday’s first Test against South Africa in Galle.
South Africa are due to play two Tests in the series with the second in Colombo from July 24-28.
The series will be followed by two Tests against Pakistan at Galle from Aug. 6-10 and in Colombo from Aug. 14-18.
“When I walked into the national team he was my first captain and I learnt a lot by looking at him by what he is doing on and off the field and the way he handles situations,” the 27-year-old all-rounder added.
On Monday, the 37-year-old Jayawardene announced he would be retiring from Test cricket at the end of the Pakistan series.
“Mahela made his decision a couple of days ago and he had a chat with me as well. Every good thing comes to an end and it’s going to be a massive loss,” Mathews said.
“He’s been tremendous for us in the past 15 years or so scoring a lot of runs, his contribution to the team is unbelievable.
“He’s decided that he is going to quit so we got to respect it and move on.
“It’s going to be a big loss and to fill his shoes is going to be a tough challenge for all of us.”
This will be the first series for South Africa without their long-standing captain Graeme Smith, who has retired, but Mathews felt it would not make much difference for the visitors.
“Changing the captain doesn’t really matter because they still got those players in the team and they are a very strong team to beat whether you play them at home or away as they showed us in the one-day series,” Mathews said.
South Africa won the three-match one-day international series 2-1 to record their first series win in that format in Sri Lanka.
“They are a very balanced team and we have to be at our best to beat them, it’s a huge challenge,” Mathews said.
“We know the conditions but we got to play good cricket to beat them. Hopefully the guys will turn up and sharpen their game and win.”