|Mahela Jayawardene with wife and daughter, in Colombo, on Monday
Colombo: Former captain Mahela Jayawardene left the Test scene on Monday vowing to devote his energies towards helping Sri Lanka win another 50-over World Cup, when it is held next year in Australia and New Zealand.
Sri Lanka last won the World Cup in 1996 and were beaten in the final in 2007 and 2011.
The 37-year-old Jayawardene ended his Test career on a high as his team beat Pakistan by 105 runs to take the two-match series 2-0.
Victory sparked memorable scenes with the master batsman congratulated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, before being carried around the ground by his team-mates amid the lighting of firecrackers.
“I don’t know what to say, but I promise I won’t cry,” Jayawardene said at the presentation ceremony as firecrackers went off in the stands.
“I love you all. Thank you so much for the support all these years. I still have a little bit left and I promise I’ll give it my all at the World Cup… Thanks also to my teammates. It’s been great to play for Sri Lanka for so many years. I have always worn this cap with pride and passion.”
“Right now I don’t have any plans and I’ve not signed any contracts,” Jayawardene told a packed news conference. “It all depends on what kind of interest I get in the next six months or so.
“For me right now, the thing is to get myself motivated for the next World Cup, to get myself fit and ready. I can’t guarantee I will be part of the squad, but my focus will be to try to get another winner’s medal.”
Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara were given a fitting farewell when they retired from T20 cricket as Sri Lanka beat India in the final, in Dhaka, in April.
Right-hander Jayawardene, who compiled 11,814 runs at an average of 49.84 in his 149 Tests, said the most treasured moment of his 17-year international career was getting his Test cap.
He made his debut against India in Colombo, in 1997, in a match where Sri Lanka amassed the highest total in Test cricket — 952 for six declared.
“The best day of my life was receiving my first Test cap from captain Arjuna Ranatunga,” said Jayawardene. “I place a huge value on that cap.
“I feel very honoured to wear this cap and it’s not an easy thing to let go. This is a great thing in Sri Lankan cricket… Everyone wears it with a lot of pride and passion.”
Jayawardene said it was the “right time” to quit the longer format of the game. “The decision for me to retire was something I have been thinking about for some time,” he explained. “It was just a gut feeling, but I’ve always gone with my gut feeling.
“Given the fact that we won’t have any home Test series for another 12 months, it’s time for a new generation to take over and move on. I will try and help in that rebuilding process as far as I can, but I don’t think I have the patience to become a coach, having played in the team for 17 years,” said Jayawardene.