He might be small in stature, but Mahela Jayawardene’s international record makes him a giant addition to the Central Districts Stags for their Super Smash Twenty20 match in Nelson, New Zealand on Thursday.
The legendary Sri Lankan batsman, lured to CD in large part due to a promotional deal with the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Training, was expected to touch down in Nelson on Wednesday and will play out the remainder of the Super Smash with the Stags. All going according to plan, that will begin with match five of their campaign, against the Wellington Firebirds at Saxton Oval from 4pm on Thursday.
It will be a new setting for Jayawardene, who has spent the last week playing alongside some of the greatest players ever, in sold out baseball stadiums across the USA, as part of Shane Warne’s All Stars Tour.
Conversely, the CD side has gathered in the top of the South Island this week and on Monday several players, including captain Kruger van Wyk, were in Blenheim. The skipper spoke of his excitement to have Jayawardene, who sits eighth all time in test runs score, fifth in one day internationals and fourth in international T20s, joining the CD ranks.
“He is a special player. His record speaks for itself … I am sure we will learn a lot from him and the presence he will bring to the squad will be good as well. We haven’t had an overseas player of his calibre for a very long time. I don’t know if we have ever had one,” van Wyk said.
Jayawardene, who retired from all international cricket earlier this year, after debuting in 1997, is a former captain of Sri Lanka and van Wyk said he is looking forward to having such vast knowledge to call on.
“Apart from the fact we expected him to do a great job on the field, the guys should pick his brain as well. Spend time with him, ask questions and make a pest of yourself a bit, feeding off the knowledge that he has. That can at times mean as much to you as the performance on the park.”
The Stags have a lot of young players in their T20 side who have proved match winners, at times, during an up and down campaign in which they have won two of four games. (Courtesy stuff.co.nz)