Somerset have signed former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene to play in 12 of the forthcoming 14 NatWest T20 Blast group games.
The signing ends much speculation as to who Somerset’s latest recruit would be after chairman Andy Nash took to Twitter on Sunday evening to hint that the club was close to announcing “another marquee signing” for the season.
He later said the player was “World Class. Unsurprisingly a World Cup winner!”
Many names have been flying around the various social media platforms since then including Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Michael Clarke, MS Dhoni and previously linked and much debated Kevin Pietersen. But Denagamage Praboth Mahela de Silva Jayawardene is the man.
He has enjoyed a magnificent career to date and was captain of the Sri Lanka team that won the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 and was part of the team that made to the final of 2007 Cricket World Cup, 2011 Cricket World Cup, 2009 ICC World Twenty20 and 2012 ICC World Twenty20.
He is a master batsman and a joy to watch when in full flow. He enjoyed many partnerships with Kumara Sangakarra with whom he scored 374 against South Africa in 2006 as part of a record-breaking stand of 624, the highest for any wicket in First-Class cricket, a landmark that stands today.
The 38-year-old has played in 149 Tests, scoring nearly 12,000 runs at an average of 49.84. He excels in white ball cricket as well where he has featured in 448 ODI’s scoring over 12,000 runs with a best of 144. He has also represented his country in 55 T20I’s scoring 1493 runs with a top score of 100.
He has played in the major T20 tournaments around the world including for Adelaide Strikers, Delhi Daredevils, Jamaica Tallawahs, Kings XI Punjab, Kochi Tuskers Kerala, Sinhalese Sports Club and Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel. He will now add Somerset to that list and will be joining Chris Gayle at the Cooper Associates County Ground this summer.
Somerset Director of Cricket Matt Maynard said: “Mahela is a batsman of undoubted class who scores his runs all around the wicket. When a player of his experience and class becomes available, you have to snap them up. He is an experienced international captain and the squad will certainly benefit from having him around the dressing room.
“He is a true professional and will have a major influence both on and off the field for us during the NatWest T20 Blast campaign. To have the top two run scorers in the history of the ICC World T20 walking out in to the middle at Taunton is something that I hope the Members and supporters will be looking forward to!”
After signing his contract Mahela Jayawardene said: “Somerset is a really good Club with a long history and I hope that I can help bring success to the County. The Club has a tradition of successful overseas players and I will be doing my best to join that illustrious list.”
This is, of course, a big signing for Somerset and I have no doubt Jayawardene will have a major impact on the club in his dozen games for the county. The club’s fans will remember that two of his fellow countrymen had lean times in short stints at Taunton – Sanath Jayasuriya and Agantha Mendis – but Mahela has scored runs all around the world and this fits the tag of marquee signing.
Welcome to Somerset Mahela Jayawardene!