Mahela Jayawardene has been appointed as the head coach of Indian Premier League side Mumbai Indians, the franchise announced on Friday (November 18). The 39-year-old Sri Lankan batting great replaces , who spent four successful seasons with the team – as player, in an advisory role under head coach John Wright and then later as full time head coach.
In a video message, Jayawardene said he was excited at the opportunity to coach Mumbai Indians. “I’m honoured to be chosen as the headcoach of a very exciting team, whose got a winning mentality embedded to their DNA. I’m looking forward to the next IPL season,” he said.
“An authoritative captain and a prolific batsman of his generation Mahela Jayawardene will take charge of Mumbai Indians for the upcoming season (2017) of Indian Premier League,” Mumbai Indians said on their website.
Commenting on the appointment, Nita Ambani said, “Jayawardene is an astute figure in the modern era of cricket. He is a perfect role-model for the young Mumbai Indians squad. I am sure our global fans, who have always believed in the team and expects the best will welcome Mahela to our Mumbai Indians family.”
Ponting was appointed as captain of the Mumbai Indians in 2013 and dropped himself from the side mid-way through the tournament following lukewarm performances, paving the way for Rohit Sharma to lead the side to their first IPL title. As head coach, Ponting was at the helm of the side’s second title, masterminding a remarkable turnaround after four straight defeats to begin the season. Mumbai Indians failed for a second time in their title defence in 2016, finishing fifth and missing out on a playoff berth by two points.
Ponting is said to be in contention to become Australia’s T20 coach with a possible role in the Cricket Australia administration, as a chairman of selectors, in the near future.
As a former captain of the Sri Lankan national side, Jayawardene brings with him a sharp cricketing brain and tactical nous to succeed in the sub-continent. More recently, he served in a batting consultant role for England ahead of their Test series against Pakistan in the UAE and again during England’s run to the final of the 2016 World T20 in India.
As player, Jayawardene has represented Kings XI Punjab, Kochi Tuskers and Delhi Daredevils but played the last of his 80 IPL games during the 2013 season. However, he remains active on the T20 circuit, having recently represented Somerset in the T20 Blast. He is currently playing for the Dhaka Dynamites in the ongoing season of the Bangladesh Premier League and is also slated to represent the Karachi Kings in the second edition of the Pakistan Super League. He has also signed up to play in Shane Warne’s Cricket Superstars tournament later in 2017.
In an illustrious international career spanning 18 years, Jayawardene scored over 25000 international runs, with over 10,000 runs in both Tests and ODIs. He played the last of his 55 T20Is in 2014, signing off with a memorable World T20 triumph in Dhaka.