The seventh instalment in our new series where we compare two legendary cricketers from the same generation. Rather than necessarily settle the debate on who is ‘better’, this series attempts to illustrate who had a greater say in dictating his country’s cricketing fortunes. Along the way, you may also find a few facets of these players that are not necessarily discussed in conventional media.

Today we cast the spotlight on a pair who, apart from being close friends, were stalwarts of Sri Lankan cricket.


Kumar Sangakkara vs Mahela Jayawardene

  A batting comparison in Test cricket


PARAMETER Kumar Sangakkara Mahela Jayawardene Maximum or
Highest (100%)
Number of Tests 134 149 Sachin Tendulkar (200)
Runs Scored 12,400 11,814 Sachin Tendulkar (15,921)    
Batting Average 57.40 49.84 Don Bradman (99.94)
Average runs per match 92.54 79.29 Don Bradman (135)
Percentage of team runs scored 18% 16% Don Bradman (25.32%)
Batting Impact 59 53 Don Bradman
Runs Tally Impact 66 62 Don Bradman
Pressure Impact 71 54 Peter May
Batting Impact in wins (min. 20 Tests) 56 55 Don Bradman
Impact at Home (min. 25 Tests) 65 75 Don Bradman
Impact Away (min. 15 Tests) 48 32 Don Bradman
Impact in Aus/Eng/SA (min. 10 Tests) 65 38 Don Bradman
Impact in Subcontinent (min. 10 Tests) 67 70 Cheteshwar Pujara
Failure Rate (min. 50 Tests) 42% 41% Don Bradman (27%)
Number of Series-Defining performances (once every 19 Tests) 6 (once every 25 Tests) Inzamam-ul-Haq and
Rahul Dravid (8)
Number of high impact performances 28 (once every 5 Tests) 21 (once every 7 Tests) Ricky Ponting (32)
Most dominant period in career March 2006 – August 2008 November 1999 -September 2001 n/a
Number of years as highest impact batsman 1 (2006) 0 Arthur Shrewsbury Snr. – 3
(1885, 1886, 1893)
Jack Hobbs – 3
(1912, 1914, 1926)
Len Hutton – 3
(1938, 1950, 1954)
Garry Sobers – 3
(1958, 1959, 1966)
Highest impact batsman in a match 29    17 Kumar Sangakkara 
(29 times in 134 Tests)
Highest impact batsman in a series   11 (in 56 Test series) 5 (in 59 Test series) Kumar Sangakkara
(11 times in 56 Test series)

1) All parameters from ‘ Batting Impact ’ till ‘Impact in Aus/Eng/SA’ are expressed on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the maximum for any player in Test history in that parameter. A player’s impact in a particular parameter is then expressed as a percentage of it.
Example: Don Bradman has the highest Batting Impact in Test cricket history. So he denotes 100 for that parameter. Kumar Sangakkara’s and Mahela Jayawardene’s Batting Impact are then expressed as a percentage of Bradman’s Batting Impact .
2) From ‘Batting Average’ till ‘ Pressure Impact ’, a minimum of 50 matches is considered as qualification. For all other parameters, the qualification is mentioned alongside.



Kumar Sangakkara has had a greater influence with the bat on Sri Lanka’s Test history than Mahela Jayawardene – both, conventionally and through the impact sieve. His Batting Impact is 11% higher than Jayawardene’s. In fact, the southpaw ranks as the eleventh-highest impact Test batsman of all time.

Sangakkara was easily the more prolific run-scorer. He was more adept under pressure too, and his contribution in Sri Lanka’s victories (at a match and at a series level) was more significant than Jayawardene’s.

Only two batsmen in the history of Test cricket – Inzamam-ul-Haq and Rahul Dravid with 8 series-defining performances (SDs) each – have won more series for their country than Kumar Sangakkara (7 SDs). Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith also have 7 SDs apiece.

Jayawardene fared better at home and in the subcontinent while Sangakkara was a stand-out performer in foreign conditions, especially in Australia, England and South Africa.

Sangakkara’s superiority is further cemented by the sheer number of times he finished a match or series as the highest impact batsman. He is unsurpassed in that regard in Test history.


Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene went on to form the backbone that defined Sri Lankan batting in the noughties – a period in which they lost just four out of the 20 series they played at home, while also tasting success in Pakistan, England and New Zealand. The team won 51 and drew 36 of the 126 Test matches the pair featured in. It doesn’t surprise that Sangakkara and Jayawardene respectively remain the highest and second-highest impact batsmen in Sri Lanka’s Test cricket history. 


Karthik Swaminathan

Illustrations: Vasim Maner