First Test: Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews looks ahead to Galle opener
Last Updated: 15/07/14 3:17pm
Sri Lanka are determined to give Mahela Jayawardene a triumphant farewell as the veteran batsman winds down his Test career this summer.
The 37-year-old right hander has announced he will retire from the longest format of the game in August, after the two-Test series against South Africa - starting on Wednesday in Galle - followed by two matches against Pakistan next month.
"We need a player like him in the team, but he has decided to say goodbye," Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews said. "If we can send him off by winning all four Tests it will be great."
Since making his debut against India in 1997 Jayawardene has made 11,493 runs in 145 Tests.
With 33 hundreds and 48 fifties to his name, he is the joint sixth-highest run-scorer in Test cricket along with teammate Kumar Sangakkara.
Mathews conceded Jayawardene will be almost impossible to replace; "He's been tremendous for us in the past 15 years or so, scoring so many runs. His contribution to the team has been unbelievable. So it's difficult to replace him.
"But that is the challenge we face in the future... new players should accept this challenge and play well."
South Africa won the recent one-day series between the sides 2-1 with an emphatic 82-run victory in the decider at Hambantota. It was a first one-day series victory for South Africa in Sri Lanka.
The Proteas captain Hashim Amla said: "It has given the team a whole lot of confidence and belief of winning here."
South Africa have had concerns over the fitness of wicketkeeper and key batsman AB de Villiers, but Amla said: "He will be playing tomorrow but it's unlikely he will keep wickets."