blaster retired hurt
By S.R. Pathiravithana
Going back through the pages of time I still remember the first
time I really heard someone describing the talents of Sanath Jayasuriya.
It was the "Observer-Bata" Schoolboy cricketer selections
way back in 1988 where I was a member of the selection panel and
the rest of the committee comprised representatives of the SLSCA,
the ACUSL and the sponsors. I remember after we had selected the
Schoolboy Cricketer -All island it was the turn to select the Outstation
Schoolboy Cricketer of the year.
all had heard about this boy who had scored a thousand runs and
bagged a hundred wickets from St. Servatius College Matara, but
we were rather pleasantly surprised when the ACUSL representative
who represented the South said that this young cricketer was something
special and we should look out for him in the future too.
was not very long after that we started hearing about him and his
exploits in Pakistan with the Sri Lanka 'A' team where he scored
two double hundreds. It was long afterwards that he graduated to
the "big league". Surprisingly his initial period with
the senior side was not a flashy success, but a modest one to keep
him floating in the pool as a middle order batsman. Nevertheless
whenever he was among the runs there were signs of his true talents
that lay untapped. One such instance was when he scored a blazing
hundred against India in a practice match at the Welagedera Stadium
on their tour of Sri Lanka in 1993 when he flayed the Indian attack
to all parts of the ground. However his power hitting caught the
eye of the senior management along with the exploits of young wicketkeeper
batsman Romesh Kaluwitharana. There they pondered "what if
we send them up in the order to give us an explosive start then
the rest of the batting can take off from there".
reality these were the magic words which he translated into action
non-fiction and this cricketing nation came to be the World Champions
from being nobody's child.
this episode of transformation it was Sanath who really came to
the fore. It was the chance of his lifetime. Sanath took it up with
both hands so much so that after making his debut in 1990 as a middle
order batsman it was not until 1995 that he scored his first Test
century and that too as an opening batsman against Australia in
Adelaide. In the year of 2005 Sanath became the very first Sri Lankan
to play in 100 Test matches. His exploits in the limited overs version
of the game in which he still is became legendary and will grow
to be so until the next World Cup in the West Indies in 2007. He
is also only the fourth man in cricket history to score over 10,000
represented Sri Lanka in 102 Test matches scoring over 6613 runs
with 14 centuries with an average of 41.59. Jayasuriya took over
the Lankan reins from Arjuna Ranatunge in 1999 and had a good spell
as captain with a set of ten straight wins, but gave it up in 2003
to concentrate on his playing career.
in Sanath's swansong in Kandy where he tore his web Sri Lanka played
a dominos game in the second innings in his absence and crashed
to a shameful eight wicket defeat after leading by over a hundred
runs in the first innings. In this unforgettable series the Lankans
fell short of answers to the swing bowling of Pakistan's new pace
discovery Mohammed Asif. Nevertheless Sanath will be long remembered
for his epic knock of 340 against India which was followed by another
199 in the next match. In the game that he made 340 he also was
associated in a record 527 run second wicket stand with Roshan Mahanama.
spite of his unorthodox batting grip he became the most successful
batsman in both forms of the game. Like the umpire who saw him in
action many years ago, he is of a rare breed where very little in
this mould could come out in the activity of life. This breed is
proven to be more talented than the ordinary and their brilliance
becomes more and more legendary as time goes by.