One of the world’s most vicious strikers of the ball-Sanath Jayasuriya, a former Sri Lanka skipper, who excelled in cricket while at St. Servatius’ College, Matara was picked as the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in the Outstation Segment in 1988. He was also picked as the Best Batsman and Best All-rounder in the Outstation Schools.
Jayasuriya is one of the finest all-rounders from Matara to emerge in school cricket and he kept faith with the game and it was natural that he would make the grade.“It was one of the best things that happened to me in 1988 when I won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in the Outstation Section” said Jayasuriya. Jayasuriya said playing for St. Servatius’ College, Matara brought him immense joy. He said that school cricketers must be motivated and the outstation cricketers must not be neglected. He added that school cricket has helped him a great deal and the much needed push ahead when he was at St. Servatius’ College, Matara. “I must thank the Observer a lot for giving the Matara Schools and school cricketers the push. Jayasuriya said and added that the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest should not be the end, but the foundation laid for better things to be got from the cricketers.
A contest of this nature means a lot to young cricketers. When I was picked as the Best Outstation Cricketer in 1988, it gave me a lot of satisfaction and spurred me on and I am what I am now, because of inter-school cricket and the encouragement it gave him, Jayasuriya said. He said that the ANCL and the Observer should continue the contest for the benefit of the budding school cricketers.
Jayasuriya found fame as a pinch-hitter at the 1996 World Cup and then demonstrated that he was also capable of massive scoring in Tests, eventually becoming Sri Lanka’s highest Test run scorer. He remains dizzly dangerous, especially on the subcontinent’s bouncy surfaces. He cuts and pulls with great power and his opponents have learned to set traps in the gully and at third man to stem the flow of runs, but on song, he can be virtually unstoppable.
Jayasuriya can also be a very effective slow lift-arm bowler, especially on one-day internationals where his stock leg-arm darts are mixed with clever variations in pace. Jayasuriya served commendably as Sri Lanka’s captain for a successful tenure after Arjuna Ranatunga from 1999 to 2003. He captained Sri Lanka team in 38 Test matches. The huge responsibility of leading the team started to to show and after the 2003 World Cup, he resigned in April that year.
Having stepped down his position in the side was vigorously debated and a one-day slump prompted several pundits to call ‘time’ on his career. But Jayasuriya was far from finished and he bounced back in 2004 with his most profilic year in Test cricket since 1997. The year included a blazing second innings century against Australia at Kandy that nearly levelled the series and a marathon double hundred against Pakistan at Faisalabad. Twin centuries followed during the Asia Cup 2004 and his form was impressive enough for Somerset to sign him on for a season of County Cricket in 2005. Then in the Indian Oil Cup in 2005, Jayasuriya became only fourth batsman to get to 10,000 runs in one-day cricket. Jayasuriya had the record for the highest Test scores made by a Sri Lankan 340 against India.
He retired in 2005, but bounced back and he was selected to the Test side in England but did not play. He stormed back in typical form, however in the one-day series that followed, showing he has a few more years for competitive cricket.
At the age of 38 Jayasuriya scored 467 runs during the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies and was the oldest player in the World Twenty-20 that followed in South Africa. He called ‘time’ on his Test career during the first Test against in Kandy in 2007-2008 and bowed out with a cracking 78 in his final innings. His one-day career was all but over when he was left-out for the ODI’s in the West Indies in 2008. However, a superb performance in the IPL-finishing the third highest run getter with 514 runs, prompted country’s sports minister to intervene in his selection for the Asia Cup. He ultimately shaped Sri Lanka’s title victory with a blistering hundred under pressure. In January 2009 during the first ODI against India, he became the second man to cross 13,000 ODI runs and at 40 years and 33 days upto August 2 Sunday, the oldest man to score an ODI century. In the 2008, he played for Warwickshire County Cricket Club. In April 2008 he joined the Mumbai Indians to play in the IPL.
Jayasuriya has played in 110 Test matches and scored 6,973 runs an average of 40.07. He made 14 centuries and 31 half centuries with a top score of 340. He bowled 8,188 balls captured 98 wickets at an average of 34.34. Best figures 5 for 34 and held 79 catches.He has played 433 matches in the ODI’s and scored 13,151 runs an average of 32.71, hit 28 centuries and 67 half centuries, highest score of 189.
He bowled 14,484 balls and claimed 313 wickets an average of 36.75 with best bowling figures 6 for 29 and taken 121 catches.
In the twenty-20 tourney he played 60 matches, scored 1,516 runs - an average of 27.07 and made a century and 8 half centuries. Highest score an unbeaten 114, held 16 catches. In bowling, he sent down 734 balls captured 44 wickets for an average of 21.64, with best figures of 4 for 24