Monday, December 28, 2009

Sanath revolutionized one-day cricket

by Shirajiv Sirimane in India

“I have not seen Don Bradman bat, but I have seen Sanath Jayasuriya.
I have not seen a better batsman in my cricketing career.” - Sachin Tendulkar.

One-day cricket began between English county teams on May 02, 1962 and the One-Day International (ODI) match was played in Melbourne in 1971 between England and Australia.

However the face of the game was completely changed by a Sri Lankan player almost 20 years after it began ironically in Australia itself. This player is the living legend of Sri Lanka cricket Sanath Jayasuriya together with Romesh Kaluwithrane and Coach Dav Whitmore invented the ‘hit out’ tactics in the first 15 overs of the game first rattling the high riding the Australians and then the entire cricketing world.

The tactic used was to take advantage of the early fielding restrictions by smashing the opening bowlers to all parts of the cricket ground, rather than the established tactic of building up momentum gradually.

He set bench marks for other countries to follow and due to this tactic Sanath and Kalu were one of the awesome ODI openers in the world entertaining crowds and TV viewers.

“Sanath has been an inspiration for Sri Lankan cricket from 1996 onwards, when he turned ODI cricket upside down. He is a valuable player and there was a time when we were over-dependent on him.

The whole dressing room would be silent after his dismissal and he created an atmosphere in which you feel that if he is with us, you are invincible,” Sangakkara summed up last Saturday in India.

Jayasuriya is known for both cuts and pulls along with his trademark shot, a lofted cut over point.

He was the key player in Sri Lanka’s victory in the 1996 Cricket World Cup, where he was adjudged Man of the Tournament in recognition of his all-round contributions.

Jayasuriya, 40, made his international debut on December 26, 1989 against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Jayasuriya is the second highest scorer in ODIs, next to Sachin Tendulkar. In 443 matches, he has scored 13,397 runs with 28 centuries and 68 half centuries.

He was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1997 and served as captain of the Sri Lankan team in 38 Test matches from 1999 to 2003.

Jayasuriya held the record for the highest Test score made by a Sri Lankan, 340 against India in 1997.

This effort was part of a second-wicket partnership with Roshan Mahanama that set the then all-time record for any partnership in Test history, with 576 runs.

Both records were surpassed in July 2006 when fellow Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene scored 374 as part of a 624-run partnership with Kumar Sangakkara against South Africa. On 20 September 2005, during the Second Test of the home series against Bangladesh, Jayasuriya became the first Sri Lankan to play 100 Tests, and the 33rd Test cricketer to achieve this feat.

Sanath has said that he can not think of a life without cricket. “Now my ambition is the next world cup,” he said.

It has been 20 years since Sri Lankan heavyweight Jayasuriya began his international career and many have seen him in cricket and for those who are not keen on cricket he comes to the TV screens via electronics and of course in series of advertisements ranging from banking to fiancé agriculture to fast moving consumer goods.

But only a few Sri Lankans know that Sanath is a world known figure as he is the first cricketer to be appointed as a UN Goodwill Ambassador (by UNAIDS, Geneva) for his commitment to prevention of HIV/AIDS among young people in Sri Lanka.


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