Friday, June 18, 2010

The great Sanath Jayasuriya : reaching the end of the road

Left out of the Sri Lankan squad for the Asian Cup, one of the greatest one day international careers could well have reached the end of the road. Andrew Hughes looks back at the career of Sanath Jayasuriya.

On Friday, less than a fortnight before his forty-first birthday, Sanath Jayasuriya will make his debut for Worcestershire in the Friends Provident T20. Whilst this is a boost for the hapless Royals (currently around 66.0 to win the competition) it is something of a come down for a man once regarded as the most dangerous one day batsman in the world. He joins Worcestershire as a replacement for Aussie youngster Steven Smith and is only available because he it seems he is no longer required by his country, having been left out of Sri Lanka's Asian Cup squad, a tournament for which they are 2.74 second favourites.

It looks as though this is the end of what has been an extraordinary international cricket career. He had expressed a desire to take part in next year's World Cup, but the writing was on the wall in January when Sri Lankan coach Trevor Bayliss said Jayasuriya would no longer be selected as an opener and would have to earn his place as a spin bowling all-rounder. Those who have watched his struggles in the last two Twenty20 World Cups will have seen that the reflexes have gone, the hand-eye coordination has deserted him and by carrying on, he can only tarnish his considerable reputation.
So if this is the end of the international road, how will we look back on Jayasuriya's career? One aspect of his career that is often overlooked is just how effective a Test match player he was. He retired from Test cricket at the end of 2007, with an average of a little over forty and a top score of 340. It was after this innings, against India back in 1997, that Sachin Tendulkar was moved to say that he had not seen a better batsman in his career till that point. Compliments don't come much bigger than that.
Yet there is no doubt that Jayasuriya will be best remembered as a limited overs superstar. He has played more one day internationals than any other player in the history of the game and scored more runs in that format than anyone bar Tendulkar. Though he made a slow start, taking forty games to notch his first half-century, when he moved up to open the innings during the 1996 World Cup his career took off in spectacular fashion.
Jayasuriya is credited with revolutionising the way that teams played in the fifty over format. Taking advantage of the new fielding restrictions, he set about bowlers with hitherto unforeseen ferocity. But unlike many of the over-promoted sloggers who attempted to imitate him, he was a genuine batting talent. And he could bowl too. A Test match bowling average of 34.34 is pretty impressive and his nagging left arm spin stifled many a batsman. He remains the only player to score 10,000 runs and take 300 wickets in one day internationals.
But stats can't really communicate the full effect of watching Jayasuriya bat. Forget the Sanath of 2010, go back and watch him in his pomp at the 1996 World Cup. He destroyed bowling attacks, his quick hands and powerful forearms slamming through the ball with lacerating cut shots and brutal pulls. Any width at all was punished with ferocious relish. It didn't matter how many men were on the boundary, he would clear them. Like Virender Sehwag, he was an instinctive force of nature and he deserves to be considered amongst the most exciting batsmen who have ever played the game.

1 comment:

Dubai Escorts said...

I m very happy to see and read about Sanath Jaysuyiya. My self Kavya and big fan of him. I am 23 years old Indian Escort Girl in Dubai. I m working in Dubai from 2011 as Dubai Escorts. I m Independent Escorts in Dubai.

I want to Wish him 41st Birthday. Happy Birth Day to U Sir.

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