The Story of a Legend – "Sanath Teran Jayasuriya"
SANATH JAYASURIYA the cricketing world by storm with his unusual array of shots in the early nineties. He taught his contemporary batsmen to go all out in the first 15 overs and tear the opposition bowling attack.
With Romesh Kaluwitharana, he formed one of the most destructive opening pairs of the world and virtually snatched the 1996 Wills World Cup, making Sri Lanka the eventual World Cup winners. His slow left-arm marked the death knell for many batting barons all over the world. A fierce competitor on the field with his willow-ing and bowling blitzkriegs, he is equally gentle and friendly off it. He is none other than Sanath Jayasuriya, one of the greatest modern stalwarts of the amazing game.
Known for his trademark cuts and pulls which rattled the most persevering of bowlers, he is the one who always goes by his instincts rather than the cricketing grammar book. A large number of cricketing pundits including maestro Greg Chappell are of the opinion that, on his day, he is the most dangerous batsmen for any opposition and can turn around the game in a jiffy.
Having been the premier match winner for Sri Lanka for over a decade and a half, he is still going strong and there are few who doubt his abilities even today. The fact that Sri Lanka has gone on to win more than 80 per cent of the matches whenever he scored more than fifty, testifies to the amazing prowess of this diminutive left-hander.
He follows a simple and uncomplicated philosophy towards batting, which is – if the ball is in his zone he will hit it come what may. Dry and arid statistics cannot summarise his contribution towards the development of Sri Lankan cricket. He virtually brought out cricket from shambles in his country. He unified a country eternally reeling under racial conflict between the Sinhalese and the Tamils.
He was the one who gave the much needed conviction to his team mates, that even Sri Lanka can be part of the big league. He was selected as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1997 when he was at the peak of his form and served as captain of the Sri Lankan team in 38 Test matches from 1999 to 2003. This period was one of the most fruitful stints in Sri Lankan cricket.
He is an extremely valuable all-rounder with an awesome batting average in both Test and One Day International cricket. But the plus point of his batting is his ability to maintain the strike rate according to which he scores his runs.
Making his debut in ODIs against Australia in the 1989-90 season, he attributes his success to the mentoring he got from Arjuna Ranatunga, the former World Cup winning skipper of the island nation’s cricketing team and a very good batsman in his own right. He eventually went on to become the highest run scorer for Sri Lanka in both versions of the game and he is currently in pursuit of T20 glory.
There is little room for doubt that he could be one of the trump cards for Sri Lanka in the coming ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in Asia. Although he has retired from Test cricket on account of his age, he remains as agile as he was at 20 in the two shorter versions of the game.
Hats off to you, Sanath Jayasuriya!
Happy 40th Birthday !!!