When Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga tore into the English new ball attack in the summer of ’06, Kabir Ali and Tim Bresnan’s future as cricketers looked bleak. There has been no word of Ali since, but Bresnan has survived and will take on Sri Lanka tomorrow at the semi final of the ICC World Twenty20.
The Sri Lankans are likely to field the 40 year old MP from Matara, the star in many of Bresnan’s nightmares, Sanath Jayasuriya.
Headingly, July, 2006, England sets Sri Lanka a massive target of 321/7 in 50 overs. Sri Lanka surpasses the total in just 37.3 overs. Chief wreckers – Sanath Jayasuriya 152 off 99 balls and opening partner Upul Tharanga 109 off 102 balls. Victims – Tim Bresnan 2 overs no wickets for 29 runs, Kabir Ali 6 overs no wickets for 72 runs, Harmisson 10 overs none for 97 runs.
"I was blown away by Jayasuriya," Bresnan admitted in an interview with the Guardian several years later.
If Jayasuriya plays, this will be the first time Bresnan will be meeting the Matara Mauler since that mauling in Headingly. But, a lot has changed since that July.
Today, Sanath Jayasuriya is a fraction of the tormentor he once was, and an in-form Upul Tharanga was ironically axed, last minute, to slot in the fading Jayasuriya. England too have a much diverse bowling attack these days with spinners Swan and Yardy adding valuable variation.
Will Bresnan have his chance at revenge, or does another battering await the Englishmen? Only time will tell.