Sanath Jayasuria’s 20 Years of Swashbuckling Cricket

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He has been one of the hardest hitters of the ball, one of the best all rounder’s cricket has ever had, one of the most explosive players in history, a nightmare for any bowler, one of Sri Lanka’s greatest cricketers. We pay a tribute to Sanath Jayasuriya for entertaining cricket fans for two decades!

Whenever we will remember the men of steel who ever existed in cricket, Sanath Jayasuriya is a name that will automatically flash to our minds. For the past two decades the man has been entertaining cricket fans from all over the world in most thrilling fashion. Even at the age of 40 he plays cricket with equal zeal and is an idol for all those young cricketers who face a fitness problem every now and then.

It was not just his blitzkrieg knocks, but even his left arm spin  that’s been of great advantage for Sri Lanka throughout his career. He even fielded like a panther pouncing upon the ball and was also involved in run outs, most which came of direct hits! He has his unique style of batting which has troubled the opponents on plenty of occasions. He is known to hit the ball for maximums on all sides of the wicket with extreme wrist power. Jayasuriya’s wicket is a matter of relief for any opponent. He still plays for Mumbai Indians in the IPL and opens the wicket with Tendulkar making it one of the most fearsome and experienced opening pairs in the world.

He made his Debut in 1989, just a few days after Tendulkar made his debut in the shorter version of the game.  In the initial days he started batting as a middle order batsman and it was certain that one day he would become a very good ODI player, though nobody was aware of just how good he would be.  In the mid nineties Jayasuriya was asked to play the key role of opening the innings for his side and he has never looked back since then. With his brutal capabilities of hitting the ball hard, Jayasuriya capitalized the given opportunity and since then he is known to be a nightmare for all kinds of bowlers.

His true potential was yet unknown to the world until the 1996 World Cup. In this tournament he all of a sudden changed strategy of how to approach an ODI. He, along with his fellow opener Romesh Kaluwitharana, had a different tactic of smashing it inside the initial 15 overs taking full advantage of the field restrictions. This pinch-hitting strategy was a sudden surprise for the rest of the teams and before they could actually adapt this tactic, it was all over for them.

Sri Lanka became the World Champions in the year 1996 and for his brilliant all round performances Jayasuriya was adjudged the man of the series. That world cup Jayasuriya changed the face of how to play cricket altogether!

Because of his aggressive approach towards the game, initially he was considered to be a genuine ODI player. But when given a chance even in Test Matches, Jayasuriya continued his journey of attacking bowlers from all over the world. But overall, he isn’t known to be a very successful test player. In the 110 matches he has played he has scored 6, 973 runs with a batting average of 40.07. Jayasuriya had the record for the highest individual score for Sri Lanka in test matches (340 runs) which was later broken by Mahela Jayawardene (374 runs), with this inning Mahela also shared a record partnership of 624 runs with Kumar Sangakara playing against South Africa.

But some way or the other, Jayasuriya couldn’t make much into the record book of test matches.  He became the first Sri Lankan cricketer to play 100 tests on 20 September 2005. When Sri Lanka toured Pakistan in 2006 Jayasuriya gave indications of retiring from test cricket. But soon he reversed his decision.  After scoring 78 runs against England in May 2006, Jayasuriya finally declared his retirement from test matches. He entertained the crowd even in his last test innings as he hit James Anderson for six fours in an over.

Vital Statistics in the ODI Record Books

The ODI record book has his name every now and then. He still holds the record for the fastest 50 off just 17 balls and fastest 150 which came off just 95 balls against England. He jointly holds the record of third highest ODI score of 189 runs along with Vivian Richards. He jointly holds a record with Tendulkar of having scored more than 150 in ODI’s on four occasions. He had even scored the fastest 100 which came of just 48 deliveries which was later broken by Shahid Afridi (37 balls).

He still has the record of scoring 30 runs off an over, twice in the ODI matches.  It was also a record for a long duration before it was broken by Hershelle Gibbs who scored 36 runs off an over! He still holds the record of scoring maximum boundaries in an innings (24 fours in his knock of 157 runs against Netherlands in 2006).  He shares a record with Afridi of hitting the maximum number of sixes in an ODI innings (11 sixes) which is the second highest number of sixes.  It was a record for 12 years before it was broken by Xavier Marshall of West Indies in 2008 while he played a fine knock of 157 not out hitting 12 sixes against Canada.

Jayasuriya was the first to play 400 ODI matches; Tendulkar joined the list later on. As far as total number of sixes in a career is concerned, Jayasuriya still has the record of hitting 270 sixes in his career and has the second highest record of scoring 1500 boundaries throughout his career. Overall he is the second highest run scorer in ODI matches having scored 13, 928 runs in 444 matches. The only record which he will never cherish is the number of ducks (34), which is also the highest in ODI’s. Besides this, with the kind of blitzkrieg knocks he has played throughout his career Jayasuriya has a career strike rate of over 91 which is the third highest in terms of players who have played more than 250 ODI matches. With such a brilliant overall record he is the second highest in terms of Man of the Match awards (47) after Tendulkar (60).

Besides having a wonderful career with the bat, Jayasuriya has been an extremely successful bowler for Sri Lanka in the ODI’s as well. He has taken 322 ODI wickets which is great achievement in itself, besides being the second highest run scorer. Even in tests Jaya has taken 98 wickets. Glen McGrath considers him to be one of the toughest batsman to bowl at, because of his devastating capabilities one is never sure of what the result would be no matter how brilliant a bowler you are.

For two decades he has been a great asset for the Sri Lankan team. He is popular as a very explosive opening batsman, but as a matter of fact he has been equally active with the ball as well. He is the only ODI player to have scored more than 10,000 runs and capture over 300 wickets! He has played his heart out giving his 100 percent in each and every match. His fitness is a challenge for all the players around the world.

20 years have passed yet his batting style is the same without a pinch of mercy for the bowlers. The spectators get their money’s worth when they watch him bat in full flow. With his brutal capabilities he has won the hearts of millions of cricket fans. At an age of 40 he still bats with equal ease as he loves playing the game, the kid inside him is excited to play and win matches for Sri Lanka! For me, he is Sri Lanka’s greatest ever batsmen.

The hot topic of discussion is will the cricket fans get to see him play the 2011 World Cup? Sangakara has clearly said that he would like to have Jayasuriya in his squad of 11 men for the 2011 World Cup. But as all other teams are preferring youngsters in the team the Sri Lankan selectors might have some other plans.

What is for sure is that a few years down the line Jayasuriya will retire from all formats of the game. Then too the sun will rise, then too cricket will be played, but there would never be another Jayasuriya, and we’ll cherish the memories he has always showcased!

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  1. James says

    Cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar,Sanath Jayasuriya..they are playing this game for the past 20 yr(which is more than half of their age) but they still play cricket in this manner like if they have just started their career…
    I would love to watch Jayasurya in 2011 WC.
    Well Written friend!!!!!!

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