Sanath Jayasuriya: When you hear the word ‘All-Rounder,’ who or what comes to your mind? Names like Kapil Dev, Lance Klusener, Jacques Kallis, Yuvraj Singh, and Ravindra Jadeja might instantly pop into your head, and rightly so. These cricketing icons are esteemed champions, living legends who have left an indelible mark on the game.
But amidst this galaxy of cricketing stars, there’s one player who often doesn’t get the recognition he truly deserves. This unsung hero was not just a cricketer; he was a maestro in every aspect of the game. Picture a champion left-arm batsman, a skillful orthodox spinner, and a brilliant fielder – in essence, a complete cricketer in every sense of the word.
Sanath Jayasuriya, for that is his name, stands tall in this elite club of all-rounders. What sets him apart is the extraordinary feat he achieved – amassing more than 10,000 runs and claiming over 300 wickets in one-day internationals. A rare accomplishment that should rightfully earn him a place among cricket’s greatest. Yet, history seems to have been somewhat unfair to Sanath Jayasuriya, the all-rounder. It’s high time we rectify this oversight and give credit where it’s due. Join us as we delve into the incredible journey of this remarkable cricketer, exploring his highs, lows, and the legacy he’s left on the sport we all love.
What made Jayasuriya different?
What sets Sanath Jayasuriya apart from cricketing greats like Kapil Dev, Lance Klusener, Jacques Kallis, Yuvraj Singh, and even Ravindra Jadeja? You might say they all left their mark in different aspects of the game. Take Lance Klusener, for instance; he was a handy pinch hitter and an exceptional fielder. Kapil Dev, on the other hand, was a master of both bowling and batting. Each of these all-rounders had their own unique strengths.
The only one, who could be anywhere close to him was the South African great Jacques Kallis, who was also instrumental in getting South Africa its first and only ICC trophy, i.e., the ICC Knockout Trophy 1998 [a predecessor of the ICC Champions Trophy]. But Sanath Jayasuriya? Well, he was a whole different breed. He wasn’t just good; he was the absolute best. Facing him as a bowler was like entering a battle where victory was far from guaranteed. And if you found yourself facing his deliveries, you’d better have a bucketful of luck on your side.
Sanath had a simple yet deadly philosophy: “Offense is often the best defense.” He didn’t just believe in it; he embodied it on the cricket field. When he decided to attack, there was no stopping him. And his devastating performances weren’t just for show; they translated into victories for Sri Lanka. In fact, Jayasuriya’s incredible batting prowess ensured that Sri Lanka emerged victorious in more than 75% of the matches where he scored over 50 runs in limited-overs cricket. That’s a remarkable statistic and a testament to the impact he had on the team’s success.
Sanath Jayasuriya: A nightmare for any cricketer!
Speaking of Romesh, Sanath and Romesh could be unofficially termed as the ‘forefathers’ of T20 cricket. You see, back in the early ’90s, if a team managed to score 80 runs in 15 overs, it was considered quite a powerful start. But then, enter Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana, two names that changed the game forever. These guys would pummel the bowlers left and right, and before you knew it, they’d rack up a minimum of 110 runs in the same timeframe.
Fast forward to today, and their style has become the standard opening batting approach in limited-overs cricket. Even legendary bowler Glenn McGrath recognized the impact of Jayasuriya’s explosive batting. He once said, “It is always a massive compliment to someone to say they changed the game, and his storming innings in the 1996 World Cup changed everyone’s thinking about how to start innings.”
If you grew up in the ’90s, you’d know that praying for Sanath Jayasuriya’s early dismissal was almost a ritual. You’d hope he wouldn’t bowl much either. Sachin Tendulkar, the “Master Blaster” himself, could take on any formidable bowler, be it Glenn McGrath, Allan Donald, Jason Gillespie, or Shoaib Akhtar. But what very few talk about are his showdowns with Sanath Jayasuriya. More often than not, the Sri Lankan lion prevailed over the “Master Blaster.” But Sanath Jayasuriya wasn’t just a batsman. He was also a left-arm orthodox spin bowler known for his swift overs. Despite being a spinner, he could unleash faster balls and yorkers with a rapid arm action, which often led to success. He took a whopping 440 wickets in international cricket, with six 5-wicket hauls to his name. His best bowling performance in an innings in international cricket was 6 for 29, achieved against England in an ODI in 1993.
One of Jayasuriya’s most memorable bowling performances came during the 1996 Cricket World Cup semi-final. He snatched three crucial wickets for just 12 runs in seven overs. His prized scalp? None other than Sachin Tendulkar, and that too at a pivotal moment, breaking Tendulkar’s partnership with Sanjay Manjrekar, which had the potential to sway the game away from the Sri Lankans.
Let’s not forget the historic test score of 952 for the loss of 6 wickets, including an astounding partnership of 576 runs between Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama, which left the Indian bowlers bamboozled. As an all-rounder, Jayasuriya was the most successful bowler for Sri Lanka during the knockout stage of the 1996 Cricket World Cup, grabbing 6 wickets in three games. In total, he clinched 27 wickets in Cricket World Cups, including 10 wickets in the 2003 edition. Sanath Jayasuriya wasn’t just a player; he was a game-changer, a phenomenon, and a true cricketing legend.
Why Sanath should be celebrated more as an allrounder
Jacques Kallis, by the numbers, is undoubtedly one of the world’s finest all-rounders. He boasts over 13,000 runs in Test cricket with an average of 55 and more than 11,000 runs in ODIs, maintaining an average of 44. Not to mention, he’s clinched 292 Test wickets and 273 ODI wickets.
Impressive, no doubt. But if we solely relied on statistics, we’d overlook the formidable force that was Sanath Jayasuriya. He holds the record for the most Man of the Match and Man of the Series awards in ODIs, second only to the legendary Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin himself would breathe a sigh of relief if he didn’t have to face Sanath, whether as a bowler or a batsman.
Despite his incredible feats, Sanath has often been relegated to the status of an “impactful batsman” or, at best, a “batting all-rounder.” But it’s high time we recognize him for the cricketing force he truly was – a game-changer who left an indelible mark on the sport.
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