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DateLine Sunday, 20 April 2008





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Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of 1985 starred in Lanka’s World Cup triumph in 1996:

CRICKET: Asanka Pradeep Gurusinha who played a major role in Sri Lanka winning the World Cup in 1996 as a number three batsman, was the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1985, the year he captained the unbeaten Nalanda College cricket team.

Asanka Gurusinha - Observer Schoolboy Cricketer 1985 with the trophy that he won.

He is now married and blessed with a son and daughter. Gurusinha was born on September 16th 1966 and from his young days, he took a great liking for cricket. He is a fine left-hand batsman and went on to captain Nalanda in the 56th ‘Battle of the Maroons’ in 1985.

By then he had made his name well known as one of the most celebrated school cricketers in the island. He ‘made’ the national team on some of the foreign tours as well. Soon after his school days were over, he went on to represent Sri Lanka.

At Nalanda, he had many successes and it was quite natural that he was picked for the coveted honour of Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the year in 1985 and that opened up a big future for him in cricket.

In 1984, he played under Roshan Mahanama for Nalanda. Mahanama won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award twice in 1983 and 1984. Then in 1985 Roshan Mahanama was a member in Gurusinha’s side.

Gurusinha played a anchor role in the Battle of the Maroons in 1985 when he scored an unbeaten fluent century (100 n.o.). This valuable and aggressive century gave him the incentive to forge ahead.

After his schooling, Gurusinha went on to play for the SSC and also for NCC. He didn’t stop at that. His illustrious international career started when he played in the 3rd Test against Pakistan in 1986 at Karachi.

The Pakistan team was led by Imran Khan. ‘Gura’ started as a wicket-keeper, a role he took for a further two one-day series. He gradually established himself as a number three batsman too.

Prior to playing in Test cricket, ‘Gura’ had the distinction of playing for the Board President’s XI against India in Colombo where he stroked a fine century in 1985, just after the Ananda - Nalanda Big Match encounter.

In the first Test and ODI’s against Pakistan, Gurusinha showed his class, playing in the all important position of number three and was described by Simon Wilde of Cricket Info as the rock on which Sri Lanka batting was founded.

When Gurusinha retired in 1996 after the World Cup, only Aravinda de Silva had made more Test hundreds with eight compared to Gurusinha’s seven.

‘Gura’ was also a useful part-time bowler. His 20 Test wickets included great players as Sunil Gavaskar, Michael Atherton, Dean Jones, Steve Waugh and Inzamam-ul-Haq.

He enjoyed an eleven year international career, playing 41 Tests and 147 One-Day Internationals for Sri Lanka.

He was a specialist batsman and one innings that will be remembered for ever is his performance in the 1996 World Cup that Sri Lanka won.

In that tournament, Asanka Gurusinha was one of only six batsman to score more than 300 runs and his ultimately helped Sri Lanka to win the coveted Cup.

Yet six months later, he was out of the team. After a bitter row with Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga and the Sri Lankan cricket board. Gurusinha was dropped without explanation.

This hurt Gurusinha and coach Dav Whatmore too got involved in the fracas and a big verbal battle ensued, with Gurusinha praising Whatmore as being the man responsible for Sri Lanka winning the World Cup in 1996 after taking charge of the team in 1995.

Skipper Ranatunga was not agreeable to this. Ranatunga said Whatmore had little to do with the triumph. The wheels of success were in place long before Whatmore was recruited.

The fiasco ended when Whatmore stepped down to accept a lucrative contract with Lancashire.

Gurusinha meanwhile flew into Melbourne to take up his contract as captain-coach of North Melbourne.

The left-handed batsman had four seasons at Ardeen Street where he struggled for motivation. He scored up to 500 runs but was not satisfied. His happiest moments - obviously when Sri Lanka won the 1996 World Cup defeating Australia in the final at Lahore.

Sri Lanka’s team on that historic day comprised Arjuna Ranatunga (Capt.), Sanath Jayasuriya, Romesh Kaluwitharna, Asanka Gurusinha, Aravinda de Silva, Hashan Tillekeratne, Roshan Mahanama, Kumar Dharmasena, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan and Promodaya Wickremasinghe.

Australia batted first and made 240. Sri Lanka, after a disappointing start, losing openers Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana for just 23 runs, recovered well. Asanka Gurusinha and Aravinda de Silva made it good totalling 130 for 3 wickets.

Gurusinha batted with great authorities and made a valuable 65 runs but Aravinda de Silva batted delightfully and made 112 not out and that knock really paved the way for Sri Lanka’s fine victory.

Gurusinha’s performances in the Tests and one day internationals are 41 Tests, 2452 runs, at an aggregate of 38.92, 7 centuries and 8 half centuries a best score 143, delivered 234 overs, claimed 20 wickets, bowling average 34.04, beat bowling figures 4 for 68 and held 33 catches.

In the ODI’s played 147 matches, scored 3,902 at an average of 28.27, two centuries and 22 half centuries, highest score of 117 not out, bowled 264 over, captured 26 wickets average of 52.07,2 for 25 being the best figures and held 49 catches.


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