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Sunday, 8 February 2009

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Unmatchable splendour

If India's Sachin Tendulkar is the prince of cricket for his batting genius regarded only second to the legendary Sir Donald Bradman, but in records ahead of the late Australian, Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya coming the closest to Tendulkar in terms of the highest one-day international runs (13,070) from 428 matches as against the Indian's 16,427 from 419 outings is indeed glowing testimony of a Sri Lankan genius with the bat; a decoration of a young bloke from Sri Lanka's historically famous city of Matara whose weight of the bat brought him to the city metropolis from where he has made cricket history from many milestones, now heightened by his 28th century at that level in the first ODI against the touring Indians on the tricky Dambulla wicket.

Covered in cowboy like coloured clothing that spices up day night cricket of the sort and riding high with his bat as the oldest ODI batsman in the firmament at 39 years and 212 days indeed Jayasuriya, who dips around his waist with his hands while taking strike before launching into a bowling attack , is a typical sight of an old warrior fanning the willow about; his dark complexion accentuating the batsman as a typical symbol in his trade like the black prince of cricket after Brian Lara whose powerful hands wield his bat so gloriously over the top particularly bathing night cricket under searing lights in such colourful splendour as the ball soars magnificently for six.

This familiar Jayasuriya sight that he enveloped the game of cricket in both versions before preserving his best in mellowing age only for ODIs today, continues to highlight the sport in a batting feat that only Jayasuriya can unleash and that has come to be marvelled at by critics and lovers throughout the globe. This itself is a tribute to the Sri Lankan master batsman whose unorthodox type of caning the ball whether it is brand new or in rag doll state is a magnificent sight as he clubs the ball in a repertoire of strokes from the square cut that sends it scorching through the gaps that he has perfected to most often send over the top, the heave on the leg side, the dancing drive over the top in a type of improvision that the game has in fact never seen before.

That in fact Jayasuriya alone breathed new dimensions into cricket with his improvised pinch hitting must singularly set him apart like a Sri Lankan lion true to the depiction of his country's national flag going about caning bowlers throughout the cricket globe, both at home and away in such majestic style.

Scripting Jayasuriya's heroics in an adventurous career sets him apart. The left hand opening batsman's standing records include the fastest one-day fifty and the third highest treble century in Test cricket were followed by his milestone 13,000 runs that he decked himself with at Dambulla at the expense of the Indian bowling attack. In fact his record 334 too happens to be against the Indians also at home while his fastest fifty at that level was against Pakistan in a Singapore Triangular tournament.

That his ton at Dambulla also broke some other records including England's famously stonewalling former opening batsman Geoff Boycott's record in becoming the oldest ODI batsman to score a century whose ton was at age 39 and 51 days at Sydney in 1979 which significantly bridged a 30-year long period further speaks of the old man of Sri Lankan cricket who continues to capture the world with his magic wand; a greatness that the Sri Lankan cricket hierarchy is doing its best to preserve for the 2011 World Cup. Nursing Jayasuriya with care that he would be in good fickle come one-day cricket's showpiece carnival is paramount. It is this preservation that speaks volumes of Jayasuriya's fitness into which the foreign as well as local juggernaut of trainers pump in much muscle.

What they will need to address will certainly be the concern of Jayasuriya tiring out with cramps as he did at Dambulla which prevented the Sri Lankan batsman from a further run feast that would have given his side the much needed impetus that he could have produced with his bat.

Conspicuously, Sanath Jayasuriya has ushered in an era that by all accounts of his batting prowess will dictate the game to bowlers until he decides to call it a day; an era that must fittingly spiral the Sri Lanka in the tall portals of the posterity of the game; the black superman of cricket the likes of innovation that by all accounts awill never be matched.

 

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