"From the age of nine years, he used to play tennis ball cricket with the neighbouring children. This became a problem for me, as this child used to rocket the ball and deposit it in the adjoining Temple premises, by hoisting "sixers". The kind hearted Nayaka Thera, tolerated all this. I thought that it is not proper to disturb the Nayaka Hamuduruwo. So, I sent him for Under-11 cricket practices at St. Xervatius College."
These sentiments were expressed sometime back to me by Mrs. Breeda Jayasuriya, the beloved mother of Sanath Tehran Jayasuriya.
The tiny tot, Sanath, who deposited "sixers" at the Temple premises then, presently holds the One Day International world record for sixers by recording 270 sixers during his career, at all the world famous international cricket arenas, playing in 444 matches, and 432 innings. He collected 13,328 runs and remained unbeaten on 18 occasions. His highest ODI score is 189. He has an average of 32.43 and a strike rate of 91.22, with 28 centuries and 68 half centuries with 1500 hits to the ropes. As an outstanding fielder, he has held 123 catches in this ‘Cow-Boy Game’.
In his Test cricket career, Sanath whacked 59 sixers, and 910 boundaries. He played in 110 Tests, and in 188 innings, he remained unbeaten 14 times, collected 6973 runs. His highest score was 340. I had the fortune of commentating during this record-breaking innings at the R. Premadasa Stadium in 1997.
He made 14 centuries and 31 half centuries in his his Test career. Further, he held 78 catches.
He bowled 8188 balls, gave away 3366 runs and captured 98 wickets in his Test career. Further, in his ODI career, he bowled 14,838 balls, gave away 11,825 runs and captured 322 wickets.
I always highly appreciated his sterling, charming qualities and his fighting spirit. I have been following his unique and epic career right throughout. For a moment, I think cricket is a ‘Sansaragatha Puruddak’ in the sojourn of ‘Samsara’. He is undoubtedly a born cricketer. He is the most feared batsmen in the world - he mauled many bowlers in the world.
Today, Matara and Sanath Jayasuriya is synonymous, inseperable. It’s like treacle and honey of Ruhuna.
I always witnessed leadership qualities in him. He always put country before self. He is a simple, unassuming village lad. He respects his parents, teachers and elders and is very religious. In fact, his ‘Pirith Noola’ symbolises Buddhism and culture and his firm belief.
Sanath took up the captaincy in 1999 after the ‘Arjuna Ranatunga debacle’ at the World Cup 1999 in England. Sanath was never a haughty or head-strong character. He is loved by everyone.
Today, he has entered into a new lane - politics. He is contesting from the Matara District. I am positive that he will maul his opponents in his own inimitable style. He is quite capable of doing it.
I must congratulate His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa, for nominating him and giving an opportunity to Sanath to contest from his home base of Matara. This village lad will always remember his roots and he will always put country before self.
My memory goes back to 9th March 1996, when I commentated from Faisalabad on the England-Sri Lanka World Cup quarter final. I really enjoyed the swashbuckling innings of Sanath Jayasuriya. He blasted the Englishmen and scored 82 blistering runs in just 44 balls. For a moment, I felt sorry for the English attack. They looked liked merely pedestrians. The 100,000 spectators who watched this encounter at Faisalabad will forever remember this ‘massacre’.
Probably, Sanath Jayasuriya will play his normal game on 8th April 2010, and the grateful people of Matara District, will make Sanath - Man of the Match in this great battle, and strengthen the hands of our President, His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa.
I draw your attention to a ‘box story’ carried on 10th March 1996 in Pakistan’s English daily - Dawn. The headline read; ‘Has Sanath fixed a spring inside his magical bat?" The writer of Dawn translated this story from an Urudu Daily ‘Jung’. The way that Sanath pummelled the English attack at Faisalabad was unbelievable. The poor Englishmen would have thought for a moment, why on earth did we introduce cricket to Ceylon in the good old days.
In presume, Sanath in his new game will maul and thrash his opponents right royally. For many of his opponents, Sanath’s ‘innings’ at his pocket burrow - Matara, on April 8th, will be their swan song.
One of the innings that is etched in my memory is the one he played against India, at Kotla. In that match Sanath scored 79 runs, at almost a run a ball. What was the outcome of this match? At the conclusion of the World Cup 1996, the Indian opening bowler, who was really blasted by Sanath Jayasuriya, gave up his cricket career. It was Jayasuriya who pushed the Indian opening bowler Manoj Prabhakar to Indian politics.
At the conclusion of the World Cup 1996, Sanath jayasuriya earned the title ‘Most Valuable Player’. Don’t be surprised, if after the conclusion of ‘2010 battle’, Sanath will earn another title - ‘Man of the Match - Matara District’.
I still remember, his 111 against New Zealand in Napier, Maclean Park, when he associated with Upul Tharanga, another Southerner, in the ODI series in New Zealand. In this match, they were associated in a partnership of over 200 runs for the first wicket and Sanath’s contribution was 111 runs with five sixers and 14 hits to the ropes.
He made his Test debut against New Zealand in Hamilton on February 22 in 1991. His last Test was against England at Kandy from December 1-5, in 2009.
I commentated when he scored his epic 300 plus against India played at R. Premadasa Stadium in 1997.
Born on June 30, 1969, in Kotuwegoda, Matara, his beloved parents are Dunstan Jayasuriya and Breeda Jayasuriya. His elder brother is Chandana Srinath Jayasuriya. He learned his basics in cricket from Lionel Wagasinghe and Gratien Liyanage. The then Principal at St. Servatius, Mr. Galappati and the staff-members, old-boys and well-wishes were a tower of inspiration to Sanath Jayasuriya.
The major teams Sanath has represented are - Sri Lanka, Asia XI, Bloomfield C and AC, Colombo Cricket Club, Dolphins, MCC, Mumbai Indians, Ruhuna and Somerset. He is a left-hand bat and slow left arm orthodox bowler.
In 1996, Sri Lanka did not annex the Wills World Cup on 17 March 1996 at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, Pakistan, purely because of the ‘Matara Mauler’, ‘Master Blaster’, unassuming southerner Sanath jayasuriya. But I am positive that they could not have lifted the Trophy without Jayasuriya and that great all-rounder and batting artist, Aravinda De Silva, who scored 107 n.o. No doubt, it was a brilliant team effort.
The gentle Sanath Jayasuriya, although he has harmed many international bowlers of repute, is a perfectionist. He takes up challenges and is committed to his job. He spends many hours in the gymnasium and he is as fit as a fiddle.
Once Shane Warne said that his hand was so strong that "his handshake could crush a walnut."
Sanath not only turned ODI cricket up side down. He also opened the gates to outstation cricketing talents of Sri Lanka to blossom. He was never jealous and never had private agendas. He always gave opportunities to deserving cricketers.
Some day when the cricket chronicle of Sri Lanka is written, his name will be written in Gold as the man who crushed the so-called ‘Colombo elite schools’. His leadership was democratic. Jayasuriya served commendably, as Sri Lanka’s cricket captain after Arjuna Ranatunga was sacked in 1999 and Sanath Jayasuriya built a happy and united team.
He had the distinction of producing the fastest century and fifty. Singapore was the scene. Sanath broke the record for the fastest ODI century and fifty within six days.
Married to Sandra, that charming epitome of womanhood, they are blessed with sweet daughters, Savindi, Yalindi and son Ranuk. Sanath’s wife Sandra is the wind behind this cricketer turned politician.
Sanath - Obata, Ratata, Suba Anagathayak!