Sanath Jayasuriya-A True Odi and World Cup Great
The change to colour clothing in the World Cup in 1992 in Australia brought about a change in tactics that to be frank made a few see 'red'.This in regards to the early over onslaughts instigated by New Zealand's Mark Greatbach.For in the past the openers were given license to construct an innings,but after the success of Greatbach mauling from ball one in 1992.The game changed forever and every Team started following suit
Every Team had varying success in finding these players but it was Sri Lanka who struck gold in a man that was viewed initially as a bowler who could bat a bit in Sanath Jayasuriya.The man behind this success was the tough as teak Sri Lankan Captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who told Jayasuriya to go open in Odi's and trail blaze and he'd back him to the hilt.This was in 1993 and after a few initial failures. The seeds had been sown for the man that was in truth probably the most feared man in the modern odi game.
To truly sum him up he was the first that made every ball count when batting....
In the 1996 World Cup he was a wrecking ball that no Team had an answer too as seen in glaring evidence in the quarter final against England where he mauled 82 from 44 balls.Which prompted this response from England's Alec Stewart...
'If he belts the good balls to the boundary and into the stands....what will he do with the bad balls.........'
Real fear and bewilderment in that quote as to how to deal with this little Sri Lankan. As was seen by the unfortunate Indian's previously in the Tournament.
So after this iconic victory for his Nation in this Tournament his legend was cast in stone and rather than being a case of 15 minutes of fame he blazed other moments of glory....
To the point where his name must go down as one of the best Odi players the game has ever seen.Im not one for records, but Sanath's don't lie
444 matches,13428 Runs,Average 32.43,Strikerate 91.22,28 Centuries and 68 50's
Then to show his value in this form of the game his bowling figures were stellar too:
322 Wickets at 36.72 with an economy rate of 4.78
These are indeed the figures of a truly elite performer and though his form and the depth of quality in Sri Lankan cricket at present couldn't justify him being in this Tournament
We as fans cant help but bemoan his absence, for such was the legacy of joy and excitement he gave to the fans.