Cricketers pick their favourites

'Always lethal, very consistent'

Part five: Bowl a fraction wide at Sanath Jayasuriya and you were history (00:00)

Producer: Ranjit Shinde

May 22, 2012


Sanath Jayasuriya

'Always lethal, very consistent'

May 22, 2012

Sanath Jayasuriya cuts, Sri Lanka v India, Compaq Cup, 3rd match, Colombo, September 12, 2009
"I hated him as a batsman" © AFP

Why I rate Sanath Jayasuriya: obviously his record shows how great he was as a player, as a cricketer, as an allrounder, as an ambassador - huge personality in Sri Lanka.

He hammered us all the time, me and Waqar. I remember his first Test against us, in 1989-90 maybe, in Sialkot, where he got 80. He used to come in at No. 6. We got told that this guy is a very good player. When he came out to bat for the first time I said, "Okay, how good can he be?" I was 24-25, young, on the Sialkot wicket, lots of grass, four slips, two gullies... and this guy was hitting us through gully, gully and point.

He was a very, very strong off-side player. If you bowl an inch short outside off stump, he will hit you in a different area every time - in front of point, behind point, in front of cover, extra cover. So that's why he was difficult. And in one-day cricket he was even more lethal. I think he was one of the few batsmen who hit me for quite a few sixes. I remember two out of two in Kenya, just cutting, over point. That's very rare, and I hated him as a batsman. He was very dangerous, very good reflexes.

I knew I had a chance against him, but in one-day cricket there were no bouncers, mind you. I played around 360 one-dayers, out of which 300 I must have played with no bouncers, on those Sharjah wickets! That's where Sanath was lethal. And he got runs in Test cricket as well, at No. 6 against us. Eventually I got him quite a few times. Whenever Sanath came in, I would tell myself, "Waz, don't bowl to him outside off stump." if anything, the ball has to go from middle, going away from him. Slightly off line and he will cut you at his will, and he was very strong.

Waqar was actually very lethal against him because he used to bowl full, inswinging yorkers with the new ball. Sanath was not a very good front-foot player - he used to always hang on the crease and wait for the short delivery. On the other hand, I used to take the ball away from him with the new ball, and I think that's what he loved. You can't bowl the ball on the same line when the pressure in on and a player like Sanath is batting… you are bound to make a mistake, and whenever you made a mistake he was always there.

Just don't give him room, just try to bowl the away swinger from the middle stump, don't give him a chance to play a cut shot or back-foot drive. That was my plan. Most times on slow wickets it never worked. But that was the only plan that I had, and of course the variations - the slow ball. I got him quite a few times with the slow ball. He went for the cut and was caught behind because there was bounce.

You knew as a bowler that you had a chance, but in one-day cricket there was an 80-20 chance against that guy. He was always very lethal and very consistent. We used to play every day, I suppose, against Sri Lanka, so 9 out of 44 is not a good score.

Posted by Balumekka on (May 24, 2012, 9:42 GMT)

Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana changed the dimensions of ODI. They were the first opening pair to thrash the bowling from both the ends and it is great to see the good comments on Jayasuriya by a great cricketer like Wasim.

Posted by   on (May 23, 2012, 0:52 GMT)

Sana will be remembered as the man who start cut sixes over point.

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