Openers November 23, 2009

Destroyers and others

The candidates for the openers' slots are two firebrand attackers and three more conventional batsmen
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Ask any selector and he will tell you that picking a pair of openers is one of the most difficult tasks. In their pre-Test years Sri Lanka (or All Ceylon as it was known then) had some famous pairs, among them MK Albert and LDS Gunasekera (who were called Sri Lanka's Hobbs and Sutcliffe), followed by Dr C Balakrishnan and Dr Nihal Gurusinghe, TCT Edwards and Mano Ponniah, and Sunil Wettimuny and Bandula Warnapura.

After the country's elevation to Test status in 1981, they initially struggled to find a suitable pair of openers who could provide a substantial platform for their array of middle-order stroke-makers to make capital use of. It was not until the nineties that Sri Lanka eventually found a reliable pair to provide good starts and enable the middle order to stabilise the innings, when Sanath Jayasuriya paired successfully with Marvan Atapattu. They have to date been the most successful pair of openers produced by the country in its short Test history, although individually there have been others who were impressive, but had to team up with several different partners.

Following closely in their footsteps is Tillakaratne Dilshan, who has taken modern cricket by storm with his improvised batting, which has fielding sides scratching their heads in search of answers to his mode of play.

The contenders

Marvan Atapattu
A technically correct batsman, his first six innings in Test cricket yielded five ducks and a 1. But those runs were made as a middle-order batsman. The full potential of Atapattu was realised when he was promoted to open the innings, from which position he reeled off 16 Test centuries, eight of them over the 150 mark. Atapattu also served as captain, and ended his career amid controversy, after he labelled the national selectors "a set of muppets headed by a joker", albeit as a successful batsman, with a Test career average of nearly 40.

Sanath Jayasuriya
With opening partner Romesh Kaluwitharana, Jayasuriya revolutionised one-day-international batting, approaching the first 15 overs as one would the last 15. This mode of attack enabled Sri Lanka to win the World Cup in 1996, and went on to become the standard batting strategy in ODIs. Few thought Jayasuriya would be able to transfer that method to the longer game, but he proved his critics wrong, scoring a massive 340 against India in a partnership of 576 with Roshan Mahanama for the second wicket. Renowned for his powerful cuts and pulls and his trademark lofted cut over cover, he was the most destructive opening batsman produced by Sri Lanka. Jayasuriya ended his Test career averaging 40, and slightly more as an opener.

Roshan Mahanama
The tragedy of Mahanama was that through his international career he never held a permanent place in the batting order for long, which eventually led to him quitting the game rather prematurely. Primarily a top-order batsman, he served his country with distinction as an opener, scoring over 2000 runs in 41 Tests.

Sidath Wettimuny
A grafter of runs who scored his country's first Test century, a six-hour 157 in Faisalabad, and a monumental 190 in 11 hours on his first appearance at Lord's, which made him the first Sri Lankan to make it to Wisden' Five Cricketers of the Year. A strong off-side player, he never mastered home pitches, averaging a poor 18.19 in comparison with his batting average of 39.95 overseas.

Tillakaratne Dilshan
Not as destructive as Jayasuriya, Dilshan has more or less fit into the great man's position as opener after languishing in the middle order for more than half his career. Dilshan's promotion to opener, from the lower middle order, has brought many riches to the Sri Lanka side. Like Atapattu, his potential was not realised until he was pushed into the position, where he has established himself as a permanent fixture in all three formats of the game. It was in the last World Twenty20 that he carved a niche for himself with an improvised shot where he flicked the ball over the wicketkeeper's head.

We'll be publishing an all-time Sri Lanka XI based on readers' votes to go with our jury's XI. To pick your openers click here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • unchained on February 25, 2010, 22:13 GMT

    sanath and attapatu opens. the middle order will be the challenge here.

  • Mithraya on February 25, 2010, 21:57 GMT

    My TEST Team

    1.Marvan Attapattu, 2. Roy Dais, 3. Kumar Sangakkara,4. Aravinda De Silva, 5. Arjuna Ranatunga(C), 6.Mahela Jaywardena, 7&8 (Mahesh Gunatilaka.Ravi Ratnayake, DS De Silva, Asantha De Mell, or Lasith Malinga) 9.Chaminda Vass, 10.Rumesh Ratnayake 11. M Muralidharan 12th Man . Sanath Jayasuriya

    7 & * Depends on the wicked . If Mahesh Gunatilaka doesnt Play sangakkara shoud bat at no 5 and Arjuna Rantunga should bat at No 7 and Mahela be at No 6 : If Lasith Malinga should bat at No 10 and 9 & 10 - Up one place.

    50 Over Team 1. Sanath J 2. TM Dilshan 3. Kumar S(WK) 4. Aravinda De 5. Mahela Ja 6. Arjuna R(C) 7 & 8. Russel A/Kumara D/R Kaluwithana/Rumesh R/De S Se Silva (WK) 9 Chaminda Vass 10 Lasith Malinga 11 M Muralitharan 7 & 8 - Depends on the wicket : Rumesh K will Keep if selected

    20 Over Team 1. Santh 2. Dilshan 3.Sanga 4. Aravinda 5. Mahela 6 Arjuna (C) 7. Romesh K(WK) 8. Matthews 9. Rumesh R 10. Malinga 11. Murali/ De S 12th Russel A/K Weeraratne

  • tmjaya1981 on February 25, 2010, 16:00 GMT

    my all team sri lanka Marvan,Sidath Wettimuny,Roy Dias , Sanga (WK), Aravinda, Mahela (C), Ranatunga , Ravi Rathnayke, Vass, Rumesh Rathnayke, Murali, D S de Silva and 12th Man Mahanama

  • Rosh1 on February 25, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    For God's sake people... we are discussing about OPENERS for TEST cricket and not the TEAM nor the OTHER FORMS of cricket. So please hold your breath and be patient without junmping into conclusion and predicting your own teams. Lets wait till the nominations are announced for the other positions.

  • on February 24, 2010, 18:57 GMT

    any time sanath jayasurya.

  • CRICKET.LK on February 24, 2010, 10:31 GMT

    TEST : 1.MARVAN 2.SANATH 3.SANGA 4.MAHELA 5.ARAVINDA 6.[cap]ARJUNA 7.HASHAN 8.[wk]PRASANNA J. 9.VASS 10.RUMESH R. 11. MURALI

    ODI : 1.SANATH 2.DILSHAN 3.MAHELA 4.[wk]SANGA 5.ARAVINDA 6.[cap]ARJUNA 7.ARNOLD 8.DHARMASENA 9.VASS 10.RUMESH R. 11.MURALI

    T20 {it can make few teams.....how ever............!} 1.SANATH 2.DILSHAN 3.MAHELA 4.ARAVINDA 5.[cap, wk]SANGA 6.ARNOLD 7.MATHIEVS 8.VASS 9.VASS 10.MALINGA L. 11.MURALI

  • on February 24, 2010, 9:53 GMT

    Jayasuriya ! yes definitely. But a close call between Dilshan and Atapattu. To be frank, the timing of the survey is tricky and it would be premature to pick Dilshan ahead of Atapattu at this stage, when you are talking about only TEST team. Dilshan is destructive, but at this stage he does not have the big double hundreds under his name to prove that he is the best (in test matches). Atapattu on the other hand, loved to make those big hundreds and was a very sound technician on bouncy wickets. So Jayasuriya and Atapattu at this stage, but who knows in 5 years time, when the same list is made, Dilshan might figure in that. I am sure most of the Srilankans would agree with me.

  • KasunD on February 24, 2010, 9:16 GMT

    From Below 14 players Sri LAnka can select a team depending on the conditions.

    1.Sanath,2.Dilshan,3.Marvan,4.Aravinda,5.Mahela (C),6.Sangakkara(W),7.Vass, 8.Somachandra de silva,9.Rumesh Rathnayake,10.Ashantha de Mel, 11.Muralidhren reserves. 12.Lasith Malinga,13.Ajith De Silva,14.Mahesh Gunathilaka

  • HLANGL on February 24, 2010, 8:16 GMT

    This article is just for the openers, Jayasuriya should be an ultimate pick.The next would be Atapattu though he's not quite there to be rated as a great but in my openion was good enough to partner Jayasuriya in all time SL XI, especially in the longer format.If you consider the complete XI, Aravinda De Silva would come into the side without any doubt.The other unanimous choice would be Mahadevan Sathasivam who unfortunately had to play an era where SL didn't have the full membership in ICC.Yet, he's the king of SL batsmen before De Silva came to prominence in 1990s.Sathasivam may still be the potentially best conventional batsmen produced by SL, so I'd rate [Sathasivam, Jayasuriya & De Silva] are the special thresome in SL batting given both the amount of runs they scored & the manner in which they took the opponents.No insult to S'kara & Mahela, but they are behind. Both have gathered seemingly better stats by mainly accumulating runs.CI Gunasekara & FC De Seram were quite good too.

  • Theena on February 24, 2010, 8:04 GMT

    I think it's fairly ridiculous to consider Dilshan in the opening slot. We forget that before he was reborn as a dashing opener, he was a pretty inconsistent middle order batsman. And, as good as he has been in the opening slot thus far, he's only been doing it for a year or so - too short a period, in my opinion, for proper perspective on his place in Sri Lanka XI. I will probably end up disagreeing with this list as a whole (see my XI below). Where, for instance, does Sangakkara come in if Aravinda and Mahela take up the number 3 and 4 batting slots respectively as they inevitably should? Sangakkara is too good a batsman to waste in the lower middle order which is why I'd have him open the batting along with Sanath, handing over wicket-keeping duties to Hashan Thilakaratne. As it stands though I'll choose Sanath and Marvan to open.

  • unchained on February 25, 2010, 22:13 GMT

    sanath and attapatu opens. the middle order will be the challenge here.

  • Mithraya on February 25, 2010, 21:57 GMT

    My TEST Team

    1.Marvan Attapattu, 2. Roy Dais, 3. Kumar Sangakkara,4. Aravinda De Silva, 5. Arjuna Ranatunga(C), 6.Mahela Jaywardena, 7&8 (Mahesh Gunatilaka.Ravi Ratnayake, DS De Silva, Asantha De Mell, or Lasith Malinga) 9.Chaminda Vass, 10.Rumesh Ratnayake 11. M Muralidharan 12th Man . Sanath Jayasuriya

    7 & * Depends on the wicked . If Mahesh Gunatilaka doesnt Play sangakkara shoud bat at no 5 and Arjuna Rantunga should bat at No 7 and Mahela be at No 6 : If Lasith Malinga should bat at No 10 and 9 & 10 - Up one place.

    50 Over Team 1. Sanath J 2. TM Dilshan 3. Kumar S(WK) 4. Aravinda De 5. Mahela Ja 6. Arjuna R(C) 7 & 8. Russel A/Kumara D/R Kaluwithana/Rumesh R/De S Se Silva (WK) 9 Chaminda Vass 10 Lasith Malinga 11 M Muralitharan 7 & 8 - Depends on the wicket : Rumesh K will Keep if selected

    20 Over Team 1. Santh 2. Dilshan 3.Sanga 4. Aravinda 5. Mahela 6 Arjuna (C) 7. Romesh K(WK) 8. Matthews 9. Rumesh R 10. Malinga 11. Murali/ De S 12th Russel A/K Weeraratne

  • tmjaya1981 on February 25, 2010, 16:00 GMT

    my all team sri lanka Marvan,Sidath Wettimuny,Roy Dias , Sanga (WK), Aravinda, Mahela (C), Ranatunga , Ravi Rathnayke, Vass, Rumesh Rathnayke, Murali, D S de Silva and 12th Man Mahanama

  • Rosh1 on February 25, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    For God's sake people... we are discussing about OPENERS for TEST cricket and not the TEAM nor the OTHER FORMS of cricket. So please hold your breath and be patient without junmping into conclusion and predicting your own teams. Lets wait till the nominations are announced for the other positions.

  • on February 24, 2010, 18:57 GMT

    any time sanath jayasurya.

  • CRICKET.LK on February 24, 2010, 10:31 GMT

    TEST : 1.MARVAN 2.SANATH 3.SANGA 4.MAHELA 5.ARAVINDA 6.[cap]ARJUNA 7.HASHAN 8.[wk]PRASANNA J. 9.VASS 10.RUMESH R. 11. MURALI

    ODI : 1.SANATH 2.DILSHAN 3.MAHELA 4.[wk]SANGA 5.ARAVINDA 6.[cap]ARJUNA 7.ARNOLD 8.DHARMASENA 9.VASS 10.RUMESH R. 11.MURALI

    T20 {it can make few teams.....how ever............!} 1.SANATH 2.DILSHAN 3.MAHELA 4.ARAVINDA 5.[cap, wk]SANGA 6.ARNOLD 7.MATHIEVS 8.VASS 9.VASS 10.MALINGA L. 11.MURALI

  • on February 24, 2010, 9:53 GMT

    Jayasuriya ! yes definitely. But a close call between Dilshan and Atapattu. To be frank, the timing of the survey is tricky and it would be premature to pick Dilshan ahead of Atapattu at this stage, when you are talking about only TEST team. Dilshan is destructive, but at this stage he does not have the big double hundreds under his name to prove that he is the best (in test matches). Atapattu on the other hand, loved to make those big hundreds and was a very sound technician on bouncy wickets. So Jayasuriya and Atapattu at this stage, but who knows in 5 years time, when the same list is made, Dilshan might figure in that. I am sure most of the Srilankans would agree with me.

  • KasunD on February 24, 2010, 9:16 GMT

    From Below 14 players Sri LAnka can select a team depending on the conditions.

    1.Sanath,2.Dilshan,3.Marvan,4.Aravinda,5.Mahela (C),6.Sangakkara(W),7.Vass, 8.Somachandra de silva,9.Rumesh Rathnayake,10.Ashantha de Mel, 11.Muralidhren reserves. 12.Lasith Malinga,13.Ajith De Silva,14.Mahesh Gunathilaka

  • HLANGL on February 24, 2010, 8:16 GMT

    This article is just for the openers, Jayasuriya should be an ultimate pick.The next would be Atapattu though he's not quite there to be rated as a great but in my openion was good enough to partner Jayasuriya in all time SL XI, especially in the longer format.If you consider the complete XI, Aravinda De Silva would come into the side without any doubt.The other unanimous choice would be Mahadevan Sathasivam who unfortunately had to play an era where SL didn't have the full membership in ICC.Yet, he's the king of SL batsmen before De Silva came to prominence in 1990s.Sathasivam may still be the potentially best conventional batsmen produced by SL, so I'd rate [Sathasivam, Jayasuriya & De Silva] are the special thresome in SL batting given both the amount of runs they scored & the manner in which they took the opponents.No insult to S'kara & Mahela, but they are behind. Both have gathered seemingly better stats by mainly accumulating runs.CI Gunasekara & FC De Seram were quite good too.

  • Theena on February 24, 2010, 8:04 GMT

    I think it's fairly ridiculous to consider Dilshan in the opening slot. We forget that before he was reborn as a dashing opener, he was a pretty inconsistent middle order batsman. And, as good as he has been in the opening slot thus far, he's only been doing it for a year or so - too short a period, in my opinion, for proper perspective on his place in Sri Lanka XI. I will probably end up disagreeing with this list as a whole (see my XI below). Where, for instance, does Sangakkara come in if Aravinda and Mahela take up the number 3 and 4 batting slots respectively as they inevitably should? Sangakkara is too good a batsman to waste in the lower middle order which is why I'd have him open the batting along with Sanath, handing over wicket-keeping duties to Hashan Thilakaratne. As it stands though I'll choose Sanath and Marvan to open.

  • Theena on February 24, 2010, 7:53 GMT

    I was wondering if the likes of Sathasivam and De Saram would be included in the reckoning for the all time SL XI, the former, after all, was called on the finest batsman in the world by none other than Sir Frank Worrel and Sir Gary Sobers. Them playing before Sri Lanka had test status would probably mean they are out though, which is a pity. At any rate, my XI would be something like this: Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva, Mahela Jayawardene, Arjuna Ranatunga (c), Hashan Tillakaratne (wk), Chaminda Vaas, Romesh Ratnayake, Rangana Herath/Ajantha Mendis (too early in both cases to be included at all, but there is a dearth in choice for a second spinner to support Murali), Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan.

  • Thusha on February 24, 2010, 7:43 GMT

    If it's TESTs Dilshan cannot make it among all time greats though we admire his competence in Twenty-20 and ODI's. My Selection woud be; 1.Marvan, 2. Jayasuria, 3. Aravinda, 4. Mahela Jayawardene (C), 5. Sangakarra, 6. Ranatunge, 7. Ravi Ratnayake, 8. Vaas, 9. Malinga, 10. Asantha De Mel, 11. Murali 12. Roshan Mahanama (for his nimble fielding skills)

  • on February 24, 2010, 7:41 GMT

    My all time SL X1- Marvan, Sanath, Sanga (WK), Aravinda, Mahela (C) , Dulip Mendis, Ravi Rathnayke, Vass, Rumesh Rathnayke, Murali, D S de Silva and 12th Man Anjelo

  • Charindra on February 24, 2010, 7:21 GMT

    It's easy to just pick a team which is a nice blend of the '96 world cup team and players who played after that. But it'll be interesting to see where Mahadevan Sathasivam features. Sobers and Frank Worrell called him the "best batsman they had ever seen" so that has to count for something.

    Unfortunately I have never even seen him.

  • aruntheselector on February 24, 2010, 6:52 GMT

    I dont know why cricinfo is selecting the all time LankaXI before India,West Indies & Pakistan who started playing test cricket almost 30-50 years before Lanka.Also the other 3 teams have produced more legends than Lanka and the pool of top class players is relatively less to choose from for a Lanka TestXI.However,hats off to Lankans for making a fast progress in International cricket including a few greats like Aravinda,Mahela,murali etc.People like Arjuna Ranatunga actually will not qualify as a top test cricketer compared to players from other teams even though he was instrumental in making Lanka a world beater.Also they never had a genuine all-rounder thereby selecting an all-time XI.My team is Jayasurya,Dilshan,Sanga,Aravinda,Mahela,Duleep Mendis,Kaluwitharana,Vaas,Malinga,Murali,Ajantha Mendis.Awaiting for all-time WI XI.They had so many players that 2 equally strong all-time XI can be formed.

  • Shen_Mark on February 24, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    Roshan Mahanama and Sidath Wettimuny would be my pick as openers. I would consider Attapattu one down but Sanath and Dilshan would only fit into the ODI team and T20 team.

  • on February 24, 2010, 4:31 GMT

    I would say 1. Marvan 2. Sanath 3. Aravinda 4. Mahela(c) 5. Sangakkara(w) 6. T.M.Dilshan 7. Angelo Mathews 8. Vaas 9. Lasith Malinga 10.Rangana herath 11. Murali , Its pretty early days for mathews but he looks like the genuine allrounder which we never had.

  • dunotalkplaycricket on February 24, 2010, 4:20 GMT

    Definitely Marvan and Sanath as openers. But Dilshan's spot is still to be seen .. Not most of the SL batsmen would score high on statistics except for Sanga .. Dilshan might find a place ..Also have to consider the threat he poses to the opposition , already 11 Centuries and counting .. all when he was settled in one spot .. poor guy he was made a Rahul Dravid ( in ODIs) in all 3 formats , also he kept wickets when required .. Statistics/threat to opposition/match winning capabilities/all round capabilities ( better fielder than most) .. DILSHAN would be there in my SL XI in the middle order .

  • Sathy on February 24, 2010, 3:18 GMT

    Yup no doubts on that.. Jayasuriya n Attapattu are easily sri lanka's all time best openers.. :)

  • RoshBosh on February 24, 2010, 1:45 GMT

    ma openin pair would be Sanath and Dilshan.. Pleanty of fire power at the top definitly wont hurt a teams prospects...

  • Nishan on February 24, 2010, 1:04 GMT

    My opinion Is sidath and Sanath. Sidath did well in the days when we were undedogs against top bowling, and sanath has done well for an aggresive player to average 40, Marvan though has scored 100's against everybody as far as i can recall. Roshan was a good fielder but his batting sufferd because he didnt know where he was batting.

    I hope Hashan, Dias and Rumesh ratnakye make the squad.. Feel bad for the early players before the test status, but most of us wouldnt have seen them

  • hoodbu on February 24, 2010, 0:50 GMT

    Jayasuria, Dilshan, Sangakkara (w), Aravinda, Dias, Mahela, Ranatunga (c), Ravi Ratneyeke, Vaas, Malinga, Murali

    Marvan was too inconsistent.

  • DwightR on February 23, 2010, 23:43 GMT

    Jayasuriya & Attapatu were the most consistent opening pair for sri lanka and for a long time their combination was the perfect balance of 'fire and ice'. Sanath's destruction and marvan's cool master strokes; they deserve to be SLXI openers, saying that Kalu definetly deserved at least a nomination for his role in changing the way openers bat but i think he will get his nod when we get to the wicketkeepers. Dilshan is only now in his prime so he gets my vote to over take marvans spot only if he continue to play consistently in the form he is now for a few more years.

  • neil666 on February 23, 2010, 23:29 GMT

    I think this should be the team. Jaya, Atapattu,Mahela, Aravinda, Arjuna, Sanga (WK), Mahanama,Murali,Vass, Rumesh Ratnayake,Wettamuni. Best of Sri Lanka forever.

  • El-Mucho-Grande on February 23, 2010, 23:29 GMT

    My SL XI: 1. Dilshan, 2. Jayasuria, 3. Aravinda, 4. Jayawardene, 5. Sangakarra, 6. Gurusinha, 7. Tillakaratne, 8. Vaas, 9. Malinga, 10. Zoysa, 11. Murali. 12th Man: Samaraweera

    Also note that Gurusinha has a batting average of above 38 and a bowling average at around 34. So arguably, he can be considered a decent allrounder, just like Jayasuria, and even possibly Vass. Dilshan has a batting average above 43 and his bowling average is around 36. If you include Aravinda in this (he has a bowling average if around 41, batting average of almost 43), you have 5 people who can bat and bowl.

    If you include the rest of the batsmen you have 8 recognized batsmen in total. If you include bowlers, you have a total of 8 bowling options in total. This also includes 4 spinning options.

    If Sangakarra keeps, you could remove Tillakaratne from the team and replace him with Samaraweera, therefore adding a better batsman.

    This would be my all time SL XI.

  • SLMelb on February 23, 2010, 23:27 GMT

    My test SL test XI would be; 1. Marwen Athapaththu 2. Roshan Mahanama 3. Mahela Jayawarrdana 4. Aravinda de Silva 5. Arjuna Ranathunga (C) 6. Hashan Thilakaraththne 7. Mahesh Gunathilaka (WK) 8. Rumesh Raththnayaka 9. Chaminda Vaas 10. TB Kehelgamuwa 11. Muththaiya Muralidaran

  • ygkd on February 23, 2010, 21:02 GMT

    Sanath Jayasuriya is a walk-in certainty, but the other spot is more arguable. How about Hashan Tillekeratne? He was much slower than SJ but then it doesn't hurt for openers to be different. And he's not likely to make it as a keeper given Kaluwitharana and Prassana Jayawardena.

  • on February 23, 2010, 20:32 GMT

    1 Marvan 2 Sanath 3 Sangakkara 4 Aravinda 5 Mahela 6 Thilan 7 Hashan 8 Vass 9 Rumesh Rathnayake 10 Murali 11 Mel

  • ChairmanValvod on February 23, 2010, 20:31 GMT

    Moving along, Dilshan, I think has shown himself, thus far, to be a pretty capable and captivating opener in equal measure. He's moving the jayasuriya path, but, has a much superior and proper batting technique than Jayasuriya could ever muster. He's got tremendous potential, and has been showing it off of late as well. Good for him and SL. These days it seems the Sri Lankan teams fortune's rise and fall with Dilshan's. Kudos to him. By the time his career ends he is sure to be an easy inclusion in any ALL time team for his country in any format. But all in all from the above list, its a pretty poor showing of the openers Sri Lanka has to offer, if these are their best. Jayasuriya apart, and Dilshan notwithstanding current form, not a single one of the contenders here are any where near in the vicinity of world class Test batsmen, much less, opening Test batsmen. By far, without a shred of any doubt, the best overall batsmen that SL has ever produced has to be, Aravinda DeSilva.

  • ChairmanValvod on February 23, 2010, 20:19 GMT

    If you look at Jayasuriya's numbers as a top test batsmen of world class, they are frankly ordinary. Nothing to jump up about or scream about. BUT, he along with a handful of cricketers, transcends numbers. He's an absolute must in any All Time SL XI, in any format. As for the rest, they are simply, as my good friend Sehwag would say, "ordinary." Have not the slightest idea as to why Wettimuny is on the list. Attapattu had excellent technique, one of the most techniquely gifted batsmen I've had the privilege to watch over the years. Mahanama was one of my favorite cricketers from SL growing up. He had good technique. Tremendous fielder, was probably worth his place in the Test side just for his fielding abilities. But in the end, like so many others, a tremendous potential unfullfilled. His numbers are particularly very sub-ordinary given how good he was: he played over 50 tests, scored barely over 2000 runs, and not even averaging a meager 30...and all as a "specialist batsman"!

  • ChairmanValvod on February 23, 2010, 20:01 GMT

    For the amount of time Sri Lanka has been in the Test arena, I guess the above list could be acceptable. Having said that, if the above batsmen, particularly their career statistics in tests, if that was the best countries like India, Pakistan, England, Australia, S.A., had to offer, I'd say it would be an atrocious display of their "best". None of the above batsmen has an average of over 50, forget 50, none even approcahes in the vicinity of 50. Furthermore, none of the "best" openers listed above have scored over 7000 Test runs. In fact, if you look at the numbers, the only opener listed above that even comes close to being counted as a world class Test opener is Jayasuriya. Numbers simply don't lie. Having said that, if I had to choose from the list above, it would have to be Jayasuriya and Attapattu. Jayasuriya is one of the few batsmen in world cricket that I know of, whose value to a team is far more than what the numbers display. Although his numbers for a top Test opene

  • on February 23, 2010, 19:36 GMT

    rip dilshan and include all time gr8z as my openers 'Sana and Marvan'

  • Mystical_wanderer on February 23, 2010, 19:02 GMT

    If we consider today s scenario,,, no doubt Dilshan & Suriya will make the cut t..there s no place for a guy like attapattu in this world now..... his presence at the top will only prohibit whatever spectators we are getting from coming....Plus his record too though decent,,but majority of his big scores came against weaker opposition or the dead grounds of lanka;;; which have made a useless chap like samarweera turn into the leading run scorer for a year...

  • svsingh on February 23, 2010, 18:44 GMT

    KandurataCavaliers sannath has the best average out of all sri lankan openers , even better than atapattu and mahanama yet u say he is un predictable

  • waspsting on February 23, 2010, 17:26 GMT

    fixtures in side - jayasuriya, de silva, mahela jayawardena, sangakarra, vaas and murali. of the rest.. some are more and some are less stable, but they all have to make their way in. for openers - i'd plump with jayasuriya and Dilshan. premature for the latter, but i have faith in his abilities. the solid openers weren't anything special - mahanama and atapattu, while wettimuny's record is pretty poor (never saw him play). lets see how this goes then.

  • Daredevil009_m on February 23, 2010, 17:08 GMT

    Sanath & Dilshan One down Marvan & two down Mahanama

  • CINEC on February 23, 2010, 16:48 GMT

    I don't know much about the past players, sry about that, i can only talk abot the players after 1996 only.. so my all time XI is 1.sanath 2.marven 3.sangakkara 4.aravinda 5.mahela 6.arjuna(cpt) 7.kaluwitharana(wk) 8.vass 9.murali 10.malinga 11.rangana {replacements = thilan,hashan,roshan, fenando,mendis}

  • 9ST9 on February 23, 2010, 15:59 GMT

    This is one of the easiest picks.. from 1997 to 2005 Atapattu and Jayasuriya opened the innings with great success in both formats of the game. I cant imagine why there should be an argument. These two are miles ahead of the rest.

  • on February 23, 2010, 15:55 GMT

    My a isll time XI, 1) Marvan Atapattu 2) Sanath Jayasuriya 3) Asanka Gurusingha 4) Aravinda De Silva 5) Arjuna Ranatunga/Sunil Wettimuni (Capt) 6) Anura Tennakoon 7) Mahesh Gonatilake 8) Chaminda Vass 9) Mevan Peiris 10) Muttiah Muralidharan 11) Ajith de Silva

    12th man - Roy Dias

    Sorry Madda, Sid, Ranil You are dropped.

  • on February 23, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    me go for SANATH & DILSHAN...both r explosive and once got themselves in...problems for opposition.

  • bishpera on February 23, 2010, 15:15 GMT

    SLXI - Sanath,Marvan,Sanga,Aravinda,Roy Dias,Mahela,Arjuna (capt),PrassanaJ(WK),Rumesh Ratnayake, Vass,Murali. One could argue on the balance. However, No one should get a place in a best XI for the sake of balance. When Murali bowls 40 overs for a day we can do with 3 bowlers and allrounders like Sanath,Aravinda and Arjuna to turn the arm over.

  • solangaarachchi on February 23, 2010, 15:14 GMT

    We can't forget the service of Roshan Mahanama and Chandike Hathurusinghe too. Sanath & Marvan are the most established pair in both forms of cricket. It is almost like shewag & Gambir today. It is difficult to believe that he is one of the most successful opener in SL Test arena considering his batting technique. But it has become a truth. Can't say much about Dilhan because he is in the peak of his career at the moment. Almost every ball he hits go to boundary.

  • A_HTIMAN on February 23, 2010, 14:43 GMT

    My first choice is Wettamuni because if a person can have an away batting average of 39.90 in 1980's that's equal to 70 in today. an average of 70 away from your home is rather great than having a good home average. Even he's performed great in England and the first Sri Lankan to enter 5 Wisden cricketers of the year even when Sri Lanka were rarely winning matches. That's far more great achievement. Next call is a tough ask between Jayasuriya and Atapattu and I go for Atapattu because he is technically correct and reliable than Jayasuriya. But if this is an ODI team it's defineately Jayasuriya and KAluwitharana

  • on February 23, 2010, 14:21 GMT

    My All time XI for SL team (Test) is

    Sanath Jayasuriya Tillakaratne Dilshan Marvan Athapattu Kumar Sangakkara Aravinda de Silva Mahela Jayawardena Arjuna Ranatunge Thilan Samaraweera Chaminda Vaas Muththiah Muralidaran Rangana Herath

    Dont think about the composition

  • RezaThahir on February 23, 2010, 14:12 GMT

    My team would be 1. Marvan 2. Sanath 3. Aravinda 4. Mahela 5. Sangakkara 6. Arjuna (C) 7. Hashan (w) 8. Vaas 9. Rumesh Rathnayake 10.Asantha De Mel 11. Murali

    i wud prefer to open dilshan with marvan but its too early, if dilshan can maintain the same foam then we can replace jaysuriya. Jayasuriya was never comfortable with test cricket esp. on hard bouncy wickets. very rarely he has performed in ENG, AUS, NZ, SA in test matches.

  • on February 23, 2010, 14:06 GMT

    Sanath Jayasuria and Attapattu are the best Sri lankhan openers

  • Kushh on February 23, 2010, 13:54 GMT

    DIL still has to prove himself in Oz, Eng & SA.... much to learn he still has... Its unanimous Sanath n Marven !

  • Philip_Gnana on February 23, 2010, 13:51 GMT

    Sanath and Marvan without a doubt. perfect foil for each other. ODI... then it will all change. Sanath and Dilshan. New Malden Surrey

  • chandau on February 23, 2010, 13:41 GMT

    People need to remember that this is a TEST XI and we got it only in 1981. That may mean some of the great players will be excluded (just like in a world rugby team in professional era). I think only around 110 players have been in test matches for Sri Lanka and of those many have played less than 10 (like some of those who went to South Africa and banned for life). It is interesting to note that most named above were never openers in school cricket. I had the pleasure of playing against Marvan who batted at 4 for Ananda in late 1980s. I remember watching Mahanama bat at 4 for Nalanda in early 1980s. (in 1983 he was out 1st ball bowled against Royal at Reid Avenue) Its a pity that most of the genuine openers have failed to establish at the top necessitating middle order batters to be slotted in like Dilshan at present. he figures will argue for Sanath - Marvan combination but Sidath W had the attributes of a test opener in most conditions as his stats will show. cheers :)

  • KandurataCavaliers on February 23, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    having gone through the 'contenders list' my pick will be the technical duo of ' Marvan Atapattu and Roshan Mahanama''. These are the two batsman's who can resist the opening seem bowling in any caliber execute clinically.

    Sanath... Jayasuriya... explosive! but, un-predictable...

  • smilesankar on February 23, 2010, 13:21 GMT

    My choice is solid Atapattu and aggressive Jayasuriya.

    They are only SL players who had scored more than 3000 Test runs and scored more than 3 centuries as opener. Easy picking!!

    Look at the stats of SL openers vs all Test playing nations (excluding Bangaldesh) ST Jayasuriya => 5068 runs at an avg of 40 with 11 centuries MS Atapattu => 3922 runs at an avg of 36 with 10 centuries

    TM Dilshan => Terrific start as as opener; scored 525 runs at avg of 65 in 5 test matches. But he need to continue his good form atleast for two more years to become the real contender for All time SL opener.

  • Brian07 on February 23, 2010, 13:09 GMT

    I think Sanath and Kalu was the best. They we so excited to watch. Now its Dilshan on the top list but but he need a new partner as santh has declined as an opener.

    Mahala has also done well as an opener too.

  • KosalaDeSilva on February 23, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    I always wonder why no one talk about the best fielder. Roshan Mahanama. i can remember those catches he took like flash and even slow motion camera was not easy to see the ball. Yes he was no the best batsman but the Best fileder and not many people talked about it.which is sad.

  • sanathhs on February 23, 2010, 11:49 GMT

    There is No choice other than Marvan and Sanath.also unlucky for dilshan.

  • pardo on February 23, 2010, 11:29 GMT

    Opening is where and all time SL Test XI will fall down. The best pick is probably Sanath and Atapattu but Atapatu is not world class. Take out his tests against Bangladesh and Zim and his average as an opener falls to 36. Entertaining as Sanath was his average as an opener against proper test teams is only 40. Compare those two with the openers for England, Oz, WI, India and SA and you see the problem. Aravinda, Mahala and Sanga would be a very tasty 3,4,5 (and beautiful to watch) but without a firm foundation the team would be scrapping it out with NZ and Pakistan for 6th place.

  • KevinJJJ on February 23, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    Sri Lanka Test All time XI must be : Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu, Kumar Sangakkara (WK/Vc), Mahela Jayawardena, Aravinda De Silva, Thilan Samaraweera, Hashan Tillakaratne, Chaminda Vass, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis Reserves : Dilshan, Dilhara, Arajuna. How about that. Can any team better this folks...????

  • on February 23, 2010, 10:53 GMT

    Definetly Sanath & Marvan d best out of them....

  • on February 23, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    truely Sanath & Marvan are the best of them..... Even they can be keep with Justin Langer & Mat Heyden....

  • raven4x4x on February 23, 2010, 10:39 GMT

    All those calling for Kalu: remember that this is a Test XI. Kalu in fact never opened in a test innings, and batted most often at number 7. I have no doubt he will have a place in the nominations lower down the order.

  • on February 23, 2010, 10:18 GMT

    Well in all times sri lankan cricket we wre lucky to see many a openers. From Sidath & bandula we had seen lot of opening combinations. it was so classy performance from Marvan, sidath, roshan we had seen many a good performances. dilhan & sanath are dashers. but there are some names we cannot forget like bendon, Charith senanayake, Chandika hathurusinghe, Dulip samaraweera who had done some fairness to job in test arena.

    But considering all marvan & sanath are the best. We so lot of appliactions from them. but if you will request to do the same job in 5 years time i may take dilshan in front of Sanath or marvan intests even.

  • Mr.niceguy on February 23, 2010, 10:16 GMT

    it should be sanath and marvan for sure. my all time geat XI for test will be as follows Sanath Marvan Sanga Aravinda Mahela Arjuna* Hashan / thilan vass murali malinga mendis / herath

  • Rosh1 on February 23, 2010, 9:55 GMT

    I voted for Marvan and Sanath. Sidath and Roshan do not have the average to boast to be openers for test cricket..especially at present when batsmen have averages of atleast 45+. Pity Dilshan has been given a nomination as an opener. I may try to find him a place in the middle order but not as an opener. He needs more time to prove. People please do not comment about Kalu as he was never an opener for test cricket and this team is to be picked for test cricket.

  • sabina2009 on February 23, 2010, 9:30 GMT

    I would definitely vote for Sanath Jayasuria and Atapattu. I have seen most of their matches and they seem to understand each others body language. These two openers have given some outstanding results for Sri Lanka.

  • SLfan on February 23, 2010, 9:24 GMT

    My choice is Sanath & Marvan. They preserve the left-right combination, & most important thing is the variety they present to the opposition....Destructiveness & Technically correctness at the same time...I think it's too early to consider Dilshan, since he's quite new to the opening slot... When considering the ODI averages, Marvan had an avg of 37.57 which is an excellent average especially for an opening batsman. Also this is the heighest ODI avg for any Sri Lankan batsman. Simply this alone sufficient to make him an all time opening batsman.Although Sanath's ODI batting avg is not much good, he's the one most suited to that opening slot due to his aggressiveness...Kalu also should have been among the nominees.

  • on February 23, 2010, 8:58 GMT

    Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu would probably elected by highest margin. They had that balance b/w them. Both had different kind of batting styles

  • on February 23, 2010, 8:45 GMT

    The best Openers for Srilanka... I go with Explosive SANATH and Classic ATTAPATTU

  • CricFan78 on February 23, 2010, 8:25 GMT

    Marvan and Jayasuriya would be my choice. Left-right combination and they complement each other beautifully.

  • fakhy on February 23, 2010, 8:18 GMT

    sanath and atapattu were definitely sri lanka's best openers in tests so far. Dilshan is a good nomination and may miss the cut due to the former two, so prolly he should be nominated for the middle-order slot as well.

  • Partha25 on February 23, 2010, 8:18 GMT

    Every one seems to bank on Attapattu along with sanath. But to me in the modern day cricket his(attapattu) average is not up to the mark considering his slow strike rate as well. He wasnt consistent enough to fit into the all times playing eleven. At least he should averaged mid forty. Dilshan seems to more consistent in the opening slot. Besides his aggressive batting make a very positive impact to the whole team. So to me sanath and dilshan would be great choice as a opener. My all time playing eleven for srilanka is( batting order wise): 1.Sanath Jayasuria,2.Dilshan, ,3.Aravinda Desilva,4.Jayawardne,5.Arjuna Ranatunga(captain),6.Samaraweera,7.Sangakara(wk), 8.Vass,9.Malinga,10.Fernando(in form)/Tushara,11.Murali.

  • HLANGL on February 23, 2010, 8:11 GMT

    Jayasuriya is the standout performer especially considering way he gathered his runs & the sheer impact made. Considering the longer term consistency, I'd pair him with Marven Atapattu, though it might sound a little unfair to Dilshan who has made a larger impact during the past 1+ years. Both Sidath & Mahanama won't be there in all time XI. In case of Mahanama, he's unlucky not to have a top order place permanently especially during the latter part of the career. The same well applied for Jayasuriya during the initial part of his career 89-94/95. How many times he had to convince the selectors he's well capabale even in the longer format by hammering memorable hundreds in second XI sides (over 500 runs in Pakistan in '89 including 2 doubles & 1 hundred, 154 at Welagedara against Indians, few hundreds in South Africa captaining under-24 side, etc.). Wettamuniy may have 2 hostorically significant test hundreds, that's it. Not to be classified as an all time player in my openion.

  • straight6 on February 23, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    Jayasuriya and Atapattu would be the openers i would fancy opening the Sri Lankan batting. There is no match for Jayasuriya, he is definately one of a kind, but Atapattu's contribution pips him ahead of Dilshan especially in the longer version of the game. I believe Atapattu was a true Test match opener and had quality about him in his strokeplay. He seemed to play fast bowling very well and he always played good knocks against Pakistan and took on the likes of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis very well. Dilshan has for the last couple of years performed very well and has done so and probably will go on to do better things, but he doesn't have the kind of quality strokeplay i would like to see in Test match cricket. 20-20 cricket is for sure the culprit and Dilshan tends to play this form of cricket very well, and may he continue to do well, but he definately needs to cut out the 'Dilshan Scoup' It looks ugly and ICC should intervene and but a ban on this!!

  • on February 23, 2010, 7:19 GMT

    Gotta go with Sanath and Marvan, which is close to the perfect chalk-and-cheese partnership - you have the solidarity of Atapattu at one end and the destructiveness of Jayasuriya at the other. I think Dilshan is not yet at an all-tme-great level, but he can certainly reach there one day. The tragedy for Mahanama is also that he had to shuffle around the order quite a bit, and thus never really got the opportunity to cement his place at the top of the order.

  • on February 23, 2010, 6:57 GMT

    The lack of little Kalu make me very dissapointed,but agree this is a test team and these people are more suitable for the openning slot of a test side.Although Mahanama is a good contended my pick would be Sana-Atapattu combination.

  • SLkrishan on February 23, 2010, 6:12 GMT

    Jayasuriya & Marvan will surely be the opening combination. If Dilshan performs like this for 2 more yrs then he'll replace Marvan. But I already voted for Mahanama..

  • on February 23, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    I think Kaluwitharana missed his due over here. He alongside Jayasuriya were vital in making a revolution to the limited overs cricket approach in the initial overs of field restrictions. I think Kallu deserves a nomination atleast!

  • ashishkumar36 on February 23, 2010, 5:50 GMT

    Jayasuriya and Atapattu for sure....an ideal combination for Srilanka to open the innings. We could consider Dilshan too but he has to spend more time span to prove himself as a good opening batsman.

  • Sampath_KCS on February 23, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    Good Pick by Sa'ddi, But how did you forget our current batting coach Chandika Haturusinghe..He was a regular opener in early nineties with Mahanama & was also a regular victim off Great Alan Donald. He was not a great in the likes of jayasuriyas but played the game with limitations in difficult times during pre-World Cup victory era.

  • arijitdasgupta on February 23, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    I think I will disagree with the nominations given above. With all respect to Dilshan, Jayasuria and Kaluwathirana have proved to be one of the most destructive openers in history against superior bowling attacks. The two of them had left the likes of Akram, Younis, Mcgrath, Warne, Donald and Kumble scratching their heads for answers.

  • Paki.Fan. on February 23, 2010, 4:41 GMT

    Jayasuria is a certainty. Attapatu is my other opener to give balance.

  • manasvi_lingam on February 23, 2010, 4:39 GMT

    Both statistically and in terms of impact, Dilshan and Jayasuria are by far the best openers. Even if one of them fires the middle order can just take a back seat and allow them to savage the bowling. Marvan Attapattu is also a good choice but he was far too inconsistent. Both Dilshan and Jayasuria are also multi-faceted cricketers which adds extra points - Dilshan can keep well and is a part-time bowler and Jayasuria is almost a batting all-rounder.

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  • manasvi_lingam on February 23, 2010, 4:39 GMT

    Both statistically and in terms of impact, Dilshan and Jayasuria are by far the best openers. Even if one of them fires the middle order can just take a back seat and allow them to savage the bowling. Marvan Attapattu is also a good choice but he was far too inconsistent. Both Dilshan and Jayasuria are also multi-faceted cricketers which adds extra points - Dilshan can keep well and is a part-time bowler and Jayasuria is almost a batting all-rounder.

  • Paki.Fan. on February 23, 2010, 4:41 GMT

    Jayasuria is a certainty. Attapatu is my other opener to give balance.

  • arijitdasgupta on February 23, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    I think I will disagree with the nominations given above. With all respect to Dilshan, Jayasuria and Kaluwathirana have proved to be one of the most destructive openers in history against superior bowling attacks. The two of them had left the likes of Akram, Younis, Mcgrath, Warne, Donald and Kumble scratching their heads for answers.

  • Sampath_KCS on February 23, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    Good Pick by Sa'ddi, But how did you forget our current batting coach Chandika Haturusinghe..He was a regular opener in early nineties with Mahanama & was also a regular victim off Great Alan Donald. He was not a great in the likes of jayasuriyas but played the game with limitations in difficult times during pre-World Cup victory era.

  • ashishkumar36 on February 23, 2010, 5:50 GMT

    Jayasuriya and Atapattu for sure....an ideal combination for Srilanka to open the innings. We could consider Dilshan too but he has to spend more time span to prove himself as a good opening batsman.

  • on February 23, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    I think Kaluwitharana missed his due over here. He alongside Jayasuriya were vital in making a revolution to the limited overs cricket approach in the initial overs of field restrictions. I think Kallu deserves a nomination atleast!

  • SLkrishan on February 23, 2010, 6:12 GMT

    Jayasuriya & Marvan will surely be the opening combination. If Dilshan performs like this for 2 more yrs then he'll replace Marvan. But I already voted for Mahanama..

  • on February 23, 2010, 6:57 GMT

    The lack of little Kalu make me very dissapointed,but agree this is a test team and these people are more suitable for the openning slot of a test side.Although Mahanama is a good contended my pick would be Sana-Atapattu combination.

  • on February 23, 2010, 7:19 GMT

    Gotta go with Sanath and Marvan, which is close to the perfect chalk-and-cheese partnership - you have the solidarity of Atapattu at one end and the destructiveness of Jayasuriya at the other. I think Dilshan is not yet at an all-tme-great level, but he can certainly reach there one day. The tragedy for Mahanama is also that he had to shuffle around the order quite a bit, and thus never really got the opportunity to cement his place at the top of the order.

  • straight6 on February 23, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    Jayasuriya and Atapattu would be the openers i would fancy opening the Sri Lankan batting. There is no match for Jayasuriya, he is definately one of a kind, but Atapattu's contribution pips him ahead of Dilshan especially in the longer version of the game. I believe Atapattu was a true Test match opener and had quality about him in his strokeplay. He seemed to play fast bowling very well and he always played good knocks against Pakistan and took on the likes of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis very well. Dilshan has for the last couple of years performed very well and has done so and probably will go on to do better things, but he doesn't have the kind of quality strokeplay i would like to see in Test match cricket. 20-20 cricket is for sure the culprit and Dilshan tends to play this form of cricket very well, and may he continue to do well, but he definately needs to cut out the 'Dilshan Scoup' It looks ugly and ICC should intervene and but a ban on this!!