June 28, 2014

Four Sri Lankan masters

From Mendis to Sangakkara, a look at a few iconic batsmen who shaped Sri Lanka's cricket
48

In 40 years of watching international cricket, one of the absolute highlights remains an innings I saw by the stocky Sri Lankan Duleep Mendis. It was played at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla ground in the first week of November 1975. Sri Lanka, who had not yet been awarded Test status, were touring India, and playing the North Zone in preparation for the unofficial "Tests" to follow.

Mendis' father was a cricket fan, and named his son after KS Duleepsinhji, nephew of the immortal Ranji. Duleep, who - like his uncle - played for Cambridge University, Sussex, and England, was an artist with the bat, using skill and timing to great effect. His Sri Lankan namesake, however, relied more on brute power. On this day at the Kotla he took apart an outstanding attack, which included India's new-ball pair, Madan Lal and Mohinder Amarnath, and the great slow-left-arm spinner Bishan Bedi. Also bowling for North Zone was Rajinder Goel, a left-armer almost in the Bedi league, who would have played many Tests himself had his career not overlapped with the sardar's.

North Zone batted first, and scored 299. Sri Lanka lost some early wickets, but then Mendis restored his side's self-respect. He scored a brilliant hundred, cutting and pulling, driving and sweeping. It was a blistering exhibition of batsmanship. Some of the strokes he played that day remained imprinted on my memory; among them a lofted cover drive off Bedi that traced an arc against the sky before running over the boundary for four.

Sri Lanka were granted official Test status in 1982. Two years later, they played their first Test in England. I followed the match on the radio, listening as Mendis displayed his wares at the Home of Cricket. A sparse Lord's crowd watched him tear into the England attack, making a meal in particular of Ian Botham. If memory serves, he reached his hundred with a four and a six, both hit off Botham. (The allrounder's figures, which I have just checked, were 29-6-114-1.) Botham got his revenge the second time around. Mendis had reached 94, with nine fours and three sixes, when he attempted to repeat his first-innings feat, and was caught in the deep off Botham.

There were fine Sri Lankan batsmen before Mendis. They included FC De Saram of the 1930s, M Sathasivam of the 1940s, Gamini Goonesena of the 1950s, and Michael Tissera of the 1960s. However, these distinguished precursors were not lucky enough to play Test cricket themselves. Mendis himself was already 30 years old when Sri Lanka were granted Test status. Those who go by statistics may reckon his record to be modest - his Test average is 31.64 - but as the first Sri Lankan to confront and tame high-class bowling attacks he set an inspiring example.

For me, Mendis will always remain special, for the century I watched at the Kotla in 1975 and for the two knocks at Lord's I heard on the radio nine years later. For those too young to have seen him in the flesh, there are some decent clips on YouTube, including this one from a Kandy Test against Australia, where you can see Mendis cutting and pulling Dennis Lillee, one of the greatest fast bowlers who ever drew breath.

Both are world-class players: Mahela, silky and elegant, cutting and cover-driving; Kumar, brisk and efficient, working the ball off his legs and slashing it past point

Making his debut in the Lord's Test where Mendis savaged Botham was a young man named Aravinda de Silva. In build he was not unlike his senior. He lacked Mendis' raw power but had a wider range of strokes. His footwork was superb; reaching back into the crease to cut and pull the quicks, walking yards down the wicket to drive the spinners.

Aravinda played some fantastic innings in Test cricket. But he is best remembered, perhaps, for what he did in the semi-final and final of the 1996 World Cup. The first of these matches was played at the Eden Gardens. Sri Lanka made a disastrous start, losing their (previously prolific) openers with one run on the board. Aravinda walked briskly in, and immediately took control. He attacked Javagal Srinath (who had taken those two early wickets), while his mastery of Anil Kumble was complete. A flurry of boundaries all around the wicket ensued.

Aravinda seemed set for a hundred, till, against the run of play, a fast googly from Kumble breached his defences. By then, with his 66 off 47 balls, with 14 fours, he had decisively shifted the balance towards his side. The lower middle order consolidated his achievement, so that Sri Lanka finally got to 251, a total India never remotely looked like getting.

In the final, Sri Lanka were very much the underdogs. The mighty Australians batted first, hoping to get 300-plus. They were restricted to 241 in part because Aravinda, bowling his rather harmless-looking offbreaks, took three wickets (Mark Taylor and Ricky Ponting among them). Even so, an attack led by Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne might have been expected to easily defend that total. And so it looked when the Sri Lankan openers once more fell early. Aravinda walked in at 23 for 2. This time, he started slowly, but once he got his feet moving the strokes began to flow. He scored a controlled hundred, in which he showed he could handle Shane Warne even better than he had Kumble. (Warne's figures were 10-0-58-0.)

Among Aravinda's gifted contemporaries were Sanath Jayasuriya and Arjuna Ranatunga. His (even more) gifted successors are Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Both are world-class players: Mahela, silky and elegant, cutting and cover-driving; Kumar, brisk and efficient, working the ball off his legs and slashing it past point. For the last decade (and more) they have held Sri Lanka's batting together. Mahela is also an excellent slip; Sanga, a high-quality wicketkeeper.

I heard about Mendis and Aravinda on the radio in 1984; now, for the most recent Lord's Test, I watched Mahela and Sanga on the telly. In the first innings, the Old Firm put on a century partnership, Mahela getting out at 55, but his friend and partner going on to score a chanceless 147. Sangakkara got a half-century in the second innings too; without him, Sri Lanka would never have saved the Test. Both batsmen also batted well in the second Test of the series, which, like the first, had a thrilling finish, Sri Lanka getting the last England wicket in the final over of the match.

Jayawardene appears to be an immensely likeable man. His mate is nice enough but really stands out for his intellect. Sangakkara is - and not just for a cricketer - unusually thoughtful, well-read and wise. These attributes are all present in the 2011 MCC Spirit of Cricket Lecture he gave at Lord's, where he ranged widely over history, sport and politics.

Halfway through his Lord's lecture, Sangakkara referred to the pogrom against Tamils in Colombo in 1983, remembering that his own, proudly non-sectarian family, gave refuge to 35 Tamil friends. Towards the end of the lecture, he returned to the theme of inter-faith and inter-community harmony. When he played cricket for Sri Lanka, said Sanga: "With me are all my people. I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity."

Sangakkara gave his Lord's lecture on July 4, 2011. On the last day of the same month I was in Colombo, speaking in memory of Neelan Tiruchelvam, a remarkable lawyer-scholar who lived (and died) for the cause of racial and religious tolerance. In the course of my talk I mentioned Sangakkara's MCC lecture, adding that no Indian cricketer, dead or alive, could have spoken with such intelligence or empathy. I was being utterly sincere - but perhaps I should have added that no English, Australian, West Indian, Pakistani or South African cricketer could have spoken like that either.

The next day I was at a dinner where Sangakkara was also present. We hardly got to speak, but when we did, he said that among the things he most enjoyed on tours of my country was the opportunity to drink Old Monk. This further endeared him to me. A great batsman, a superb wicketkeeper, a passionate and truthful public speaker, and a lover of good, strong rum too. What a cricketer, what a man.

This article first appeared in the Kolkata Telegraph

Historian and cricket writer Ramachandra Guha is the author of A Corner of A Foreign Field and Wickets in the East among other books

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rizwan1981 on June 29, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    Wonderful article Professor Guha.

    The first time I heard about Duleep was when I eavesdropped on old timers talking about the 184 he scored for St Thomas against my school Royal Even as a schoolboy Duleep was a dasher and did not alter his style even in Test Cricket.

    FC.De Seram considered Sathasivam as the best EVER But my all-time favourite is Aravinda.It was a privilege to watch him during his MAD MAX days- He once hooked Kapil Dev for a first ball six in a test match (Aravinda opened the innings with Duleep in the 2nd innings in Colombo in 1985).In another FC game played at the CCC grounds Aravinda hit the ball out of the park to the neighbouring SSC! He also hooked Imran Khan for consecutive sixes to register his maiden century in Pakistan The man was unstoppable and was a consummate hooker/puller.

  • Prabhash1985 on July 1, 2014, 11:09 GMT

    For me, surely, it's Aravinda. He was a treat to watch. But, Sanath deserves to be in this list. Except in one match when Sanath scored the fastest fifty, we won almost all the games. We had a belief that if Sana boy scores, we will surely win. So, by then, people used to say that we just have to watch till Sana's wicket. Of course Aravinda was there, but I think Sanath was the most beloved cricketer in our island. Somehow, I don't believe that you can compare the statistics across different times. Now the rules are supporting batsmen than bowlers, so I think averages should be higher. Somehow I don't see the greatness in international cricket during 1990s in today's game; forgive me for saying so, but that's my feeling, may be because one's childhood is so precious.

  • on July 1, 2014, 9:05 GMT

    Yes. Aravinda De Silva was the all time hero and best player forever for Sri Lanka.

  • Ashwin_Mysore on June 30, 2014, 15:03 GMT

    I read this article in the regional newspaper a couple of days ago also. As everyone else who followed SL cricket as a tiny kid......I was also perplexed by the omission of ROY DIAS.

    Some others worth mentioning are Rathnayakes, Wettimunys, Kuruppu the dasher, etc.

    Watching them in a DD telecast, hearing the AIR commentary on Short Wave with Suresh Sariyya and Susheell Doshi......nostalgic

    Thanks Guhaji for taking all of us to those days.

  • John_Geo on June 30, 2014, 9:57 GMT

    If the cricketing greatness (batting) is approached purely from quality point of view rather than quantity, Roy Dias has to be the finest batsman Sri Lanka has ever produced - period.

  • on June 30, 2014, 5:13 GMT

    Hats off to Ramachandra Guha, Be Indian, who brings in to light All Hidden mystery history of Cricket that had under Sri Lankan Tag.

  • on June 29, 2014, 22:21 GMT

    Jaya top SL ODI batsman Sanga finest SL test batsman & De silva the most gifted SL technition & world's finest player of pace alongwith Sachin

  • harshthakor on June 29, 2014, 10:15 GMT

    My all time favourite Sri Lankan batsmen is Aravinda De'Silva.He was almost as complete a batsmen as Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara.He had the flair and artistry of a musician combined with the technical skill of an architect and the temperament of a soldier.In any type of conditions or against any bowling attack he would come out on top when the chips were down.In full flow beautifully blend defence with agression and win games that appeared lost.Inzamama ul Haq may have statistically overshadowed Aravinda as a match-winner and in batting average or aggregate runs but but he was never as proficient against the great Australian bowling attack.

    Jayewardene and Sangakaara are statistically all-time greats but have benefited from playing in an era of easier pitches and weaker bowling attacks.No doubt they have contributed volumes to Sri Lankan cricket .

    In term of pure artistry Roy Dias was the king who posesed the divine grace of David Gower.Few batsmen radiated more pleasure.

  • on June 29, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    Aravinda was an underachiever, if you ask me. He averaged less than 43 with the bat when he was good enough to average in the late 40s or even 50. The guy was incredibly talented and had all the strokes in the book. He played some very fine knocks in his career but has a modest away record. Mahela, to be honest, has been a flat-track bully for most of his career. He never enjoyed much success outside of Asia and most of his runs were scored in SL. Sangakkara is simply a brilliant cricketer. He has played well in different conditions around the world and is undoubtedly SL's greatest batsman ever.

  • IndianInnerEdge on June 29, 2014, 1:57 GMT

    I guess lots of readers would remember Roy Dias, he of the flowing cover drive and silken leg glances, was an absolute treat to watch. Also remember De Silva hooking Kapil for 6 on the first ball of an innings. Mendis was awesome. What i donot agreet with is "On this day at the Kotla he took apart an outstanding attack, which included India's new-ball pair, Madan Lal and Mohinder Amarnath, and the great slow-left-arm spinner Bishan Bedi." outstanding - M Amarnath? sure-on a green pitch for one day in the middle of an english summer, was never the quickest of them and 'outstanding' is a tad too wide to describe his gentle off cutters....

  • rizwan1981 on June 29, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    Wonderful article Professor Guha.

    The first time I heard about Duleep was when I eavesdropped on old timers talking about the 184 he scored for St Thomas against my school Royal Even as a schoolboy Duleep was a dasher and did not alter his style even in Test Cricket.

    FC.De Seram considered Sathasivam as the best EVER But my all-time favourite is Aravinda.It was a privilege to watch him during his MAD MAX days- He once hooked Kapil Dev for a first ball six in a test match (Aravinda opened the innings with Duleep in the 2nd innings in Colombo in 1985).In another FC game played at the CCC grounds Aravinda hit the ball out of the park to the neighbouring SSC! He also hooked Imran Khan for consecutive sixes to register his maiden century in Pakistan The man was unstoppable and was a consummate hooker/puller.

  • Prabhash1985 on July 1, 2014, 11:09 GMT

    For me, surely, it's Aravinda. He was a treat to watch. But, Sanath deserves to be in this list. Except in one match when Sanath scored the fastest fifty, we won almost all the games. We had a belief that if Sana boy scores, we will surely win. So, by then, people used to say that we just have to watch till Sana's wicket. Of course Aravinda was there, but I think Sanath was the most beloved cricketer in our island. Somehow, I don't believe that you can compare the statistics across different times. Now the rules are supporting batsmen than bowlers, so I think averages should be higher. Somehow I don't see the greatness in international cricket during 1990s in today's game; forgive me for saying so, but that's my feeling, may be because one's childhood is so precious.

  • on July 1, 2014, 9:05 GMT

    Yes. Aravinda De Silva was the all time hero and best player forever for Sri Lanka.

  • Ashwin_Mysore on June 30, 2014, 15:03 GMT

    I read this article in the regional newspaper a couple of days ago also. As everyone else who followed SL cricket as a tiny kid......I was also perplexed by the omission of ROY DIAS.

    Some others worth mentioning are Rathnayakes, Wettimunys, Kuruppu the dasher, etc.

    Watching them in a DD telecast, hearing the AIR commentary on Short Wave with Suresh Sariyya and Susheell Doshi......nostalgic

    Thanks Guhaji for taking all of us to those days.

  • John_Geo on June 30, 2014, 9:57 GMT

    If the cricketing greatness (batting) is approached purely from quality point of view rather than quantity, Roy Dias has to be the finest batsman Sri Lanka has ever produced - period.

  • on June 30, 2014, 5:13 GMT

    Hats off to Ramachandra Guha, Be Indian, who brings in to light All Hidden mystery history of Cricket that had under Sri Lankan Tag.

  • on June 29, 2014, 22:21 GMT

    Jaya top SL ODI batsman Sanga finest SL test batsman & De silva the most gifted SL technition & world's finest player of pace alongwith Sachin

  • harshthakor on June 29, 2014, 10:15 GMT

    My all time favourite Sri Lankan batsmen is Aravinda De'Silva.He was almost as complete a batsmen as Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara.He had the flair and artistry of a musician combined with the technical skill of an architect and the temperament of a soldier.In any type of conditions or against any bowling attack he would come out on top when the chips were down.In full flow beautifully blend defence with agression and win games that appeared lost.Inzamama ul Haq may have statistically overshadowed Aravinda as a match-winner and in batting average or aggregate runs but but he was never as proficient against the great Australian bowling attack.

    Jayewardene and Sangakaara are statistically all-time greats but have benefited from playing in an era of easier pitches and weaker bowling attacks.No doubt they have contributed volumes to Sri Lankan cricket .

    In term of pure artistry Roy Dias was the king who posesed the divine grace of David Gower.Few batsmen radiated more pleasure.

  • on June 29, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    Aravinda was an underachiever, if you ask me. He averaged less than 43 with the bat when he was good enough to average in the late 40s or even 50. The guy was incredibly talented and had all the strokes in the book. He played some very fine knocks in his career but has a modest away record. Mahela, to be honest, has been a flat-track bully for most of his career. He never enjoyed much success outside of Asia and most of his runs were scored in SL. Sangakkara is simply a brilliant cricketer. He has played well in different conditions around the world and is undoubtedly SL's greatest batsman ever.

  • IndianInnerEdge on June 29, 2014, 1:57 GMT

    I guess lots of readers would remember Roy Dias, he of the flowing cover drive and silken leg glances, was an absolute treat to watch. Also remember De Silva hooking Kapil for 6 on the first ball of an innings. Mendis was awesome. What i donot agreet with is "On this day at the Kotla he took apart an outstanding attack, which included India's new-ball pair, Madan Lal and Mohinder Amarnath, and the great slow-left-arm spinner Bishan Bedi." outstanding - M Amarnath? sure-on a green pitch for one day in the middle of an english summer, was never the quickest of them and 'outstanding' is a tad too wide to describe his gentle off cutters....

  • on June 29, 2014, 1:39 GMT

    I watched the Chennai 82 match as a little kid. Duleep scored two 105 in the test (still a record). But it wasn't him I was impressed with. Roy Dias and Ranatunga were the batsmen who caught my attention. Dias looked a world class player and Tunga looked very talented. Dias after few years fizzled away and Tunga, like Mendis, started putting on weight.. what a loss to cricket. May be Mendis was a good batsman in early days, but when he started international test career, was never comfortable against good pace attack. When Arvinda arrived at the scene and started pulling those 1st ball sixes, I knew that the Lankans have found someone special. It was eventually fulfilled when he started curbing his pull shots, but he lost some of his flamboyant charm after that. Sanga remain as numero uno lankan batsman followed by arvinda and then Mahela, in my opinion... in line with performance weighted against quality of opposition.

  • on June 29, 2014, 1:35 GMT

    I love the Sri Lanka teams always and I'm a west indian. I can remember in the early 80s how duleep mendis and Roy dias used to cut, drive and pull holding, Marshall and garner . This was on radio commentary from the wsc triangle tournament in Australia. Funny thing these were the easiest names to pronounce though. Lol.

  • on June 29, 2014, 1:18 GMT

    Pretty awesome analysis of Sri Lankan cricket by an Indian. Some 'quieter' names are also noteworthy: the Wettimuny brothers, Sunil and Sidath, helped shaped up their alma mater, and, in the process inspired the likes of Arjuna Ranatunga, Ranjan Madugalle, Brendon Kuruppu etc, who are themselves test centurions.

  • on June 29, 2014, 0:19 GMT

    A remarkable article, some one very lucky to have witnessed all the four great mentioned. Still remember Mendis with a little belly, Arivinda hooking Imran for sixes the best. Mahela and Sangakara usually there are not many words to describe their elegance. The Gems coming out of the Pearl.

  • sisirajaya on June 28, 2014, 23:22 GMT

    Very well written full of facts, memories and appreciation of the cricketing talent from my old country. I have seen Duleep bat and he was one of my heroes together with the opener Warnapura. Thank you Ram.

  • rizwan1981 on June 28, 2014, 20:29 GMT

    There are 3 FIRST CLASS TEAMS in a 10 Meter radius in Maitland Place - SSC and CCC and NCC with the first two hosting Test Matches.

    There is also Bloomfield in a 1 KM radius - I doubt there are so many first class teams in such close proximity in any other country in the world.

    When I was a kid , I would head to the NCC and if Aravinda is out , would pop over next door to the SSC and if unhappy with the action , cross the road to CCC and check out the scores and on my way home stop at Bloomfield and needle Percy Abeysekera (in whose eyes Bandula Warnapura could do no wrong ) and share a piece of pine apple with the Sri Lanka's flag bearer .

    Even the great Shane Warne who was commentating at the Lord's test Match ( where Sangakkar got his name on the honours board) was quoting the many bon mots of PERCY

  • gujratwalla on June 28, 2014, 19:52 GMT

    Very nostaligic artticle this! de Silva was a delight to watch,Ranatunga, Jaisuryia,Mendis all great players.I was fortunate enough to watch them all.My favourite remains. de Silva primarly because nobody wanted to hear about the new Test nation considering them push overs.de Silva made them open their minds and notice that Sri Lanka deserved their Test status.Jayawardene and Sangakarra remain the master batsmen in terms of runs but their conterparts of the early Test years played against better,faster and more skillfull bowlers and on pitches decidely less perfect than tjose of today.I never remember de Silva backing away from a bouncer or taking his eye off the ball.I maintain that averages do not make a batsmen great it is courage to stand up against the fastest bowlers and attack them that is greatness.

  • RamShankarS on June 28, 2014, 18:28 GMT

    De Silva is one of all-time favorites along with Sachin and Dravid. His records don't indicate that, but the era he played in (when Sri Lanka were a new Test side) and mostly underdogs (before mid-90s), he was one who stood out; and on his day, he takes on any bowling attack of the late 80s and 90s (every team had a great set of bowlers then). The 1996 WC definitely changed the way SL cricket was looked upon.

  • on June 28, 2014, 17:49 GMT

    What a memory! All these guys were remarkable in world cricket were produced by schools and gone through hardships in club cricket and thorn of the board of control for cricket in Sri Lanka naturally. We should remember David Hyne, Roy Dias era in Sri Lanka cricket which paved the path to International arena together with T.B Kehelgamuwa, Ajith De silva immaculate bowler. Anura Ranasinghe the power hitter, Lalit Kaluperuma and Wettimuny brothers. Not forgetting of course little Kalu and Roshan Mahanama the gentleman, Pity that some of them are no more with us.

  • Udendra on June 28, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    when Aravinda walked out to the middle to bat, you always felt that assurance. Very few players emanate that feeling.

  • vatsap on June 28, 2014, 15:40 GMT

    De'Silva a batsman created by Gods. What a player. The best innings he played from memory was the hundred scored in England in the Muralitharan match, which was overshadowed by the Jayasurya's 213. He also played some splendid knocks in Australia 167 in the early 90's and in NZ around the same time. The English county championship knock for Kent against Lancashire in a losing knock was another massive knock.

  • Paul2005 on June 28, 2014, 15:36 GMT

    One more great Sri Lankan bat Michael Tissera

  • gladiatorgannicus on June 28, 2014, 14:35 GMT

    Sangakkara is among the few batsmen who is getting better and better with age. He is scoring more and more runs with every year passing by. Huge respect to him from an Indian fan.Among the best players in the world and a man who commands huge respect across all teams.

  • on June 28, 2014, 14:18 GMT

    Dear Lankalover. The Test you refer to was played at Madras in Sept. 1982. Mendis did indeed score a century in both innings (105 and 105). I had the pleasure of witnessing the match from the press box. However, Mendis was not the captain in that Test, the captain was Bandula Warnapura.

  • Paul2005 on June 28, 2014, 13:53 GMT

    Two more great Srilankan batsmen of yester years - Anura Tennekoon and David Heyn. If my memory serves me right, Tennekoon was the first Sri Lankan batsmen to score centuries against all then test playing sides .

  • Sinhabahu on June 28, 2014, 12:57 GMT

    A truly beautiful read! Nice to see Mahadevan Sathasivam's name mentioned here too. It was sad that he passed away without ever having seen Sri Lanka achieve Test status. His legend still lives in our cricketing community, where old timers regale his exploits with awe.

  • Herath-UK on June 28, 2014, 12:44 GMT

    Well wrote & said Ram raising the emotions pretty well. We've been a lucky generation to enjoy probably the best of the best from Sri Lanka & India.

  • LANKALOVER on June 28, 2014, 12:36 GMT

    My list would be Satha (have only heard and read about him), Aravinda, Sanath, Duleep, Roy Diaz, Sanga, Mahela, Arjuna, etc.

    In bowling: Murali, Vaas, Ravi & Rumesh, Asantha, Rangana, etc. Oh, what a line-up!!!

    Lanka Lover/VSK Iyer INDIA

  • LANKALOVER on June 28, 2014, 12:21 GMT

    Guha, by oversight, has forgotten to mention about Mendis' "century in each innings" against the Indians in Madras - a World Record by a captain even today. This set the tone for all the World Records the Lankan Lions have created in a short span of time - BOTH in batting and bowling.

    Also, all the Lankan Legends mentioned in this discussion are far far better when compared with the Indians. The Indian batsmen, barring a few/couple, fall well short in enterprise, attack, natural striking, etc., etc. before the Lankan legends. In short, all the Lankan Lions are naturally gifted and unorthodox in their attacking ways.

    Lankan Lions, may their tribe increase.

    Lanka Lover/VSK Iyer Chennai - INDIA

  • bladder on June 28, 2014, 12:18 GMT

    Both Sri Lanka innings against England are available on the net. Sri Lanka (bat), v England, Lord's 1984. Saved these and uploaded, rated Roy Dias highly, languid and elegant batsman. Duleep Mendis so destructive regardless of length.

  • on June 28, 2014, 12:10 GMT

    Roy Dias was a remarkable shot maker. I think he must definitely in this list. He was a treat to watch. Mendis, Madugalle, Dias, De Silva, Ranatunga, Kuruppu, Hemantha Devapriya, and many more. All had there own class. Treat to watch. We lost many but most importantly we learned quickly. Within a short span of time we have traveled so far in Cricket. Treat to watch. Love u Sri Lanka!!!!.

  • shockValue on June 28, 2014, 12:06 GMT

    Enjoyed the trip down memory line. Lovely article.

  • on June 28, 2014, 11:45 GMT

    @Sriniva Rao, I have a different list from you.

    Sathasivam, Aravinda De Silva, Sangakkara, Roy Dias, Jayasuriya and then Mahela.

    I never had the pleasure of seeing Satha bat, but a former "great" called him the best thing since sliced bread:)

  • banda2014 on June 28, 2014, 11:36 GMT

    Tx. A Great article to read. We all love your cricketers as well. But the problam is they are too much aggressive. Just see none of sril lankan greats are not like that.

    You should add Arjuna to the list. Because he is the person who balanced the talents in to match winning spirits.

  • Paul2005 on June 28, 2014, 11:24 GMT

    Thanks Mr Guha. The sublime artistry of Roy Dias is not mentioned in an otherwise fine article. Surely Dias deserves a place in the pantheon of Sri Lankan greats.

  • CricketFever11 on June 28, 2014, 10:36 GMT

    @amilag: Well said mate. Respect the real Indians.

  • on June 28, 2014, 10:26 GMT

    Sanga aravinda mahela mendis jaysurya in that order are the finest batsmen to have played for srilanka. Likewise for India Sachin Dravid sunny sehwag vvs vishy in the order mentioned are the finest to have played for India. Anybody has a different hierarchy?

  • kiritha on June 28, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    Please add Arjuna, finest captain who made to believe Sri Lankans can win and won the world cup

  • on June 28, 2014, 9:08 GMT

    well said from a real Indian! hopefully Indian script writers will learn from this how to respect others! Thanks Mr.Guha. Sangakkara is an exception, a god's gift just like Sachin to this wonderful game.

  • on June 28, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    Big salute to you from SriLanka Mr.Ramachandra. what a awesome article.

  • amilag on June 28, 2014, 8:25 GMT

    This article helps me to change my attitude against Indians. This is one of the great article by non sri lankan about sri lankan batsman. You are true gentlemen and a person who give credit for the people who deserve it. Well done sir! Hat off to Mr.Ramachandra Guha!

  • on June 28, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    amazing article Mr.Guha... astoundingly brilliant.... i have had the pleasure to watch 3 of them at thier best... its only mr mendis who i have missed.... so aptly said by you.... only sanga could have delivered a lecture so profound.... cheers from a fan who enjoys his old monk

  • on June 28, 2014, 7:47 GMT

    Excellent article, as usual by Mr.Guha. Time the Bangladeshi team learnt from the Lankans. About 10 years after they started playing international cricket, Sril Lanka won the World Cup!!! It is something remarkable. Even England, where cricket was invented, has never won it!!! There is a lesson to be learnt from it for BD, which has been struggling since its entry into the international arena. May be time for an entire team of Sri Lankan coaches in BD.

  • on June 28, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    One of the best articles I have ever read on Sri Lankan batsmen by a non-Sri Lankan. Hats off to Ramachandra!

  • CricketFirst on June 28, 2014, 5:45 GMT

    A superb article.From past to present Sri Lanka has produced world class cricketers though some of them were unfortunate to not play or play a little of Test Cricket. Thank you Mr. Guha for admiring Sri Lanka's contribution to the world of cricket specially the past cricketers whom most cricket fans never seen. Liked the Youtube clip of Mendis coz I haven't seen him batting.

  • on June 28, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    Wonderful piece of article, remnants of the bygone era as well. While reading the article, the images from 1996 WCup when I was in my 7th standard just flashed back again.

  • on June 28, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    It is simply great.This is a real relfection from one of the real Indians representing the great Indian civilization.If my memory serves me correct Ceylon played domestic matches in Ranjit trophy and other tournaments. India's contribution to the development of cricket in Srilanka was huge.Thanks Mr.Guha.

  • soumik on June 28, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    A great piece of writing and especially the Sanga portion. I totally agree with the observation that no current cricketer or for that matter any cricketer who played cricket in last 10 years could have spoken like Sanga did in the MCC spirit of cricket lecture. A true sportsman, a true gentleman. Respect for Sanga from an Indian fan.

  • soumik on June 28, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    A great piece of writing and especially the Sanga portion. I totally agree with the observation that no current cricketer or for that matter any cricketer who played cricket in last 10 years could have spoken like Sanga did in the MCC spirit of cricket lecture. A true sportsman, a true gentleman. Respect for Sanga from an Indian fan.

  • on June 28, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    It is simply great.This is a real relfection from one of the real Indians representing the great Indian civilization.If my memory serves me correct Ceylon played domestic matches in Ranjit trophy and other tournaments. India's contribution to the development of cricket in Srilanka was huge.Thanks Mr.Guha.

  • on June 28, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    Wonderful piece of article, remnants of the bygone era as well. While reading the article, the images from 1996 WCup when I was in my 7th standard just flashed back again.

  • CricketFirst on June 28, 2014, 5:45 GMT

    A superb article.From past to present Sri Lanka has produced world class cricketers though some of them were unfortunate to not play or play a little of Test Cricket. Thank you Mr. Guha for admiring Sri Lanka's contribution to the world of cricket specially the past cricketers whom most cricket fans never seen. Liked the Youtube clip of Mendis coz I haven't seen him batting.

  • on June 28, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    One of the best articles I have ever read on Sri Lankan batsmen by a non-Sri Lankan. Hats off to Ramachandra!

  • on June 28, 2014, 7:47 GMT

    Excellent article, as usual by Mr.Guha. Time the Bangladeshi team learnt from the Lankans. About 10 years after they started playing international cricket, Sril Lanka won the World Cup!!! It is something remarkable. Even England, where cricket was invented, has never won it!!! There is a lesson to be learnt from it for BD, which has been struggling since its entry into the international arena. May be time for an entire team of Sri Lankan coaches in BD.

  • on June 28, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    amazing article Mr.Guha... astoundingly brilliant.... i have had the pleasure to watch 3 of them at thier best... its only mr mendis who i have missed.... so aptly said by you.... only sanga could have delivered a lecture so profound.... cheers from a fan who enjoys his old monk

  • amilag on June 28, 2014, 8:25 GMT

    This article helps me to change my attitude against Indians. This is one of the great article by non sri lankan about sri lankan batsman. You are true gentlemen and a person who give credit for the people who deserve it. Well done sir! Hat off to Mr.Ramachandra Guha!

  • on June 28, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    Big salute to you from SriLanka Mr.Ramachandra. what a awesome article.

  • on June 28, 2014, 9:08 GMT

    well said from a real Indian! hopefully Indian script writers will learn from this how to respect others! Thanks Mr.Guha. Sangakkara is an exception, a god's gift just like Sachin to this wonderful game.