Cricinfo / Standard Chartered special feature

Kaluwitharana and Jayasuriya - cricket revolutionaries



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The term pinch-hitting used to be associated with baseball - but when cricket picked up on the concept, the traditionalists, like the bowlers against whom the tactic was used, did not know what had hit them. Until Sri Lanka's shock World Cup triumph in 1996, the accepted wisdom in a one-day cricket match had been to start with caution and build up a steady head of steam in one's allotted fifty overs. But by the time Romesh Kaluwitharana and Sanath Jayasuriya had blown into town, that idea had been blown out of the water.

They were an unlikely pair of revolutionaries - Kalu, a pocket battleship of a wicketkeeper, and Jayasuriya, a hard-hitting, leg-spinning lefthander, who had yet to develop into the champion batsman that he has now become. Their international records were modest, but their desire to belt the leather off a cricket ball was unsurpassed.



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Together they set about tearing up the coaching manual, with their uniquely anarchic approach. Jayasuriya, with his penchant for uppercut sixes over backward point, was murderous on any width, while Kalu, with impish bat-speed and an executioner's eye, treated all deliveries with equal disdain.

Their alliances rarely lasted for long - against England in the quarter-final, Kalu was bowled by Richard Illingworth for a third-ball 8 - but the longer they were together, the greater the panic in the opposition ranks. And, as soon as they were parted, Sri Lanka's recognised batsmen would take over. And, with men of the stature of Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva to follow, the tactic rarely failed.