Aravinda de Silva set to make his mark once again (11 May 1999)

11 May 1999

Aravinda de Silva set to make his mark once again

Ivan Corea

Aravinda de Silva flew in to London with a smile on his face, he has good reason to smile. De Silva who was Sri Lanka's number one 'bachelor boy' threw it all away and married the lovely Sarita in a ceremony in Colombo. He is one of the world's finest strokeplayers and has dispatched the ball to every corner of the field against all the test playing nations. Small wonder that Wisden had placed Aravinda as the World's number One bat.

Born Pinnaduwage Aravinda de Silva in Colombo on October 17, 1965, he is a right hand bat and bowls right arm off break. De Silva made his first Test debut in Sri Lanka vs. England at Lord's one off Test in 1984. His one day international debut was against New Zealand in 1983/1984.

De Silva has thrashed the bowling attack on so many occasions, he has contributed to an exciting brand of cricket produced by the Sri Lankan team and was instrumental in spearheading the island's superb win against Australia in the finals of the Wills World Cup in 1996. He stroked a magnificent 107 not out in the finals in Lahore joining the centurion's club alongside the greats like Viv Richards.

The lasting image of the 1996 World Cup finals is De Silva and Ranatunga hugging each other, they had done it - after all the years of toil and hard graft. The 'minnows' were now 'giant killers.' They caused an upset in Lahore, thanks to Aravinda de Silva's match winning innings and his three scalps when he bowled. It was a great all-round effort.

This 'pocket battleship' as he is known recently joined the 8,000 club - to date he has scored 8020 runs in 254 one day matches. His highest score is 145 runs. De Silva has also grabbed 83 wickets in one day internationals. As far as his test record is concerned he has scored 5320 runs in 76 matches with a highest score of 267 runs. He has also taken 26 test wickets to date.

Aravinda de Silva joined the select band of batsmen to score 8,000 runs - only former West Indian opener Desmond Haynes and Indian captain Mohamed Azharuddin have had the honour of accumulating so many runs before De Silva. This is a magnificent achievement for Sri Lanka's best batsman. He has carved a niche for himself in the world of cricket and will dominate the World Cup of 1999 if he is in form.

He is a pleasure to watch, a wristy player who smashes the ball all over the field when he gets going - there are no half measures with Aravinda de Silva. He was adjudged the 'Man of the Match' in the finals and semi-finals of the Wills World Cup in 1996. He accumulated 448 runs in the last World Cup. He also whacked 145 runs off 145 balls which included five sixes against Kenya.

No one will forget De Silva's marvellous innings for Kent in the Benson and Hedges Cup final at Lords against Lancashire. Writing in Sri Lanka Today Magazine, the British Prime Minister at the time, the Rt. Hon. John Major noted: 'Anyone who had the pleasure of watching Aravinda de Silva score his elegant century in the B and H final can be in no doubt that his is a very special talent. He played a major part in Sri Lanka's World Cup triumph. With players of his ability the future looks bright for Sri Lankan cricket,' added the Prime Minister. It was a fitting tribute for a very special cricketer. In that season he was the first batsman in the tournament to score 1000 runs. He lit up Lords with a century so spell binding that people still talk about his magnificent, punchy innings.

De Silva participated in the Princess Diana memorial match at Lords in 1998 and he scored 82 runs on that occasion. Off the field he travelled to Buckhurst Hill with Sanath Jayasuriya to take part in the first ever Sri Lanka Day in Buckhurst Hill and hundreds of Britons and Sri Lankans turned up to see the World's number one in Essex. De Silva related his triumph to the Rev. Alan Comfort who was a former star footballer playing for Queens Rangers and Leyton Orient Football Club. The Channa -Upuli Dance Ensemble entertained the guests at this fund raising event.

Aravinda de Silva always reserves the best for last and he will no doubt be in action in this year's World Cup. He is unassuming and polite, although 'Ara' is known for his love for fast cars, De Silva has also given part of his wealth to good causes - on his birthday in 1998 he gifted a cricket pitch to the school for the blind.

Aravinda thrives in English conditions - last year he played a pivotal role in the one-off test at the Oval contributing to Sri Lanka's first ever test win on English soil. Together with Sanath Jayasuriya, De Silva shone at the Oval with an innings of class.

The late Gamini Dissanayake who was President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka was an inspiration to De Silva who started playing serious club cricket at the age of 15. He has brought glory to his country on countless occasions.

"We are all very confident' added Aravinda who has been practising hard in the run up to the World Cup up in Leicester in the grounds of Sarath Abeysundera, a Sri Lankan business tycoon who is also a member of the BCCSL UK Representative Committee. He will make his mark and he is surely one to watch in the 1999 World Cup - from the very start of their defence of the title on the 14th of May against Alec Stewart and his men.

Sri Lanka has been dismissed as the 'underdogs' who have no hope of lifting the World Cup once again. However Arjuna Ranatunga and the team think otherwise. I have been with the team and I know they are in a positive frame of mind. Forget the hype of the media and Alec Stewart's unkind words - Aravinda de Silva and his team mates are raring to go - they will give their best - they owe it to their motherland.

Source :: The Daily News (http://www.lanka.net/lakehouse/)