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Saturday, June 11, 2011

the recall of Sanath Jayasuriya and timing one's retirement

At 42 – people generally do not have a career in Cricket or for that matter in any sports.  In Sports and Politics as also in Cinema – quitting is an art.  Even top professionals have failed this art.  Gavaskar walked out in his prime form; Imran retired after a WC win – but there are many others who suffered ignominy of scratching around and getting dropped.  Clive Hubert Lloyd’s case deserves a special mention. 

Clive Hubert  Lloyd was very much the great leader personified – at 6'5" with stooped shoulders, a large moustache and thick glasses, he commanded respect not only from his team mates but from the opponents as well. 

Not many would know that he made his debut against India at Mumbai in 1966 making fifty in each innings.  In his first test at Home against England he made 118 and made another in the same series.   His first tour as Captain was again to India in 1974-75 – a series in which Gordon Greenidge and Vivian Richards made their debuts and WI won the thriller 3-2. 

He won the inaugural Prudential WC 1975.  He was the MOM in the finals against Australia making 102 off 85.  The tour that followed to Australia was disastrous as WI lost 1 – 5.  Hailed as the most successful captain, he was instrumental in the total dominance that WI had for 2 decades.  His time was the battery of pacers which included Boyce, Julien, Holder, Andy Robers, Michael Holding, Wayne Daniel, Joel Garner, Colin Croft, Malcolm Marshall, Courtney Walsh, Winston Davis and more.  That was time when windies pacers would barrage and intimidate batsmen often sending them bleeding off the field.   He won the second WC in 1979 also.   In 1984 he engineered a famous blackwash to England and a 3-1 win over Australia in 1984-85.

He had a remarkable run of  26 Tests without defeat, and 11 successive wins. He played in 110 tests scoring 7515 runs and in 87 ODI he made 1977 runs.  He lead Windies to victory in 36 tests and in 64 one dayers. 

If you thought, his career was a bed of roses – do read the concluding part.

The Lankans on a tour to England are to play a solitary T20 at Bristol on June 25 and 5 one dayers from June 28 to July 9. The tour will end with two one-day games against Ireland and Scotland. The visitors are plagued by injuries with Dilshan also on the list and the news of Tharanga's failed dope test – still a comeback at 42 was only speculated. Now he has been picked to replace Upul Tharanga and send the English bowlers to all parts of the ground again.

It is very hard to believe that he was a bowler who could also bat.  He used to bat at no. 8 for Lankans in the early days.  In his playing days he was a nightmare for bowlers and Captains and many bowlers sighed relief when he announced retirement from Test way back in 2007 – he last played ODI more than a year back, a match in India which was abandoned due to poor pitch conditions and he made 31.    In 1996 WC he forged deadly opening alliance with diminutive Romesh Kaluwitharana and at least two pacers turned spinners in the savage attack – Phil Defreitas and Manoj Prabhakar. 

Sanath Teran Jayasuriya born on 30th June 1969 is  now a Member of Parliament for the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance of  Mahinda Rajapaksa.  In his home town of Matara in the Southern province, he won with 74352 votes. 

At the Padang, Singapore on 2nd April 1996 he struck in to Pak bowlers.  Poor Aamil Sohail made the cardinal mistake of putting Lankans in and saw the ball flying out of the ground so often.  Jaya raced to a 32 ball 50 – worse was to follow as he completed his 100 of 42 balls – the fastest ever at that time.  He was eventually out at 134 [score was 196/2] off 65 balls with 11 hits to the boundary and 11 over it.  He hit 4 successive sixes of Sohail.  In Sharjah later he tore Chris Harris with a sequence of 666642.

In 110 tests he amassed 6973 runs with highest of 340 against India ; in 444 One dayers he made 13428 runs with 28 centuries besides 322 wickets, next only to the legendary Sachin in terms of ODI runs and appearances.   He was not part of the Lankan squad in the WC 2011 in which SL reached the Finals.  In IPL 3 he was part of Mumbai Indians squad. 

Though he has been selected, England can have solace that he has announced that he will retire from international cricket after Sri Lanka's first ODI against England on June 28, at The Oval.  Fans will ever remember him for the trademark cuts and savage pulls – sixes flying off his blade in the arc between extra cover and third man off the fastest of bowlers, his cavalier approach and his athleticism on the field. 

Lloyd was a great Captain, commanded a great team which had stalwarts like Fredericks, Greenidge, Haynes, Viv Richards, Richardson, Gomes, Deryck Murray, Dujon  besides the battery of pace bowlers.

But alas,  on 25th June 1983, his Team went down by 40 runs to Kapil’s devils chasing a paltry 183. 

In the otherwise victorious final tour to Australia, leading 3 tests, he played his last test at Sydney – Test no. 1006 30th Dec to 2nd Jan 1984-85.  Kepler Wessels who later played and captained South Africa made 173 taking Australia to 471/9.  In the first essay, WI were shot out for a paltry 163 with little known  leggie Bob Holland returning figures of 23-7-54-6; the second innings was marginally better with WI making 253 and Holland taking 4 wickets : 33-8-90-4. 

In a decade when Windies were dreaded, his last match was the second semi final of Benson & Hedges  World Championship of Cricket on 6th March 1985 against Pakistan.   The famed line up made 159 with the part time bowler Mudassar Nazar taking 5 for 28.  Pakistanis knocked off the required runs in 46 overs with Wasim Raja making a stylish 60.
Thus one of the greatest Captains tasted defeat in his last WC, last Test and One dayer !!

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

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