Many made their mark in the world arena | Sunday Observer

Many made their mark in the world arena

Gurusinha won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in  1985
Gurusinha won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 1985

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year series has produced many Sri Lanka cricketers who made their mark in the international arena in a big way. Besides those legendary cricketers in world cricket, several past recipients of the prestigious award had played many other leading roles for the great game.

Heading that select group who had served the game in different capacities is the first-ever recipient of the coveted award in 1979 – former Royal, NCC and Sri Lanka captain Ranjan Madugalle who has been serving as the Chief ICC Match Referee. Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who had been adjudged the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year twice in 1980 and 1982 later served as the chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket.

Former Sri Lanka and Nalanda captain Roshan Mahanama, the winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1983 and 1984, too had the honour of serving world cricket as an ICC Match Referee. Another proud product of Nalanda and a key member of Sri Lanka’s 1996 World champion team Kumar Dharmasena serves as a member of the ICC’s elite panel of umpires.

The highest wicket-taker in world Test cricket, Muttiah Muralitharan – another proud product emerged through the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year series, had brief stints as a bowling coach of the Australian national team.

Several Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award winners, who have served Sri Lanka cricket in different capacities. The present Chairman of Selectors, Sanath Jayasuriya had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Outstation title when he was an emerging cricketer from St. Servetius College, Matara.

Former Ananda, SSC and Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu had served as the head coach of the Sri Lanka national team.

Joining that elite band of Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award winners to play another key role is former Nalanda captain and a member of Sri Lanka’s world cup winning team in 1996, Asanka Gurusinha. Probably the best one drop batsman produced by Sri Lanka, Gurusinha has been appointed cricket manager of the Sri Lanka national team.

Since retiring from international cricket, the reliable top order batsman migrated to Australia and has been residing in Melbourne since then. Gurusinha will begin his new role with Sri Lanka team’s form the forthcoming series against Bangladesh.

A professional in marketing since his arrival in Australia, Gurusinha was honoured with a Deshabandu National Award in 1996, for his role in the 1996 World Cup victory. Sri Lanka cricket authorities had a successful round of negotiations during Sri Lanka team’s recent tour of Australia to secure Gurusinha’s services.

He was invited by Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara and Sri Lanka Cricket President and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thilanga Sumathipala to serve Sri Lanka cricket.

“It is indeed welcome news that Gura will be coming on board with our vision. We are enhancing our resource team with professionals to achieve or national objective,” Sri Lanka cricket chief Sumathipala was quoted as saying about the prized catch.

The solid No. 3 batsman who had played many decisive roles for the Sri Lanka team in the past, is an Australian Level 3 certified cricket coach and has vast experience. He has also served as the Consultant Regional Cricket Coach for Cricket Australia. However, this will be the first time that Gura is taking up an assignment with the Sri Lanka national team.

Gurusinha’s international cricket career spanned for 11 years, representing the Sri Lanka national team in 41 Tests and 147 ODIs.

A specialist number three batsman who had played many match-winning innings, is best remembered for his role in Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup victory, with a rock-solid innings of 65 in the final played in Lahore on March 17, 1996.

He shared a match-winning 125-run partnership with centurion Aravinda de Silva in the final that romped Sri Lanka to a memorable seven-wicket win over the hot faviouries Australia.

Born on September 16, 1966, Gurusinha made his Test debut on November 7, 1985 against Pakistan in Karachi. The star left-handed batsman has aggregated 2,452 runs in 41 Tests with seven centuries and eight fifties and a career best innings of 143 in Melbourne in 1995-96 to average 38.92. He had also captured 20 Test wickets as a part-time bowler and has also kept wickets.

Gurusinha’s ODI debut was on November 3, 1985 against Pakistan in Hyderabad. During his 147-match ODI career, Gurusinha has scored 3,902 runs at an average of 28.27 with a career best 117 not out.

There are two centuries and 22 fifties to Gurusinha’s credit in ODIs.

A technically accomplished one down bat, Gurusinha had had many gutsy lone innings for Sri Lanka during his day. He scored an unbeaten half century when Sri Lanka team was shot out for 82 in Chandigarh in 1990-91.

Unfortunately, his distinguish ed international career came to a premature end after the World Cup triumph, refusing to return home while having a stint of club cricket in Melbourne.