World: Cricket has seen many moments where individual stars step up to change their destiny, their team’s destiny but you rarely see moments which make the paradigm shift in the course of the game.
On January 09, 1996 one such rare phenomenon unfolded in Melbourne, irony is it’s the same place where Emerson and some Aussies were trying to get under the skin of Sri Lankans a couple of weeks before.
It’s argued that New Zealand tried pinch hitting in 1992 WC but it’s Sri Lanka that made a strategy, and executed it precisely and played aggressive cricket decades before and changed the game forever.
Everyone said that Santh Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana were the Adam and Eve for the aggressive cricket. It’s like the breakthrough humanity got when Carl Lewis ran 100m within 10s.
Think about an era where batting coaches didn’t exist in the universe, no biomechanics were brought to the cricket field, and cricket gears were not as sophisticated as now (perhaps the biggest rumour was they had steal in it, will that count as sophistication?), no coaches for range hitting, more than anything not much data was available for picking the target bowler (you need to back your instincts to pick the ball and hit it); but they invented the mode of destruction to capitalise and succeeded.
They deserve to give credit to the think tank; Sri Lanka was not taken seriously by anyone, team didn’t have many facilities to train and experiment as now, you are swimming against the entire cricket world. If you have failed, they could have buried you yet you manage to give confidence to two youngsters who were not looking like proper batters on those days terms.
Perhaps one year from this exact date, all teams started hunting for their version of Sanath and Kalu, bowlers were forced to think of ways to stop the run flow!
These days one of the biggest criticisms cricket faces is it’s increasingly becoming a batter’s game; yes it’s the Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana, because the league’s famous batters these days have 120+ SR but Sanath and Kalu were touching 100+ frequently in the 90s.
There is a list of cricketers who got the chance to play in the international arenas because of this phenomenon; Ganguly, Shewag, Astle, Gilchrist, Afridi and the list goes on.
Modern cricket owes you big-time Sayanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana and Sri Lankan think tank for changing the way cricket is being played on this planet.