(Originally published on Lankancricket.com)
February 17th-21st in 1982 marked Sri Lankas first ever test. A game we sadly lost to the Englishmen, after fighting them, neck and tooth, for the first few days. All in all it was a good start to our test career as a country [video].
There have been many ups and downs in our short history in the game and currently Sri Lankan cricket is at its strongest. 106 players have pulled on our national colours and they have done a great service to our cricket in their own way.
I found this an opportune time to put my self in the shoes of the "Joker" and try some "Muppet Mastering" my self. My quest was to come up with the All time Sri Lankan Test XI. NO easy task but luckily I did have my trusty handbook, provided by SLC, to make my decisions easier.
SO without further adieu here is the team.
All Time Sri Lankan Test XI
3.Kumar Sanagakarra (+)
4.Aravinda de Silva
5.Mahela Jayawardane (C)
Marvi and Sana-
The third most successful opening pair in the HISTORY of the game, this was the easiest decision to make.One a dasher, the other,one of the most technically correct batsmen to come out of Sri Lanka. Also note the left and right hand combination.
The pretender to the throne of "The best batsmen Sri Lanka has produced", Sangakkara has been in blistering form of late and currently has the highest batting avg for any batsmen from the country. A shoe-in to the all time team.
Aravinda de Silva-
Who better to follow the pretender to the throne than the uncontested king of Sri Lankan batting, MR De Silva himself. He is a match winner on his own. 20 test centuries of the highest order. Its not hard being a "Joker" after all !
There were a couple of other contenders for the No 5 spot. Arjuna, Gurusingha being the main candidates. Mahela got my vote as he has shown he is arguably the best captain Sri Lanka has produced and is a terrific test batsmen. With a triple century to his name as well, MJ will bat at 5 and captain the team.
The current Sri Lankan team could well be wishing this man dint retire. He is a captains dream to bat at 6. Highly aggressive with lots of class Roshan is the ideal No6 batsmen for the All Time SL XI.
Vass is the most successful fast bowler the country has produced, so another shoe-in. With a test century to his name and with over 2000 test runs under his belt he is a genuine all-rounder.
Heres one from the vault. A genuine all-rounder in his own right,Ravi developed his game on the international stage that he even opened the batting for SL at a point. His BBI of 8-83 remained the best bowling figures by a Sri Lankan till a certain man from Kandy over took him. Avg 25 with the bat ant 35 with the ball he will be my first Change bowler.
This might be a surprise inclusion to a few but I strongly believe that he was one of the best quicks SL has had. Sadly his career has been marred by a lot of injuries, but was something else when in full flow. He could even be a replacement for Vass when he retires in a years time as he has not even reached 30. Swing/Pace/Bounce- Soyza has it all.
He has been a sensation ever since he joined the team. With his unorthodox action he has fooled many a batsmen. Malinga has genuine pace and swing when in full flow and is arguably the fastest bowler the country has produced. MJ will do well to use in him short spells to make maximum use of "Slinga"
I dont think his name needs any justification. The greatest bowler in the history of the game. Enough said.
This side is well balanced with 6 top class batsmen backed up by 2 very good all rounders. Although even Soyza can chip in with the odd run or two. Murali has a test 50 as well!
The bowling is safe in the hands of Vass, Ravi, Soyza, Malinga and Murali. Possibly the best bowling attack ever assembled from Sri Lanka.
It has a great blend of experience backed up by youth. Captained by Mahela this team would easily give a hiding to any team that confronts them
So that as they say is it. This is IMO the best ALL time Sri Lankan Test XI.
Do you agree? Let me know your views on the team in the comments section.