By Srian Obeyesekere
His late entry to test cricket at age 31in a flurry of 50 wickets from seven matches and thirteen innings to scaling the Everest to becoming the fastest spinner in the format and the joint second fast of all bowlers, has indeed made Sri Lanka’s Prabath Jayasuriya the most talked of bowler in world cricket. Shattering the 72-year old world record of West Indian Alf Valentine to the fastest spinner 50 wickets has certainly spun the world glare the Sri Lankans way. So much do that Jayasuriya has straddled world cricket in the gleam of possibly becoming the ICC Player of the Month in a race along with two others slotted by the game’s keepers for the prestigious award.
A product from outer Colombo in Matale upcountry terrain who was discovered to the game only because he had played domestic cricket with the Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne who had faith in roping him in after two frontliners had not been really up to mark, Jayasuriya’s ascension has been phenomenal. Ever since his debut career best 12 for 177 in Sri Lanka’s routing of Australia at Galle on July 12, 2022 to the landmark of the fourth best match haul by a bowler on debut, records have become synonymous to the late bloomer. He was on to 5 test wickets in an innings six times literally in a flash, the last of which against Ireland in the second test at the same venue in a Player of the Series culminating 15-wicket take.
That the Southern coastal belt setting picturesque Galle International Cricket Stadium overlooked by the ancient Dutch Fortress steeped in a historical ambiance with the swirling sea not far off has been more or less rooted to the left-arm leg spinner’s wicket-taking milestones is significant. For, the track has proved to be the undoing of opposing teams for the bite it is known to generate progressively that Jayasuriya has exploited to the hilt. His 8-wicket grab in bowling Sri Lanka to a series levelling victory against Pakistan in 2022 waa another feature in that amazing gallop to overnight stardom.
Indeed, the 5ft 11 inches tall athletically built broad shouldered late discovery to the big stage does belie age by the remarkable athleticism he imbibes in a wicket taking act that has thrust the Lankan to the forefront of world cricket.
Other Jayasuriya trump cards:
- Sri Lankan bowler with best test debut figures of 12 wickets .
- Has taken two 10-wicket match hauls, the other being 10 against Ireland.
- Has zoomed to 13th top bowler in ICC bowler rankings.