Jayasuriya contends fitness any which way possible | Sunday Observer

Jayasuriya contends fitness any which way possible

12 April, 2020
Jayasuriya still fit at 50
Jayasuriya still fit at 50

Former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya says that it is important for cricketers to maintain their training schedules while being at home due to the coronavirus pandemic while at the same time called on school cricket guardians to take stock of where the youth game is today.

“It is an unfortunate situation and we have to face this calamity with courage and determination. At the same time, cricketers cannot afford to skip or miss their training schedules.

“I am not asking them to go to gymnasiums. But while being at home, our cricketers could train to their schedules. That is very important because once we overcome this unfortunate situation, our cricketers should be in the same physical condition to face their future engagements,” the 50-year-old dashing former opening batsman said.

Jayasuriya, who is in the process of donating decontamination units to the Police department said the cricketers should also concentrate on the healthy food available. “You may not get just the food you want. But you must opt for the best available healthy food and regular fitness,” he said.

Jayasuriya who won the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year (Outstation) award in 1988, in a recent interview said the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) should make a joint effort to uplift the standard of local school cricket in the future.

“We had only 12 First X1 school matches during our time. However, we now see some schools playing over 20 inter-school matches in one season, including their third term matches. It is a tall order. Hence, scoring 1,000 runs in 20 to 24 matches is no big deal, compared to the 10 to 12 matches most schools had in the past,” he said.

The master blaster, who was adjudged the Most Valuable Player of the tournament in Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup victory beating Australia in the final, said the new Under-19 tournament structure of the SLSCA should be reviewed to focus more on producing quality cricketers to the national pool.

“Our focus at Under-19 level should be to produce competitive players for the youth pool and the Sri Lanka pool. We must also give an opportunity to some top school teams in the outstations to play against the leading Colombo schools. But at the same time, we must maintain the competitiveness and improvement of the standard of cricket dished out in those matches,” he said.

“But our biggest problem is the volume of cricket that is being played. There is too much of cricket. That’s not good. I think the SLSCA is working on streamlining these problems. They have a big responsibility and a leading role to play to improve Sri Lanka’s school cricket,” Jayasuriya added.

He said the standard of the country’s school cricket has not dropped but not improved as it ought to be. “I don’t think that the standard of the game has dropped. It has not improved from the level it was, compared to other teams in the world. It has stagnated, instead of going further up from the point we are at now. We must concentrate on that,” Jayasuriya warned.

“When we were playing school cricket, the school cricket structure and the standard was considered to be the best in the world, even India was far below us. But now, several countries have gone beyond us, showing a marked improvement. We need to change our strategies and restructure our tournament structure to meet the future challenges in cricket,” said the explosive opening batsman who had made an immense contribution to Sri Lanka cricket.

Going down memory lane with his early days as a schoolboy cricketer at St. Servatius College, Matara, Jayasuriya said winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title is every cricketer’s dream. “Winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year outstation title gave me fresh hope. I believed I would stand a chance of playing for Sri Lanka, if I continue to focus on the game with dedication and devotion. Definitely it was a big hurdle which inspired me to go places,” he said.

Jayasuriya paid a rich tribute to the Sunday Observer and Lake House for conducting the country’s first-ever school cricket awards show for almost four decades. He said every schoolboy who wins the prestigious Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award stands a good chance of representing the country, if they continue the game with devotion and dedication.

“If you win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award, you stand a huge chance of playing for Sri Lanka thereafter. It is not easy to win that award, mostly scoring over 1,000 runs or capturing over 100 wickets. It is no easy task,” Jayasuriya said.

“When you look at the star schoolboy cricketers who had won this prestigious award in the past, it is evident that most of them have ended up playing for the national team and underlined their supremacy in the international arena. Once you win the title, you only need dedication to find a place in the Sri Lanka team,” he pointed out.

“The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title is something unique and a cherished moment that any schoolboy cricketer could dream of,’’ said Jayasuriya, who has aggregated 13,430 runs including 28 centuries and 68 fifties and captured 323 wickets in 445 ODIs.

“It was the ultimate dream of all schoolboy cricketers during my time and even now. Everybody knows that this award would put you one step ahead and inspire you to do well when you step into club cricket from school level and to the national team thereafter,” he said.

The dashing opener, who took on the art of pinch hitting during the 1996 World Cup tournament, will celebrate his 51st birthday on June 30.

He underlined his supremacy as one of the best batsmen in world cricket and also proved his class in Test matches as well.

Apart from his grand triple of 13,430 runs, 323 wickets and 123 catches to become probably the best ODI all-rounder ever in world cricket, Jayasuriya had also been a classy batsman in the established game with a career best 340 against India.

He has aggregated 6,973 runs in 110 Tests, scoring 14 centuries and 31 half tons.