Picking Sri Lanka’s Best All-Time Test XI
The Island Nation has had its fair share of success in the longer format. Players such as Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitharan have been pivotal to Sri Lanka’s test XI in the past.
They are characterised by their spin-friendly nature and batting strength. Over the years, Sri Lanka have managed to make their home grounds such as the Galle International Stadium a fortress.
As a test match team, Sri Lanka are not as strong as in previous years in the current World Test Championship. However, players such as Dimuth Karunaratne and Suranga Lakmal have provided stability.
But, who makes it into Sri Lanka’s all-time greatest test XI?
1. Sanath Jayasuriya
Sanath Jayasuriya played 110 test matches for Sri Lanka and scored 6973 runs at a batting average of 40.07. He was a very aggressive opener, indicated by his strike rate of 65.27. He scored 14 centuries, including a massive 340 against India in 1997, to help Sri Lanka post 952-6.
Jayasuriya was also a useful bowler, picking up 98 wickets at a bowling average of 34.35.
2. Tillakaratne Dilshan
Tillakaratne Dilshan played 87 test matches and scored 5492 runs at a batting average of 40.99. Like Jayasuriya, he was also an aggressive opening batsman with a strike rate of 65.54. He scored 16 centuries for Sri Lanka, including a best score of 193 against England at Lords in 2011.
His part-time bowling allowed him to pick up 39 wickets at a bowling average of 43.85.
Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillikaratne Dilshan are the openers in “Sri Lanka’s all-time test XI.”
3. Kumar Sangakkara
The best batsman that perhaps Sri Lanka has ever produced. A batting average of 57 puts him in the bracket of the very finest players of all-time. To add to that he was a competent wicket-keeper as well. 12400 runs in 134 tests is an incredible feat. Kumar Sangakkara scored 38 centuries and converted 11 of those to double centuries.
An awesome player of both spin and pace, he had success in most countries that he played in. Based on the top 8 countries he played in, Sangakkara’s best averages were: 87 in Pakistan, 62 in the UAE, 60 each in Sri Lanka and Australia. He also averaged 41 in England. These are fantastic numbers.
4. Mahela Jayawardene
Mahela Jayawardene was known best as a touch player. He could caress the ball to all parts of the ground. He remains Sri Lanka’s most capped test player of all-time, having played 149 test matches for his country. In those games, Jayawerdene scored 11814 runs at a batting average of 49.85. He scored 34 centuries.
Perhaps the best player of spin in the Sri Lankan test team.
5. Aravinda De Silva
Aravinda De Silva is thought by many Sri Lankans to be their country’s best ever batsman, despite his statistics being a lot lower than either of Kumar Sangakkara or Mahela Jayawardene. In fact, the pair of them agree that Aravinda is the best.
He was equally good versus both spin and pace and averaged 43 in test match cricket. His strike rate of 57 is also healthy for a middle-order batsman. He scored 20 test centuries and 22 half-centuries, meaning that he had a good conversion rate.
Aravinda De Silva scored at least one test century in Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
6. Thilan Samaraweera
The forgotten man of Sri Lankan Cricket. Samaraweera played 81 test matches for his country, scoring 5462 runs at a superb batting average of 48.77. He scored 14 centuries and 30 half-centuries.
More so, Samaraweera averaged close to 40 in every country that he played in apart from Australia, England and India.
Sangakkara, Jayawardene, De Silva and Ranatunga are the middle-order batsmen in “Sri Lanka’s all-time test XI.”
7. Angleo Mathews
One of the most underrated cricketers in the modern era. Angelo Mathews has been the glue for Sri Lanka in the past decade. Post the Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawerdene era, he has been the most consistent batsman in the team.
He has scored 5981 runs at a batting average of 45.31. This includes 10 centuries and 35 half-centuries. Mathews has scored at least one century in: England, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, UAE and Zimbabwe.
It was his 160 at Headingley in 2014 that helped Sri Lanka to a historic 1-0 test series win in England. His bowling has been effective, without being threatening – 33 wickets in his career.
Angleo Mathews is the all-rounder in “Sri Lanka’s all-time test XI.”
8. Chaminda Vaas
Unarguably the best fast bowler in Sri Lanka’s history. Chaminda Vaas was a very smart bowler who adapted really well to pitches at home that had little help for his style of bowling.
He played 111 test matches for Sri Lanka and picked up 355 wickets at a bowling average of 29.58. He averaged below 30 with the ball in New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies and Zimbabwe. The main support bowler for Muttiah Muralitharan.
Also a handy batsman to have at number 8, averaging 24.32 with the bat. He scored one century and 13 half-centuries.
9. Rangana Herath
The chef or the smiling assassin as they call him. Rangana Herath would probably have played many more test matches if it weren’t for the dominance of Muttiah Muralitharan. Nevertheless, he was a fantastic left-arm spinner.
In 93 tests, he picked up 433 wickets for Sri Lanka at a bowling average of 28.08. He averaged below 30 with the ball in Sri Lanka, UAE, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.
10. Lasith Malinga
Just edges ahead of Suranga Lakmal in this test team. Lasith Malinga never played as much test cricket as he should have.
In 30 tests, he picked up 101 wickets at a bowling average of 33. He was excellent with the ball in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and a couple of fantastic tours to New Zealand.
11. Muttiah Muralitharan
Lastly, perhaps the greatest spin bowler of all-time.
Muttiah Muralitharan has been Sri Lanka’s best player of all-time. Of that there is no doubt. His 800 test match wickets will probably never be broken. He picked up an incredible 67 five-wicket hauls and 22 ten-wicket hauls.
More so, apart from India and Australia, Muralitharan averaged below 28 in every country that he bowled in. His bowling was the main reason as to why Sri Lanka were competitive abroad and dominant at home.
Vaas, Herath, Malinga and Muralitharan are the bowlers in “Sri Lanka’s all-time test XI.”
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