SILVA third ‘ton’ maker at the house of Lord’s | Daily News

SILVA third ‘ton’ maker at the house of Lord’s

Amal Silva batting for Sri Lanka during his innings of 161 not out on the first day of the tour match between Warwickshire and Sri Lanka at Edgbaston, Birmingham, August 29, 1984
Amal Silva batting for Sri Lanka during his innings of 161 not out on the first day of the tour match between Warwickshire and Sri Lanka at Edgbaston, Birmingham, August 29, 1984

Left hand batsmen like left arm bowlers in cricket are very rare. They are born and not made. And when they do come, unlike right-handers, they are a treat to watch especially at peak performance.

But a left-hander who in addition to his batting that was stylish and eye catching was also a rare wicket keeper who excelled in both aspects, starting at school level and later crowning it by representing the country is AMAL SILVA who grew into our Legend.

Early Cambrian

SAMPATHWADUGE AMAL ROHITHA SILVA learnt his early trade at Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa before joining the Bambalapitiya school St. Peter’s College and motoring on the highway to stardom a few years after the country gained entry into the elusive club of Test status.

Luck plays a big part in sport like in life and SILVA had the fortune of winning his Test cap when regular wicket keeper Guy De Alwis suffered an injury and had to stay out. He won his Test cap and his crowning moment and one that he will not forget was when he joined a rare band of batsmen who have scored a hundred (102 not out) at the house of Lord’s in England.

He faced 255 deliveries and sticking it out in the middle for 320 minutes in the second innings the home of English cricket which country gave the wonderful game to the world.

Seam and swing

He faced the seam and swing of Ian Botham, Jonathan Agnew, Paul Allott and the off spin of Pat Pocock. He thus became the third Lankan to score a hundred at Lord’s, the first two being Sidath Wettimuny 190 and Captain Duleep Mendis 103 in the first innings.

Playing with and against the elite in world cricket was unjustly denied the country for long until Gamini Dissanayake came along as President of Sri Lanka Cricket to work the oracle. What Dissanayake did to bowl out the lords at Lord’s is well documented in history, needs no reiteration and like good wine needs no bush. On the subject of cricket and the revered name of Dissanayake cannot, but be mentioned.

Now to SILVA the dusky little left hand batsman and wicket keeper who was stylish with bat and the large gloves. He had it in him to negotiate the new ball with aplomb and play seam, swing or pace with ease and trouble the scorers which batting is all about.

Behind the stumps

Then behind the stumps he was safe rarely missing but grabbing the snicks and whipping off the bails when bowlers lured batsmen out of the crease. A good wicket keeper should have the ability to spot the weakness of a batsman, read how the wicket is playing and advice the captain and bowler accordingly. And SILVA had that ability in abundance.

He was undoubtedly an asset to a team and captain.

SILVA had the rare and good fortune of coming under the coaching of that great former Peterite Dr. H.I.K. Fernando Asia’s best glove man in the pre Test era during his formative years at the Bambalapitiya school after moving from the Moratuwa school. Fernando taught him the tricks of the trade and also taught him how to play a straight bat, that is so important not only in sport, but in the all important life as well.

That essential early grooming helped him to serve his school well in the game, helping them to many victories before branching out into the man’s world of club and Sri Lanka cricket.

Joining NCC

SILVA chose right in joining the Nondescripts Cricket Club and coming under the guidance and influence of another classic, NCC and country glove man in my former team mate at SBC and another Fernando in Ranjit. It was from there that he graduated and made the dream of every cricketer come true that of sporting the Sri Lankan cap.

SILVA who played in only just nine Tests scored his second ton against India in the Second Test at the SSC making the ‘nelson’ 111 and capping it all by grabbing nine catches and a stumping. In the First Test although not making a big score pocketed nine catches and then scoring a century. Having to wear the big gloves behind the stumps and then revert to smaller gloves in opening batting was too strenuous and his form dipped which forced the selectors to look at other options. SILVA later served Sri Lanka as a selector.

SILVA’S STATS – TESTS 9 – BATTING - Innings 16 – Runs 353 – Highest 111 – Hundreds 2 – Catches 33 – Stumpings- 1. ODIS – 30 – Innings 20 – Runs 441 – Highest – 85 – Catches 17 - Stumpings - 3. TEST DEBUT vs New Zealand at Wellington – March 11-15, 1983. Last Test vs England at Lord’s – Aug 25 – 30, 1988. ODI debut vs New Zealand Sara Stadium Nov 3,1984. Last ODI vs Pakistan at Lahore Oct. 25,1985.


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