Sunday, November 04, 2007

Roy Dias, you legend

Over at History of Cricket, Stuart's wonderfully erudite cricket blog, you can find a very good profile of Roy Dias, Sri Lanka's ace batsman from the 1980s, and one of those that led his country into serious international cricket. In that very well-written profile, you will find mention of an innings of 97 played by Dias in Sri Lanka's first test against India at Chepauk in 1982. I will always remember that test, because it was the first time I saw Sri Lanka's amazing batsmen in full-flight. I don't think I'd ever seen anyone hit the ball as hard as Duleep Mendis did - and yes, I'd seen Viv Richards and Ian Botham by then; I'd also seen Collis King in the 1979 World Cup Final. I was down with some sort of viral fever, and had to stay at home and miss school and watch test cricket instead (yeah, what a drag). The weather in Delhi was crisp and cool, and I watched the test all day for all five days. On the fourth day, Sri Lanka came out to bat, facing a first-innings lead of 220 (their 346 had been rapidly overtaken by India's 566). The first wicket fell with six runs on the board. Dias walked in and launched an astonishing counterattack. The best way to describe this innings is to mention one simple statistic, which I've never forgotten, and never will: when his score reached 61, Dias had hit fifteen boundaries. I've never seen that percentage approached by any batsman in any class of cricket for a score of over fifty since. When Dias was out - almost sparking tears in me - at 97, the score was 157. The next day Sri Lanka managed to throw a few shivers into the Indian team before Sunny came out and guided India to safety. Years later, when I would see Aravinda, Jaya and all of the rest receive hosannas for their batting, I would always think back to that feverish - in more days than one - day in September 1982. Thanks Roy.


Blogger Soulberry said...

Duleep Mendis is also a forgotten name among the Ranatungas and others. I thought he was the forerunner to the Arjunaesque captain Sri Lanka had later on for a long and successful period. Then he loved to murder the Indian attack and even blitzed a century in each innings, if I am not mistaken. Unfortunately, I think that was an unofficial test match. My memory is hazy here.

I remember that Roy Dias innings. He was very Caribbean in his approach to cricket.

6:24 PM  

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