13 Facts about Marvan Atapattu – A sound batsman and a strong skipper

Marvan Atapattu
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Marvan Atapattu, the former Sri Lankan skipper, was a technically sound opener and an elegant batsman to watch. He started his international career when the island nation’s glorious era of the nineties was about to begin. Atapattu’s signature shot was his high-elbow cover-drive which he executed in a class manner. He was also a skilful fielder and possessed an accurate throw.

In 2005 he held the record for affecting the second highest number of run-outs in ODI cricket, with the seventh highest success rate that since the 1999 Cricket World Cup. He was also a successful captain for Sri Lanka in Tests as well as ODI cricket. He has 22 Test-match career ducks and 4 pairs, both records for a top-order batsman. Although he struggled initially in international cricket, he went on to become one of Sri Lanka’s most important and reliable batsmen.

1. Birth:

Marvan Atapattu was born on 22nd November 1970 in Kalutara, Sri Lanka.

2. Early impressions:

Marvan Atapattu started his cricket career as a teenager at Mahinda College in Galle however later moved over to Ananda College in Colombo. Marvan Atapattu made his first-class debut in 1988-89 and his performances earned him a place in the national side that was to tour India in 1990.

3. An inauspicious start:

Marvan Atapattu got a pair on Test debut against India at Chandigarh in November 1990. He got dropped from the team and made an unsuccessful comeback after 21 months. With another duck and a 1 he was again out of the team. His first six innings yielded five ducks and a 1 and put serious doubts over his big-match temperament.

4. ODI debut:

Marvan Atapattu made his ODI debut on the tour to India and 8* at Nagpur; a match which the visitors lost by 19 runs. He was sent to bat at number 9 and Sri Lanka failed to chase a target of 245. He was in and out of the side before establishing himself as a regular member in the ODI side from 1996.

5. Test comeback:

In 1997 the classy right-hander made yet another comeback to the Test team after 2 previously failed attempts. Having worked on his game and put in a lot of hard work he scored heavily in first-class cricket and the Sri Lankan selectors gave him yet another opportunity at the Test level. He scored 25 and 22 runs in the 2 innings against New Zealand at Dunedin; a match which the home side won by an innings and 36 runs.

6. First Test hundred:

Marvan Atapattu made his First Test hundred against India at Mohali in November 1997. Opening the innings he scored a marvelous 108 with the help of 14 crisp boundaries. The knock helped his team post a total of 369 in this match which ended in a draw.

7. An ability to get big hundreds:

Marvan Atapattu scored six double-hundreds in an illustrious career; a feat bettered only by Sir Donald Bradman (12), Wally Hammond and Brian Lara (7 each). His highest Test score is 249 against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. Marvan Atapattu scored 11 ODI hundreds with a career best of 132* against England in the final of 1998 Emirates Triangular Tournament. His brilliant knock helped his team overhaul a target of 256 set by the home side at the Lord’s.

Also Read – Top 10 batsmen with most 200s in Test cricket

8. Captaincy:

Marvan Atapattu was appointed as the captain of Sri Lanka’s ODI team in 2003. In early 2004 the team was having a rough time and he was named as the captain of the Test side as well. Atapattu made an immediate impact by bringing the Lankans back on track. In the same year he led them to an Asia Cup win and a series whitewash over South Africa. He led his country in 18 Test matches winning 8 and losing 6 with 4 producing no result. The ODI team won 35 and lost 27 matches under his leadership. He was a straight-talking and positive captain, firm and fair in his dealings with the players and aggressive in his approach to the game which earned him enormous respect from players and fans alike.

9. Issues with the selectors:

After the then newly appointed chairman of selectors, Ashantha de Mel, launched a scathing attack on the team management on the eve of the Paktel Cup in 2004-05, Atapattu’s relationship with the selectors remained thorny. The chairman had accused the team management of blocking his attempts to blood new players. In 2007–08 tour of Australia, Atapattu played solidly in the first Test, but subsequently angrily labeled the selectors “A set of muppets, basically, headed by a joker,” at a post-stumps press conference.

10. Cash-in-the-bedroom affair:

During England’s recent tour of Sri Lanka, 1.1 million rupees ($24,000) were discovered in a Kandy hotel room that had been occupied some days beforehand by Atapattu. The ICC investigated the matter and cleared Atapattu of any wrongdoing and it seems it was an attempt to blacken his reputation.

11. Retirement and ICL appearance:

Marvan Atapattu retired from international cricket after playing the Test series in Australia in 2007. He then joined the unofficial Indian Cricket League, playing for the Delhi Giants and ICL World XI. A ban on him and four other Sri Lankans was lifted in September 2008 setting him free to play domestic cricket back home. He did not play domestic cricket and ventured into cricket coaching.

12. Coaching:

In 2009, Marvan Atapattu had a coaching stint with the Fingara Cricket Academy in Sri Lanka. He had a short stint as Canada’s batting coach and helped them qualify for the 2011 World Cup. In 2010, Marvan Atapattu was appointed as head coach of the Singaporean cricket team for a one-year period, which was his first full-time assignment as the coach of a national side. In April 2011, after the World Cup, he was named as the batting coach of the Sri Lankan national side. Marvan Atapattu was promoted to the post of an assistant coach and in 2014, he was appointed as interim head coach of the team following Paul Farbrace’s unexpected exit. Sri Lanka won its first Test series in England in 16 years, with a 1–0 win in its 2014 tour post which he officially took over as head coach in September 2014 becoming the team’s first local coach in 15 years. After consecutive Test series defeats against Pakistan and India, he resigned in September 2015.

13. International statistics:

Marvan Atapattu played 90 Test matches scoring 5502 runs at an average of 39.02. His 268 ODIs produced 8529 runs at an average of 37.57. Marvan Atapattu played 2 T20Is as well scoring 5 runs from a solitary inning. With 14591 runs in first-class cricket and 10802 runs in List A cricket, Atapattu remains one of the best batsmen produced by the island nation.