14 Facts about Ajantha Mendis: The Mystery Man from Sri Lanka

14 Facts about Ajantha Mendis: The Mystery Man from Sri Lanka

Ajantha Mendis
Sri Lankan bowler Ajantha Mendis. (Photo by DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Ajanta Mendis is a classic case of a bowler’s rapid rise to the top and then drastically hitting the rock bottom. Batsmen describe Mendis as unusual and freaky. And, to be sensible, it was a valid way to depict a bowler who re-invented and re-introduced the ‘Mystery Spin’ to the cricketing world. His art was as lethal as it was when originally used by Jack Iverson and John Gleeson several decades ago. However, the modern day technology and slo-mo cameras de-mystified him art pretty quickly and the finger-flicking spinner was unable to adapt and modify his bowling style which took his career on a downward spiral.

1. Born on:              

Balapuwaduge Ajantha Winslow Mendis was born on 11 March 1985. The third child in a family of five with an elder brother and a sister, Mendis hails from a rural community in Moratuwa and was raised Catholic.

2. Education:

Ajanta Mendis did his basic education at St Anthony’s College at Kadalana in his village. He subsequently changed school and studies in Moratuwa Maha Vidyalaya in the year of 2000.

3. ‘Mr. Lucky Rogers’ proves lucky

Mendis’s talent was initially identified by the school coach named Mr. Lucky Rogers back in the year 1998 when he was just 13 years of age. He was initially a slow medium bowler with a variation of leg spin.

4. Age Group levels:

In the year 2000, Mendis represented the school under-15 cricket team ad captained the team. Mendis was adjudged the Best Bowler at the big matches twice in 2001 and 2002.

5. Joins Army services:

While playing for the Army under 23 Division 11 during 2003/2004, Sri Lanka Artillery Cricket Committee noticed his talents and was invited to enlist in the regular force of the Sri Lanka Army, this was particularly due to the low number of cricketers from Colombo schools joining the Army in the recent years. He enlisted, partly due to the reason that his father, the breadwinner for the family had died the week before due to a heart attack. Following basic training he played for the army team and saw active military service as a Gunner in the Sri Lanka Artillery a regiment of the Sri Lanka Army.

6. ODI debut:

Mendis made his ODI debut against the West Indies at Port of Spain in 2008 and took 3 for 39.

7. Test debut:

He played his first Test Match was against India at Colombo on 23 July 2008. He returned with match figures of 8–132, thereby became the first Sri Lankan bowler to get an eight-wicket haul on Test debut.Mendis eventually ended the series with 26 wickets at an ave.18.38. Thus, surpassing Sir Alec Bedser’s world record for most wickets by a bowler on his debut in a three-Test series.

8. The devastating spell:

During the 2008 Asia Cup final, Mendis, who was playing in just hi 8th ODI, bamboozled the Indian batting line-up with the figures of 6/13. This happens to be the best ODI figures by an bowler in an tournament final

9. The sweet returns:

Following the Asia Cup final, he has been promoted to the rank of Sergeant on 7 July 2008 and the next day commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.

10. ICC Emerging player of the match:

Mendis won the Emerging Player of the Year award at the LG ICC Awards ceremony held in Dubai in September 2008.

11. Survive a dreadful attack:

On 3 March 2009, the bus that carried the Sri Lankan cricketers to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, for the third day’s play of the second Test match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, was fired at by masked gunmen. Mendis was among seven Sri Lankan cricketers who were injured in the attack, which killed five policemen who guarded the bus.

12. Unique Record:

He is the only bowler to have taken six wickets in a Twenty20 International, and he has achieved the feat twice, claiming the world record figures of 6 wickets for 8 runs for Sri Lanka against Zimbabwe on 18 September 2012.

13. An honor to be proud of:

On 26 October 2012, Ajantha Mendis received the Sri Lankan order of Bantu, the highest civilian honor in Sri Lanka.

14. The prediction which came true:

Australian Test cricketer and Coach Peter Philpott actually predicted the rise of a bowler like Ajanta Mendis in a book he wrote in 1973. It was written as “…Eventually I see the Iverson method being best employed by an orthodox off-spinner. Instead of a basic Iverson attack with occasional orthodox off-spin, there is a great future for an accurate off-spinner who produces a difficult to detect leg spinner every now and then. I could visualize such a bowler causing great concern amongst batsmen, and young off-spinners might be well rewarded for experimentation in this field…”