From small beginnings, Sri Lanka has developed its cricket impressively to become a perennial contender in one-day international World Cups and an important feature of world cricket. It holds records for the highest scores by an international team in every form of the game - Tests, ODIs and Twenty20s - and has produced some world-beating bowlers, most notably the incomparable Muttiah Muralitharan.
Particularly since 1995, Sri Lankan cricket has been characterised by innovation. For example, Muralitharan developed completely new methods of spin bowling, while all-out attack at the start of a one-day innings was an unfamiliar notion until Sri Lanka made it popular.
Behind the scenes, a series of government-appointed administrative committees have come in for repeated criticism by senior players and officials. If Sri Lanka is to become an even stronger force in world cricket, it will have to establish some stability in its national board.
World Cup Record:
Sri Lanka's national cricket team has played in every World Cup since 1975 and been a strong contender since winning the tournament in 1996. This was a remarkable and surprising achievement, given that they had finished second-to-last in 1992, although their passage through the tournament was assisted by Australia and the West Indies' boycotting of matches in Sri Lanka over security concerns.In addition to that 1996 victory, Sri Lanka have reached two more finals in 2007 and 2011 (lost to Australia and India respectively) and qualified the semi-finals in 2003.
- Muttiah Muralitharan: In all of international cricket history, no bowler has gotten more batsmen out than Muralitharan, affectionately known as Murali. Because of an elbow deformity, he bowled with a bent arm at the very limit of the rules, and was therefore often a source of controversy as a result. Regardless, his record is remarkable: 1334 international wickets for Sri Lanka, including 800 in Tests. These numbers might never be beaten.
- Sanath Jayasuriya: At one point he held the records for the fastest 50, 100 and 150 in ODI cricket. That might give you an idea of how destructive he could be. Jayasuriya was a regular in the Sri Lankan lineup for nearly 20 years and in addition to his belligerence at the top of the batting order, his darting left-arm off spin brought him over 300 ODI wickets. Jayasuriya is now an MP in Sri Lanka Parliament.
- Mahela Jayawardene: Jayawardene is now in his second stint as Sri Lankan captain, a job that few seem to relish. He is Sri Lanka's greatest ever run scorer in Tests and can make big scores look effortless in any form of the game. At 35, he only has a few years of cricket left in him but he is still one of the classiest batsmen in the world game. For Jayawardene, a bigger task than scoring runs is establishing a long-term plan for Sri Lankan cricket and training his future replacement as captain, Angelo Mathews.
- Kumar Sangakkara: Nowadays, Sangakkara is almost as well known for his eloquent takedown of Sri Lankan cricket administrators during his 2011 Cowdrey Lecture as for his elegant prowess at the batting crease. It remains to be seen whether Sangakkara's biggest contribution to world cricket comes after his retirement - he is a man of great insight and possesses a healthy arrogance well-suited to coaching or administration - but for now, as he has been for ten years, Kumar Sangakkara is a pivotal cog in the Sri Lanka batting lineup.
- Lasith Malinga: One of the most unconventional fast bowlers ever to succeed at the highest level, 'Malinga the Slinger' bowls with a round-arm action at the limit of legality - and he bowls fast, with a shoe-crushing yorker his speciality. Malinga has been especially successful all around the world in one-dayers and Twenty20s for Sri Lanka. He seems to content to focus on limited-overs cricket, having retired from Tests at the very young age of 27.
Sri Lanka Cricket Timeline:
- 1975: First World Cup Cricket appearance in England.
- 1979: Wins second-tier international ICC Trophy one-day tournament in England.
- 1982: First Test match, against England.
- 1985: First Test win, against India.
- 1991: Sanath Jayasuriya debuts against New Zealand.
- 1992: Muttiah Muralitharan debuts against Australia.
- 1996: Wins Cricket World Cup hosted by Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, beating Australia in the final.
- 1997: Mahela Jayawardene debuts against India.
- 2000: Kumar Sangakkara debuts against South Africa.
- 2002: Shares ICC Champions Trophy with India after the final was rained out twice.
- 2004: Lasith Malinga debuts against Australia.
- 2007: Finishes runner-up in Cricket World Cup in the West Indies.
- 2009: Team bus is attacked by gunmen in Lahore, Pakistan. Seven players and a member of the coaching staff are injured.
- 2011: Finishes runner-up in Cricket World Cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.