Perhaps he should not be playing today; perhaps Sanath Jayasuriya should have walked off into the sunset when he was still lord of all he surveyed.
But that should not diminish his singular achievements as a limited- overs batsman. He plays his 445th and final game today at The Oval, two days short of his 42nd birthday, but 15 years ago Jayasuriya reinvented the art of one-day batting.
His pioneering, undaunted fearlessness at the top of the innings erected the platform on which Sri Lanka's breathtaking victory in the 1996 World Cup was built. His 82 from 44 balls in the quarter-final tie against England was the zenith of his achievement then but for the decade following he was a relentlessly attacking force.
Jayasuriya has attracted controversy lately because he is an MP in a controversial government at home. There is no earthly reason, government intervention and sentiment apart, that he should be playing today.
The Oval was probably the scene of his greatest, if not his highest, Test innings. His gloriously extravagant 213 from 278 balls against England in 1998 allowed plenty of time for a magnificent victory.
Thilana Kandamby, Sri Lanka's captain today, said: "He is one of the biggest legends we have ever produced, probably the best one-day player we have had in our country. We haven't decided yet if we should do something for him, but if he gets a hundred that would be the best farewell he can get."Reuse content