On the Front Foot: Blast from the past as Sanath strikes blow for golden oldies

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The Independent Online

Two days before his 42nd birthday, Sanath Jayasuriya will at last end his international career.

It is customary to point out on these occasions that Jack Hobbs made more hundreds after he was 40 than before it, but Jayasuriya is probably being wise. One-day cricket is a young man's game. Not that Jayasuriya's longevity – he played the first of his 444 one-day internationals in 1989 and reinvented the art of one-day batsmanship in the 1996 World Cup – makes him the oldest player.

He was a surprising inclusion in the Sri Lanka squad for the forthcoming one-day series, reportedly after the intervention of the Sri Lankan government. He then sprang a surprise of his own by announcing he would only play in a Twenty20 match against England and the first of the five ODIs.

At 41 years and 363 days, he will be only the 18th oldest player to have appeared in an ODI. The oldest is Nolan Clarke, who was born in Barbados and opened the batting for Holland in the 1996 World Cup. He was 47 years and 257 days when he made 32 against South Africa.

England's oldest one-day cricketer, a record likely to last in perpetuity unless Paul Collingwood gets an extended second wind, is Norman Gifford, who was 44 years and 361 days when he led the side in the second of two matches in the Rothmans Trophy in Sharjah early in 1985.

Young Sanath (if we may be so bold) is not even Sri Lanka's oldest one-day representative. That honour belongs to the leg spinner Somachandra de Silva, who played his last match in 1985 aged 42 years and 261 days.

Lankans with many names...

Initial thoughts are continuing to arrive. Stephen Boothroyd of Leeds has entered the fray partly because it reminded him fondly of his school days. "When I was at school (back in the '60s/'70s) my mates and I used to do cricket quizzes about initials, along with playing pencil cricket, of course – the things we did before PlayStations, etc – and your article brought back happy memories of this time," he wrote.

Stephen has come up with initial suggestions for his all-time favourite batsman, bowler and wicketkeeper. So Gordon (C G) Greenidge is Cricketing Genius, Fred (F S) Trueman is Fiery Speedster and Wally (A T W) Grout is A Tremendous Wicketkeeper.

Tim Mickleburgh of Grimsby also found Trueman to his liking, suggesting Fast Speed while Colin (M C) Cowdrey becomes Most Cultured, Monty (M S) Panesar is Mainly Slow and Chris (C M W) Read is Catches Most Wickets.

It seems that Chris Sladen, whose memories of Johnny (J W H T – Johnny Won't Hit Today) Douglas and his spotting of the plethora of initials enjoyed by Sri Lankan cricketers, inspired the competition, cannot resist another go. For the unfeasibly adorned Chanaka (U W M B C A) Welegedara he suggests Useful When Middle-order Batsmen Counter Attack or, tweaking the initials to apply to the team as a whole, Useless Without Murali But Charming Adversaries.

Two weekend tickets for one of the Tests against India later in the summer for the winner. Keep them coming to the email address below. A minimum three initials preferred.

...and different spellings

Mystery has frequently surrounded the spelling of Sri Lankan players' names. Muttiah Muralitharan, for instance, was always Muralidaran according to the name on his one-day shirt.

Solid opener Tharanga Paranavitana may not be that at all as Test Match Special's estimable scorer, Malcolm Ashton, discovered last week. Although he has been Paranavitana since he made his Test debut two years ago, it seems he is actually Paranawithana and Ashton was sent a copy of the relevant passport page to prove it.

Although some scorers and commentators may change, TMS is sticking with what it had.

Arise from Ashes, Sir Andrew

So Andrew Strauss has been upgraded from an MBE, awarded for his part in the 2005 Ashes victory, to OBE, for the recent win in Australia.

He joins recent luminaries such as Michael Atherton and David Gower in that bracket but one more Ashes triumph, or England being No 1 in the world, and at modern rates of exchange, the ultimate accolade may have to be bestowed.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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