How he went from a Sri Lankan fishing village to becoming the country`s national treasure, how his fame in some part helped his mother survive the South Asian Tsunami in 2004
This left-handed batsman earned a reputation as one of the world’s most feared batsmen, someone whose ferocious hitting helped revolutionize the one-day game. Sri Lankan cricket legend Sanath Jayasuriya, recently recalled to Sri Lanka's one-day squad for a tri-series with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in January, has a staggering 421 one-day internationals to his name. The 39-year old is far from slowing down and he discusses with CNN’s Hugh Riminton on TALK ASIA this week, how he went from a Sri Lankan fishing village to becoming the country's national treasure, how his fame in some part helped his mother survive the South Asian Tsunami in 2004, and his thoughts on the dramatic changes that cricket is currently undergoing.
Jayasuriya revolutionized the way one-day cricket is being played, with his aggressive approach and hard hitting, particularly in the first 15 overs. He has scored over 12,000 runs & also proved himself handy with the ball, claiming over 300 ODI wickets. He came into the limelight during the 1996 World Cup when he was named the player of the tournament and subsequently Wisden’s Cricketer of the Year in 1997.
On the future of cricket, Jayasuriya suggests that changes need to be made to the 50-over game to draw more people to watch – he believes the shorter Twenty/20 game is the answer. "Cricket has changed all over the world. For the public to watch this game we need for it to change. You can now enjoy all that in around 3 hours (with Twenty20). The Indian Premier League (IPL) is good for cricket and good for cricketers. The one-day game will be phased down."
Jayasuriya also shares with Riminton how, along with fellow cricketer Marvan Atapattu, he used some of his earnings to construct 150 houses for Tsunami victims. He reflects on how personal the tsunami is to him as his mother nearly got swept away by the waves and if it were not for people recognizing him by name, she would not have been rescued.
Jayasuriya is the first cricketer to be appointed a United Nations (UN) Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS, a cause he is very committed to: "Coming from Sri Lanka you need to do a lot of charity work and help in anyway you can. People love cricket and they look to cricketers, so as a team Sri Lanka also does a lot for charity. It's a personal commitment,"
While cricket is the love of his life, Jayasuriya realizes his constant travels takes a toll on time spent with his wife and three children. He reveals how he first met his soul mate, now his wife, while on a flight from India to Sri Lanka but how it took him one year to find and convince her to marry him.
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