With a strike rate over hundred in all three formats in the domestic cricket (116.8 In First Class, 102.7 In List A and 124.8 In T20) Sri Lanka’s former International Jeevantha Kulatunga is in his own league and leaves behind some of the all time greats, like India’s Virender Sehwag and Chris Gayle!
In modern cricket, with its distinct limited overs formats, the issue of strike rate is one that has become increasingly important. A high strike rate makes a batsman more valuable to their team and it’s also likely to attract the attention of high-paying global franchises.
However, even before the arrival of T20 format, there were players like Sanath Jayasuriya, Adam Gilchrist and Shahid Afridi, who played the 50 Overs and even test cricket like game’s shorter formats!
What these legends of the game did in International Cricket, Sri Lanka’s former batter Jeevantha Kulatunga replicated the same in domestic cricket!
Upon comparing Kulatunga’s strike rate in First Class, List A and T20 matches, the database suggests that he clearly leads the chart, leaving behind even International greats!
In the first decade of 21st century, Sanath Jayasuriya, Shahid Afridi, Chris Gayle and Adam Gilchrist were terrorising bowlers around the globe. Jayasuriya’s first class and List A strike rates are not available in public domain and his T20 strike rate was 128.1. Same scenario with Afridi and Gilchrist as well, whose T20 strike rate is 153.9 and 140.3. Gayle, Jamaican tsunami, who rewrote all T20 records, First class and List A strike rates are also not available and his T20 strike rate is 137.3.
In modern era, Virat Kohli, Stave Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root are termed as ‘FAB Four’, greatest of the generation. Among them, Kohli’s First Class, List A and T20 strike rate is 55.7, 93.6 and 133.4 respectively. Smith’s is 55.2, 88.3, 127.6. Kane’s is 52, 80.7 and 122.7. In comparison, Root’s is 57.1, 85.6 and 126.2. Babar Azam, who has been challenging ‘FAB Four’ supremacy, strike rate is 56, 87.1 and 128.8 respectively.
Apart from ‘FAB Four’ and charismatic Babar Azam, Jonny Bairstow (NA, 103.3, 135.4), Jos Buttler (57.2, 119.0, 141.3), Ben Stokes (NA, 97.0, 133.6) List A strike rate gives stiff competition to Kulatunga, but even they don’t have a strike rate of over hundred in all three formats, even though they are the Integral part of ‘Bazball’, England’s newest Invent!
Other than these legends, some of the other big players of modern day cricket are – Quinton De Cock (75.5, 96.3, 138.3), David Miller (57.8, 100.7, 139.3), Travis Head (62.2, 101.5, 132.8) and Marnus Labuschagne (53.9, 85.1, 125.9).
If we look at younger generation, India’s Yashasvi Jaiswal and Prithvi Shaw have Impressed one and all. While Jaiswal strike rate is 65.4, 86.2 and 143.9, Shaw’s is 83, 126.7 and 150.3.
Two legends of the game, Virender Sehwag and David Warner, with available strike rate database in all three formats, gives stiff competition to Kulatunga. While Warner strike rate is 70.9, 96.7 and 140.6 respectively, Sehwag, who was famous for playing every format in same attacking style, strike rate in First Class, List A and T20 cricket is 81.6, 103.4 and 147.8 respectively.
So, analytical comparison, based on the available database in public domain, Indicates that Kulatunga has achieved a remarkable feat, which astonishingly, no one else has – maintaining a strike rate over hundred in all three formats in the domestic cricket, even after playing cricket for so long! (206 First Class matches, 113 List A and 50 T20).
Kulatunga was the surprise selection for Sri Lanka’s Twenty20 squad for the Canada Cup in October 2008, aged 34, but it followed several outstanding domestic seasons. His all-round abilities as an innovative and mentally resilient middle-order batsman capable of playing under pressure, as well as being a wily seam bowler, gave him the edge over less experienced rivals. Sri Lanka’s selectors were attracted by his specialist limited-over skills and his huge experience as they tried to strengthen the middle order. However, his international career lasted only for two games.
Even though he had to end his international career prematurely, he continued to dominate in the domestic arena. In 2010, he scored the fastest 100 by a Sri Lankan in domestic T20 cricket, and he is the only player to score a double hundred in the Mercantile 50-over tournament. He is the only batter to have a strike rate of over 100 in all three formats in domestic cricket.
Thus, it’s fittingly to say, Sri Lanka Cricket couldn’t utilize a player, who could have been achieved some miraculous things in the game of Cricket!
*NA = Not Available
NOTE: The article is based on available database in public domain.