Saturday, April 12, 2008

Do You Know Ajanta Mendis?

Not many people seem to be interested in the on going Sri Lanka - West Indies series despite it producing some good competitive cricket. The Windies seem to be a rejuvenated side under Chris Gayle, while the Lankans are hitting a decline of sorts.

I didn't watch any of the tests but I did manage to catch the 2nd half of the Windies' innings in yesterday's ODI. Quite a chase it was. It was also one of the more exciting ODI matches I've seen in recent times.

Chanderpaul's 4 and 6 of the last 2 balls of the innings to secure a dramatic 1 wicket win for the Windies was surely the highlight of the match.

But there was something else that I found quite amazing.

That was Sri Lanka's new spinner, Ajanta Mendis.

Did you see that boy?

His Cricinfo profile says "Right arm slow medium", but he is anything but that. Watching him bowl was quite a sight. The boy released off spinners, doosras, leg breaks, googlies, flippers, straighter ones and everything and anything that an off spinner and leg spinner bowl.

I haven't seen anyone bowl the way Mendis did last night. Shahid Afridi bowls the occasional fast offspinner in his spells of leg breaks and googlies, and even Sachin Tendulkar bowls a mixture of everything, but this Mendis boy was different. In fact I felt he was something special.

His debut performance last night was figures of 3-39 off 10. His 3 wickets came of 3 different deliveries - a straighter one with an off spinner's action, a flipper with a leg spinner's action, and a looping off spinner.

His first class record is quite astonishing - 19 matches, 111 wickets at an average of 14.5. His List A record even more so - 20 matches, 40 wickets at an average of 11.5.

Is he the next big thing of Sri Lankan Cricket?

Is he Murali's long term replacement?

Too early to call but the indications from his domestic record and from what I saw last night, there's a high chance that he is.

Make your pitch on this post...

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16 Pitched:

  1. Dr V W Jagath Vasanthathilaka said...

    Thanks regarding recognition given towards Ajantha Mendis. He is a rare talent which needs to be made use of for the benefit of Sri Lankan Cricket, without further delay in exposing him to the international field. Combination of Murali and Ajantha Mendis will be deadly. Strike bowler Lasith Malinga was a notable absence in this tour. When he returns it will be a different story altogether. Combination of old and new talents will give us an edge over any international side.

    21 years and 48 days old Chamara Kapugedera was the other young Sri Lankan talent who cannot be ignored, he is a useful part time bowler which is an added advantage to a one day side, and he has already taken the wicket of Australian opener Adam Craig Gilchrist that is in addition to his extraordinary batting Skills. Chamara has stood for the team under difficult circumstances when all top order players fail away from home especially in England and Australia tours, facing increasingly unfavorable ground conditions and hostile crowds. So far, his fielding skills have helped toppling many international players using his swift and accurate direct hits at the wickets.

    Prospects for future of Sri Lankan cricket seem to be firm. Please give those young talents a chance to gain experiens in the game of cricket in the international domain. New talents and all the other options need to be explored.
    We wish Ajantha Mendis all the best; it is the time to introduce new talents to the Sri Lankan team.

    Kind Regards
    Dr. V. W. Jagath Vasanthathilaka.

  2. David Barry said...

    Unfortunately my ISP's not loading many YouTube videos these days, so I haven't seen Mendis bowl. I should have a chance when I'm in London next week.

    It sounds like he's a throwback to a century ago, when some bowlers would bowl off-breaks, leg-breaks, and medium pace seamers and cutters.

  3. Dr V W Jagath Vasanthathilaka said...

    Exactly, we found some related videos in the Mendis is a rare talent; it is worth watching some videos.
    (One might feel it is irrelevant to mention names of the other young Sri Lankan talents however, we had to highlight Chamara Kapugedera (95 with 3 sixes) and Chamara de Silva (67) as they shared a record sixth-wicket stand of 159 to rebuild the Sri Lankan innings after it slipped to 49-5. Chamara Kapugedera was overlooked despite his good performances initially for no reason and it is difficult for a player to buildup a carrier when the exposure is interrupted so frequently. There is a risk of repeating the same mistake again if we continue to ignore his contribution towards the game of cricket at this stage.)

    Thank you.

  4. Q said...

    Dr. Jagath - Thank you for your comments.

    The Lankans have definitely introduced a number of young players and all of them seem to have a fair bit of talent. For Sri Lanka's sake I hope your plea falls on the ears of Arjuna Ranatunga...

  5. Obaid said...

    Dr Jagath, welcome to wellpitched. I am asuming you are a Sril Lankan cricket supporter? If thats the case, then I extend an extra warm welcome because we feel that Sri Lankan cricket is under represented in the blogosphere :) Do you know of good sri lankan cricket blogs?

    Q, thanks for bringing attention to Mendis... I hadnt heard of him and I just went through highlights of his performance on Youtube. The West Indians were all at sea against him

    David, many people argue that Youtube is killing the net because of the high bandwidth it uses up :) So thats hwy its blocked by your ISP. Im going to post a pic highlighting Mendis' variation so you can get some insight into his trickery

  6. Suave said...

    Nice work Q..

    He wasn't quite so lucky yesterday, but Chanderpaul is one of the finest players of spin in world cricket.

    Also, Marlon Samuels decided to use his feet for a change, so scored quite nicely off him too.

  7. Anonymous said...

    suavee...but it ws alsoo wett n dampp and increasingly hard 2 get grip of the bowl..especially wen mendis predominanlty uses his fingers wen practicing his trade...

  8. Anonymous said...

    Gunner Balapuwaduge Ajantha Winslow Mendis (S/158405) of Sri Lanka Artillery created history in the Sri Lanka Army by being the first-ever to enter the National Cricket Team of the country, now played in the West Indies.

    Sri Lanka Army Cricket Committee spotted his talents when he played a cricket match against the Army under 23 Division 11 during 2003/2004 tournaments. The Army requested him to join the Regular Force of Sri Lanka Army as there was a dearth of cricketers joining the Army, particularly from Colombo schools. He accepted this offer since his father who was the only bread-winner for the family had already departed them following a heart attack, the week before.

    After his basic recruit training he was straight away drafted into the Army Cricket Pool by the Chairman, SL Army cricket. From there onwards he was handled with greater care and guided properly through turbulence. Being a hard working youngster and a quick learner, Mendis was able to cement his place in the Army mainly due to his talents in all three spheres. He was coached initially by Mr Saman Hewawithrana and by Mr Neil Rajapaksha afterwards; both coaches did a good job in guiding him. He has shown a steady progress in all the tournaments organized hitherto by SL Cricket when representing the Army.

    Born in March 1985 Mendis hails from a hamlet in Moratuwa. He is the third child in a family of five with an elder brother and a sister. He has had his basic education at St Anthony’s College at Kadalana in his village where there were no facilities at all for sports. He subsequently entered Moratuwa Maha Vidyalaya in the year of 2000. During a cricket coaching class, Mendis’ talents were initially identified by the school coach named Mr Lucky Rogers back in the year 1998 when he was just 13 years of age. In the year 2000 he represented the school under 15 cricket team and he was selected to the first eleven team. He also deputized for the school team captain. This slow medium bowler with a variation of leg spin was adjudged the Best Bowler at the big-matches twice in 2001 and 2002.

  9. Q said...

    Yeah Suave, the Windies seemed fine against him yesterday.

    Uncle J reckons he might not do so well against the Haydens and Sehwags of the world. I sense otherwise.

  10. Q said...

    Anonymous - Thanks for the briefing on Ajanta Mendis.

  11. Amila said...

    I think all the credit must go to the selection commitee. If they haven't introduce him to the privincial cricket (wayamba)no body would talk about Ajantha Mendis. Once we saw on channel eye in provincial tournament every body thought he should be in the national team as well. I have seen him bowling in that tournament all the opposition players didn't know what is coming from his hand. Think Murali should rest for ondayers.

  12. Q said...

    Welcome here Amila. I think Ajanthas presence will allow the team management to rest murali during the ODIs, which shud allow him to prolong his test career.

  13. Anonymous said...

    hey anonymous .. thanks for the info .. Mendis was simply brilliant and we wish him the very best .. may be he is a sniper in the army .. lol .. coz he was sooo accurate. God Bless him and protect him. He gave us hopes for SL Cricket.
    -Shenell, Colombo

  14. LK - Texas, USA said...

    I was googling for Ajantha Mendis and came across with this blog. I watched the highlights of yesterday's test match between Sri Lanka and India. Well Mendis and Murali destroyed India. Wonderful stuff! Yeah Mendis the next big thing in Sri Lanka. His 8 wickets in his debut is the best for a debutant in SL and Murali admitted that Mendis is better than he was at the beginning. This is great stuff. I am waiting to see a SL - Australia match with Murali-Mendis-Malinga-Vaas combination.

  15. Q said...

    LK Texas - thank you for stopping by and commenting. I'v covered Mendis more on this blog.. keep coming back.

    Mendis is probably the best thing to happen to Lanka cricket since Murali and Jayasuriya..

  16. Anonymous said...

    By far the most comprehensive collection of information and videos on Ajantha Mendis can be found on - I am yet to find any site that has focused on Mendis even prior to test his ODI debut. Take a look at some of the videos from Sri Lanka's provincial tournament he has been very succesful and Sri Lanka has kept him in hiding well till he blossomed.

    The word is Ajantha's close mate form the Sri lanka army bowls leg spin with a Lasith malinga type action and is equally unplayable, watch out for him!

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