5 Sri Lankan bowlers who had a great first-class career but didn't shine in Test cricket

Sri Lankan cricketer Ajantha Mendis (R) : News Photo
Mendis faded away after his mystery was unveiled
Shubham Khare

The Sri Lankan cricket team first arrived on the big stage after they stunned Australia in the 1996 World Cup final and became champions of the world after going into the tournament as underdogs. Since then, several players have emerged from the island nation that made them a superpower in the cricket world.

From the limited overs format to the Test cricket, the legacy went on and the nation now stands amongst the top cricketing powers in the world. Sri Lanka have developed several cricketers who have gone on to leave an indelible mark on the sport in all formats of the game.

But there have been a few who could not do well in the longest format of the game in spite of having good records at the first class level.

Here, we take a look at such players who failed to make it big in the Test arena:

#5 Ajantha Mendis

The right-hander burst onto the scene first in the Asia Cup final of 2008 when he picked up 6 wickets for just 13 runs against India and single-handedly won the game for his side. It was followed by the Test series between India and Sri Lanka hosted by the latter where he again spun a web around the batsmen with his mystery deliveries.


(Video Courtesy: cricketanytime2 YouTube Channel)

A lot was expected of him in all the formats of the game but after his mystery was unfolded, he did not remain the same threat especially in Test cricket. He played 19 Tests in which he managed to bag 70 wickets at an average of 34.77.

Contrary to his Test record, he holds tremendous numbers in first-class cricket having picked 305 wickets to his name in 69 matches. His average of 22.98 is way below his Test average. Though he is still active in the game, his Test career seems to have reached a dead end considering his current form.

#4 Kumar Dharmasena

1st Test Match - Sri Lanka v England : News Photo
Dharmasena played 31 Tests for Sri Lanka

The 45-year-old was a useful all-rounder for the Sri Lankan team with his right-arm off break bowling and right-handed batting. But his prowess was mainly limited to the ODI format, having played 141 ODIs with a decent record in both departments of the game.

His Test career did not witness much success as he could play only 31 Tests and managed to pick 69 wickets, with a costly 42.31 runs per wicket. With the bat, he had just three half-centuries to his credit in 51 innings.

His first-class record is the exact opposite of his Test record as he picked an incredible 495 wickets in 155 games at a wonderful average of 20.77. He was also better with the bat having scored 6568 runs with nine centuries and 37 fifties at a handy average of 36.28.

Post retirement, he took up the role of an umpire and is currently one of the renowned umpires in the game and also a part of the ICC’s elite panel of umpires.

#3 Upul Chandana

GALLE,SRI LANKA - MARCH 8:  Upul Chandana of Sri Lanka celebrates the wicket of Ricky Ponting of Australia  during day one of the First Test between Australia and Sri Lanka played at the Galle International Cricket Stadium on March 8, 2004 in Galle, Sri Lanka. (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)
Chandana has 469 wickets in first-class career

The leg-spinner was a prominent part of the Sri Lankan ODI squad for a number of years and has telling numbers in the format that kept the legacy of spin bowling in the country alive.

But he did not taste too much success in the longest format of the game and played just 16 Tests for his country. He picked just 37 wickets at a costly average of 41.48, which pales in comparison to other spinning greats from the nation.

His first-class stats are an altogether different story. In 165 games, he picked 469 wickets with an average of 24.95. He simply could not translate his impressive first-class form to the highest level; if he had done so, Sri Lanka could have had one more great spinner to torment the opposition.

#2 Nuwan Kulasekara

Nuwan Kulasekara
Kulasekara played just 21 Tests

Known for his ability to swing the new ball both ways, Kulasekara has been the premier fast bowler for Sri Lanka in coloured clothing. He has been a superb servant for Sri Lankan cricket in the shorter format of the game and is still active at the international stage.


(Video Courtesy: ArshsVids YouTube Channel)

But white clothing did not seem to suit him as he featured in only 21 Tests and picked up 48 wickets at an average of 37.37. It is not easy to be a pacer in subcontinent conditions and his gentle pace is one of the reasons for his not so good record in Test cricket.

In first-class cricket, though, he has 272 wickets in 87 matches at an average of 24.2. ODI cricket remains his preferred choice having played 181 games so far and he still is going strong at the age of 34.

#1 Nuwan Zoysa

KANDY, SRI LANKA - MARCH 16:  Nuwan Zoysa of Sri Lanka celebrates the wicket of Darren Lehmann of Australia during day one of the Second Test between Australia and Sri Lanka played at Asgiriya Stadium on March 16, 2004 in Kandy, Sri Lanka. (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)
Zoysa featured in only 30 Tests

Another bowler who promised a lot with his bowling skills was Nuwan Zoysa. The tall left-arm fast bowler, he combined well alongside Chaminda Vaas to form a formidable opening bowling combination for Sri Lanka.

His Test career did not turn out to be a memorable one for him as he appeared on 30 occasions for Sri Lanka in the format and picked up only 64 wickets. He was amongst those players whose ODI career was more fruitful than the Tests. He played his last Test in the year 2004 against Australia after making his debut 7 years before.

His first-class record is far better than his Test record; he played 118 games and took 301 wickets in his tally at an average of 23.77, which is much lower than his Test average of 33.70.

Edited by Staff Editor


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