By BV Swagath
Sri Lanka’s Test specialist Thilan Samaraweera has decided to retire from International Cricket with immediate effect. The 36-year-old middle order batsman has expressed his displeasure of being ignored in the Sri Lankan squad for the First Test against Bangladesh in Galle on Friday. His retirement was sent through a letter to the Sri Lankan Cricket Board and no formal press conference was held. It is learnt that Samaraweera had declined an offer to play a farewell Test in the upcoming Bangladesh Series.
Samaraweera, who is known for playing long knocks will continue to play competitive cricket though. The right-hander will play for English county side Worcestershire in the upcoming season.
The right-hander from Colombo had interestingly started off his career as an off-spinner but with the great Muttiah Muralitharan around, Samaraweera had decided to improve his batting skills to make it to the National Team. Samaraweera made his International debut in 1998 in an ODI at Sharjah against Sri Lanka. Three years later in 2001, Thilan Samaraweera earned his Test cap and straightaway scored a century on Debut against India at the SSC ground.
Samaraweera ends his International career having played 81 Tests and 53 ODIs. His ODI career came to an end a couple of years ago and over the years, Samaraweera has been branded as a Test Match specialist. In 83 Tests, the middle-order bat had scored 5462 runs with 14 100s and 30 50s at a healthy average of 48.76 with a career best of 231 Vs Pakistan in 2009 at Karachi. In his 53 ODIs, Samaraweera scored only 862 runs at an average of 27.80 with a couple of hundreds to his name.
The solid right hander’s career was coming to a decline when he was dropped from the Test side following a string of ordinary scores in a home series against Australia in 2011. Samaraweera was ignored for a Test Series that followed in the UAE against Pakistan and was later dropped for the South Africa tour as well. However, a knee injury to Mahela Jayawardene forced the Selectors to name Samaraweera as a back-up player in the last moment. Samaraweera grabbed his opportunity to score two centuries in that series – including the one that helped Sri Lanka pull off a historic victory in the Durban Test.