Home > Features > Moments in history >

Roger Wijesuriya: Sri Lanka’s left-arm spinner who has one of the highest Test bowling averages

Roger Wijesuriya. Photo Courtesy: Sunday Observer
Roger Wijesuriya. Photo Courtesy: Sunday Observer

Roger Wijesuriya, born on February 18, 1960, was a Sri Lankan left-arm spinner in the 1980s whose Test bowling average reads as 294.00. Nishad Pai Vaidya revisits his career.

There are some players who are remembered for a particular number. Of course, you may speak about Don Bradman’s 99.94 or Sachin Tendulkar’s 100 international tons. But, there is a set of players known for unwanted records too. Their “claim to fame”, is related to an unwanted statistical number. Although a few bowlers have gone past his infamous record every now and then, Roger Wijesuriya of Sri Lanka still holds the highest bowling average in Test cricket for a cricketer who has retired from the game — 294.00. At the time of writing, Naeem Islam has surpassed him and stands on top with an average of 300.

Roger Gerard Christopher Ediriweeera Wijesuriya was born on February 18, 1960 in Moratuwa. At a young age itself, he was known for bowling slow left-arm. In 1978, he was selected for Sri Lanka Under-19 to play Australia Under-19. In the third Youth Test, he took five wickets and one of his victims was a future Australian international, Dirk Wellham. However, the series that launched him into limelight was the following year when he faced the Pakistan Under-19 side.

In a three-day match at the P Sara Oval, he started off with a nine-wicket match haul. He took four for 62 in the first innings and five for 68 in the second. However, in the second match, he took five for 36 and five for 56 to help Sri Lanka Under-19 win by 13 runs. And, it did not stop there, as he finished with another four-for in a limited overs game. With all that behind him, he was picked for the Sri Lankan squad for the 1979 World Cup. Although he did not play a game in the main draw, he did appear in games against the counties and in practice matches.

As Sri Lanka yearned for Test status, Wijesuriya was in their ranks and played for them in the lead-up to them receiving the much-awaited Test status. He finally made his One-Day International (ODI) debut against Pakistan at Karachi in March 1982 and finished with figures of one for 48, taking the wicket of Mansoor Akhtar. A few days down the line, he made his Test debut at Lahore. In that one Test innings he played, he recorded figures of none for 105 in 24 overs. Thereafter, he only returned in 1985 to internationals.

Following a decent home ODI series against India, he made the trip to Pakistan, where he had made his debut three years ago in 1982. But, in the three Tests, he bowled 73.4 overs and could only take one wicket. That lone wicket came in the third Test at Karachi and spin legend Abdul Qadir turned out to be his victim. Thus, Wijesuriya recorded his best Test figures of one for 68. That however, was his last Test.

In four Tests, he took one wicket at that average of 294.00. In comparison, his ODI record was much better as he took eight wickets in eight matches at 35.87 with a best of two for 25. But, for those days, his economy of 5.51 was high.

Wijesuriya did play in domestic cricket till 1994, even appearing for Sri lanka B once, but the international call-up was elusive. Post retirement, he did become a coach and guided the Sri Lankan Under-19 team for a while.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton


South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run


Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai


AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Sachin has been my mentor and a guide, says Yuvraj Singh

Australia reeling at 281/8 at Tea on Day 3 of the 1st Test match against Pakistan

Michael Holding insists that ICC is 20 years late on crackdown over chucking

MS Dhoni has done a commendable job as India captain, says Yuvraj Singh

Michael Holding insists that MS Dhoni is no longer ‘innovative and proactive’

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Spin hunt continues for visitors

Sarfaraz Ahmed may have trumped the Akmals as Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman across formats

Don Bradman — even if every chance he ever gave in his career was accepted, he would still remain head and shoulders above the others

Len Hutton’s hundred gets reported as illness

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

अभिनेत्री हुमा कुरैशी ओरिफ्लेम की ब्रांड एंबेसडर

Has Bigg Boss 8 made Karishma Tanna the most hated person?

Pranab Mukherjee returns home after visit to Norway, Finland

Revealed: First look of Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar’s Do!

7 reasons why having sex during pregnancy is great for your health

Videocon Infinium Graphite with gesture control feature launched, priced at Rs 10,499

Rupee up 19 paise against dollar in early trade

Twitter introduces Audio Cards to listen to music directly from your timeline

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here