Hashan Tillakaratne: 10 interesting things to know about the former Sri Lankan batsman

Hashan Tillakaratne, born July 14, 1967, is a former Sri Lankan captain and one of the main batsmen in their developmental years. On his 48th birthday, Shiamak Unwalla looks at 10 interesting things to know about a man who has donned many hats.

1.  Sri Lankan stalwart

Though his stats might not suggest it, Tillakaratne was one of the leading Sri Lankan batsmen of his era. Among all Sri Lankan batsmen with at least 1,000 Test runs, Tillakaratne’s average of 42.87 is the sixth best, ahead of more celebrated names such as Tillakaratane Dilshan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu, Roy Dias and Arjuna Ranatunga.

2.  World Cup hero

One of the heroes of Sri Lanka’s fairytale 1996 World Cup-winning campaign, Tillakaratne scored 128 runs in five innings at 64 with one half-century. He was dismissed on only two occasions during the tournament.

3.  A rare change-up!

Sri Lanka broke One-Day International (ODI) records galore when they slammed 398 for five against Kenya during the 1996 World Cup. Sanath Jayasuriya, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Aravinda de Silva, and Arjuna Ranatunga went ballistic, all scoring at a strike-rate of over 120. Asanka Gurusinha scored a relatively calm half-century as well. However, what was to follow was one of the rarest occurrences in ODI cricket. Tillakaratne, who bowled on only 15 occasions in ODI cricket, was called upon to bowl the final over of the match. He proceeded to bowl three balls of left-arm spin before switching to right-arm off-breaks (after informing the umpire) mid-way through the over.

4.  Wicketkeeping duties

Tillakaratne kept wickets in the early part of his career, and did a fairly competent job at it as well. In 52 ODIs as wicketkeeper, he scored 1,035 runs at 31.36, which was better than his overall average. However, in 11 Tests in which he kept wickets he could manage a mere 504 runs at 31.50, a far cry from his career average of 42.87.

5.  West Indies basher

Tillakaratne played in an era in which West Indies was still a formidable bowling unit. Despite this, he was at his best against the Caribbean. In seven Tests against West Indies, he scored 446 runs at a humungous average of 89.20 with two centuries including his best Test score of 204 not out. However, it must be said that the bulk of the runs against West Indies came in Sri Lanka. His record in the West Indies is grossly different; just 34 runs in four innings at 11.33.

6.  Political aspirations

After retiring from international cricket, Tillakaratne turned his attention to politics. Already a popular figure, Tillakaratne used his people skills by joining the United National Party. He remains a politician even now.

7.  Cricket-Aid

After the devastating tsunami of 2004 Sri Lanka Cricket started Cricket-Aid in order to provide relief for those affected, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) made Tillakaratne the executive director of the body.

8.  Honoured by MCC

Tillakaratne received the honour of being made an honorary lifetime member of the MCC in March 2008.

9.  President of ACUSSL

Furthermore, that same year Tillakaratne was appointed president of the Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers of Sri Lanka (ACUSSL).

10.  Cricketing family

Hashan’s twin sons, Ravindu and Duvindu, are both current members of Sri Lanka’s under-19 cricket team.

(Shiamak Unwalla is a proud Whovian and all-round geek who also dabbles in cricket writing as a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)