Sri Lankan Cricket’s 75 Years of Milestones: 1948-to-2023

Rex Clementine, in The Island,  25 June 2023, where the title reads “Celebrating 75 years of cricketing excellence,” … with his four pictorial illustrations augmented by other PIX in sep with his words

A new controlling body for cricket in Ceylon was formed on the 25th of June 1948 and was named Board of Control for Cricket in Ceylon. Today marks the 75th anniversary of the formation of the cricket board. At a meeting held at the Malay Cricket Club at Rifle Green, P. Saravanamuttu was elected as President of the board. The entity has over the years gone through name changes such as Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka and its present name Sri Lanka Cricket.

The Sri Lankan Team celebrates their Defeat of the Australians at Karachi in 1996 to win the World Cup

The initial crest of the board contained two elephants, a coconut tree, a paddy field and Adam’s peak. Over the years this too has gone through significant changes.

At a time when the country didn’t have full member status of the International Cricket Council, opportunities against international sides were few and rare and usually teams travelling to either Australia or England played a game or two as their ships docked at Colombo harbour. India and Pakistan of course engaged in regular contests called ‘unofficial Tests’.












The Ceylon Team walks onto the field at the Oval to field against the Australians led by Bradman on. the  …….1948

Gamini Goonasena makes his mark: Several Ceylonese cricketers in the early days such as Dr.  C.H, Gunasekara, F.C. de Seram, Gamini Goonasena, Laddie Outschoorn and Stanley Jayasinghe excelled in County Cricket in England.

Goonasena among them made a name for himself having become the first Asian to captain Oxford or Cambridge. He completed the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets for Cambridge in two seasons and repeated the feat twice at Nottinghamshire, whom he represented for 11 seasons. Subsequently he became the first Ceylonese to be named as one of Wisden’s five cricketers in 1957.

Gamini Goonesena

 Stanley Jayasinghe





Tissera’s Remarkable Captaincy: The year 1965 was a landmark one for cricket in Ceylon. The team had travelled to India for a three-match four-day unofficial Test series and they beat a strong Indian side skippered by Tiger Pataudi.

The Ceylon Squad that beat India in Ahmedabad, 1964-65

The victory came in Ahmedabad and Tissera’s bold captaincy was hailed by all and sundry. It was the captain’s declaration with the team still trailing that set up the match.

The victory had its rewards as later that year Ceylon were made an Associate member of the ICC. The proposal was brought forward by the Board of Control for Cricket in India  and seconded by Pakistan. Tissera, a living legend richly deserves to have a trophy named after him in international cricket as West indies and – Sri Lanka play for the Sobers–Tissera Trophy.

First ICC Meeting in Colombo: In 1972, Sri Lanka hosted the Asian Cricket Council conference with the participation of key stakeholders of the region. Sri Lanka was represented by Shelly Wickramasinghe and Neil Perera.

ODI Status For Sri Lanka: For the inaugural World Cup in 1975, the full members of the ICC took part and two other teams had been invited – East Africa and Sri Lanka.

It was an historical event as Sri Lanka played their first major cricket competition and their batters had a decent outing with the world appreciating the efforts. Their first ODI was against West Indies. While there were 11 Sri Lankan debutants in that game, there were also two West Indies players who were making their debuts – a certain Vivian Richards and Andy Roberts.

Sri Lanka wins ICC Trophy

For the subsequent World Cup in 1979 there was too much interest and the ICC had to conduct a qualifying round. It was called the ICC Trophy and the two finalists were going through to the World Cup.

Sri Lanka beat Canada in the finals of the ICC Trophy and shocked a strong Indian side during the World Cup at Old Trafford. They became the first Associate Member to beat a full member of the ICC. This win went a long way in the team being granted Test status two years later.

Anura Tennakoon captained the Sri Lankan side.

Test status for Sri Lanka

With Gamini Dissanayake becoming the President of the board, there was an aggressive push to gain Test status. A powerful Cabinet Minister, he addressed key areas like new venues to host international games, sponsorships from the private sector, three-day cricket, indoor nets and trained coaches in a bid to make the nation’s cricket team a strong force. To his credit, in his first attempt Sri Lanka were granted Test status on July 22nd, 1981.

Impressive feats in international cricket

Sri Lanka played their inaugural Test match in 1982 against England and it took them just three years to win their maiden Test match – against India in 1985. The Asia Cup win came not too long after that and it was a feather in the cap of a young cricketing nation. Dileep Mendis skippered the side in both landmark victories.

Sri Lanka’s first overseas Test win came in 1995 in Napier against New Zealand.

Just 15 years after gaining full membership of the ICC, the national team went onto win the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1996. Since then, the team has won a T-20 World Cup and reached two other 50 over World Cup finals and two more T-20 World Cup finals. They were also joint champions of the 2002 Champions Trophy when they shared the trophy with India.

The team’s 952 for six declared in the 1997 Test match against India is a World Record. Sanath Jayasuriya scored  a triple hundred and Sri Lanka had a triple centurion in Test match cricket seven years before India had one, although the big brother had been playing Test match cricket since 1936.

In 1998, Sri Lanka recorded their first Test win in England. Eight years later, they whitewashed England in their backyard 5-0 in ODIs. In 2014, the team won their first Test series in England.

In 2011 Sri Lanka won a Test match in South Africa for the first time and in 2019 they became the first Asian nation to win a Test series in South Africa. In fact, apart from Australia and England, no other team has won a Test series in South Africa.

Spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan is world’s highest wicket taker in Test match cricket with 800 scalps to his name. His 534 wickets in ODI cricket is also a World Record.

** FILE ** Sri Lankan spinner Muttaiah Muralitharan tosses a ball during a practice session in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in this July 30, 2004, file photo. Muralitharan became just the second bowler in history to take 700 test wickets as he claimed six victims Saturday, July 14, 2007, to lead Sri Lanka to a third successive victory over Bangladesh by more than an innings. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)

Interestingly, Sri Lanka had two batsmen – Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara – scoring 10,000 Test runs, before anyone from England reached the milestone. England started playing Test cricket more than 100 years before Sri Lanka.

In 2006, Jayawardene and Sangakkara added 624 runs for the third wicket against South Africa, a World Record for any wicket in Test match cricket.



At one point, Sangakkara was ranked world’s number one batter while Muralitharan held the number one rank for bowlers for a record number of weeks.

In 2020, Sangakkara became the first non-British President of the Marylebone Cricket Club.

Twenty years before him, fellow Kandyan Ranjan Madugalle was made Chief Match Referee of the ICC ahead of other illustrious former players like Clive Lloyd, Gundappa Viswanath and Mike Procter.

There are so many other individuals who have so generously contributed for the benefit of cricket in Sri Lanka and there are several other milestones in the sport that has brought credit to the country. It is regretted that we are not able to record each of those moments or mention all those individuals.

 Caption: Michael Tissera, a living legend was an inspirational captain. He skippered Ceylon to victory over India in an unofficial Test match in 1965 that paved the way for the team to be given Associate Member status of the ICC.


Victory in the 1996 World Cup remains Sri Lanka’s greatest achievement in sports.

** FILE ** Sri Lankan spinner Muttaiah Muralitharan tosses a ball during a practice session in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in this July 30, 2004, file photo. Muralitharan became just the second bowler in history to take 700 test wickets as he claimed six victims Saturday, July 14, 2007, to lead Sri Lanka to a third successive victory over Bangladesh by more than an innings. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)

Muttiah Muralitharan holds the World Record for most wickets in Test match cricket and One-Day Internationals.


The 624 run stand between Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara is a World Record for any wicket in Test match cricket. 

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, art & allure bewitching, charitable outreach, cricket for amity, cricket selections, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, patriotism, performance, Sri Lankan cricket, unusual people

One response to “Sri Lankan Cricket’s 75 Years of Milestones: 1948-to-2023

  1. An EMAIL COMMENT from A Patriotic TRINITIAN in AUSTRALIA, 26 June 2023:
    “Thanks Michael. Very interesting and I hope our politicians stay out of cricket before they ruin our reputation.”

Leave a Reply