Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sri Lankan 'rebel' players' tour to South Africa (1982) (a quick recap)

It was 18 years ago on a day like today that Nelson Mandela was sworn in as South Africa's first democratically elected black president, thereby officially ending the apartheid. During the apartheid, South Africa was banned from international sport and any team or players who travelled to play in that country were severely penalized, often with long durations of bans.

Towards the end of 1982, 14 Sri Lankan cricketers (some of them national players) made a 'rebel' tour to South Africa. The result was a 25 year ban to each of them. But, the most damaging impact was that our cricket-crazy island nation lost some of the most talented Sri Lankan cricketers and their services for the future. Hence, some experts believe that it would have retracted the country's cricketing prowess by a few good years.

Stats and records of the above-mentioned 'Arosa SL' tour are very scarce. But Cricinfo has a somewhat comprehensive (if one may regard it as such) record in their archives. I happened to stumble upon it and found the figures and scorecards pretty interesting. Although 12 matches were played, the archives have the scores of only 11 matches. The scorecard of an ODI is missing. Sri Lanka lost all matches with the exception of two, which were drawn against Western Province & Eastern Province teams. The tour comprised of four ODIs, six First-class matches & two 'Test' matches. Even though the Lankan players were beaten well and truly, there were some exceptional & consistent performances from a few of our talented players of yesteryear.

In order to discover these 'jewels' of both teams, and to obtain a hitherto unknown and a more relevant picture of these unseen (by me) players, I performed a very simple analysis noting down the best performances of players from the two teams. What I found have been listed below (format-wise).

First-class matches

For Sri Lanka, the most consistent batsmen were Bernard Perera & Anura Ranasinghe, both scoring more than 300 runs throughout the series. The highest score by a Lankan batsman was 96 by Perera. Bandula De Silva & Flavian Aponso too had made decent contributions. The standout bowler was Tony Opatha, while Ranasinghe & Lalith Kaluperuma had chipped in with a few wickets. Ranasinghe's all-round capabilities had left a prominent mark throughout these matches. I was also amazed to find out that Jerry Woutersz was a pretty good batter.

One thing I noted was that a few South African national players represented the Western Province team, including Peter Kirsten. There were altogether five centuries - two from Transvaal players (Mark Venter & Henry Fotheringham), another couple from Western Province players (Ken McEwan & Lawrence Seeff) and one from an Eastern Province batsman (Dave Richardson) - the highest being 159 runs made by Fotheringham. Bowlers such as Pienaar Anker, Kenny Watson, Kenneth Cooper & Michael Clare seemed to have had good spells capturing more than 5 wickets in matches they played.

Test matches

Though only two matches were played, six SL batsmen were able to score half centuries, while Bernard Perera was the sole centurion (102). Flavian Aponso and Jerry Woutersz were the most consistent batsmen. There is nothing much to talk about the Sri Lankan bowling in test matches, but Lalith Kaluperuma had managed to secure a 5-wicket haul.

While it wouldn't take rocket science to understand that the SA batsmen would have had a run feast, three of them stood out. Namely, Jimmy Cook, Graeme Pollock & Lawrence Seeff. All three of them had scored a 150+ score, the highest being a 197 by Pollock. Garth Le Roux's performance was the best for a SA bowler which included a 6-wicket haul as well.

ODI matches

The only Lankan batsman to score a century is Anura Ranasinghe (100). None of the others were able to surpass the half-century mark. This may sound a bit startling, given that each innings was played for 55 overs unlike nowadays. But then again, that might be attributed to good South African bowling. Bowling-wise too there isn't much to talk, except that Susantha Karunaratne had picked up a couple of wickets twice.

For South Africa, three batsmen made centuries: Jimmy Cook, Peter Kirsten & Lawrence Seeff; Seeff and Cook displaying their capabilities in the shorter format too. Barry Richards was also consistent making a couple of half centuries. Vince van der Bijl was the best bowler for the South Africans.

So that brings to an end my short recap/analysis of a long-forgotten and (in)famous series of the past. If you are interested in going through the scores and figures of each match, you may do so by visiting the link provided at the beginning of this article.

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