Ata Boy! Atapattu

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 3:35 [IST]
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Marvan Atapattu, has decided to call it a day, just before his 37th birthday! It"s a well-known fact that he has been at logger heads with the Lankan selectors. They have had their differences and it"s been unsavoury for the former captain of the team. At the 2007 edition of the cricket World Cup Marvan had to face the ignominy of warming the benches right through the event. He had a lot of time to reflect and perhaps this announcement of his retirement is the result of that period of introspection.

The past year has been a trying one for the right-handed batsman. An otherwise soft-spoken individual, Atapattu has always said what was on his mind when it came to the selectors. The latest outcry was when he called them "muppets headed by a joker" It must be noted that he was not on the current tour to Australia, and only after the sports minister intervened, he was drafted in.

Atapattu was made captain of the national side for one-dayers in 2003. So when it was time to appoint a new captain for the Test side, he thought, as did a lot of other people, that it would go to him, but the selectors decided to invest in Hashan Tillakaratne. In another bizarre turn of events that year when England toured Sri Lanka, a sizeable amount of money was discovered in the safe of the hotel room that Atapattu had occupied. There were accusations of match-fixing against the quiet and unassuming cricketer. But the ICC were quick to clarify that Atapattu was in the clear. This event can only be seen as a lowly exercise to sully the reputation of the man.

The following year, Atapattu took over from Tillakaratne as Test captain. On the field, one would say that he was the more subdued variety of captains, but they say that in the dressing room he was a positive and fiery individual! Hard to imagine, but must be true.

Early in 2006, a back injury meant that Marvan"s career would be kept on hold. In the meanwhile, his deputy Mahela Jayawardene was made the captain. Slowly but surely he made his way back to the one-day side but his already poor equation with the selectors just turned worse. As mentioned earlier, his 2007 World Cup experience was a forgettable one and it"s been one uphill task for the man who was once captain of his side.

As cricket lovers, he will be remembered as the don of 'double hundreds' as he amassed 6 in his Test career which had ironically begun with a series of ducks! His elegant style of batting was a pleasure to watch and all his fans will miss this display of batsmanship. But that"s the beauty of cricket. There are moments that will always be etched in the mind. For the statistically inclined, Atapattu finished his Test career with 5502 runs with 249 being his highest ever score. In this time he has score 16 centuries and 17 half-centuries. And in the 50-50 format he has 8529 runs to his credit including 11 centuries and 59 half-centuries. So it's been a wholesome career that's spanned 17 years.

But this is not the end for Marvan, but more like a new beginning. He will be captain again, of the Delhi Jets league side in the breakaway Indian Cricket League. Not only this, he has also expressed his thoughts on being a commentator with Channel 9 in Australia, and will consider moving to Sydney for the same. The road ahead is busy for the man from Kalutara, and here"s hoping that his career ahead is one that will make him a content man.

Thank you Marvan for all the times you have impressed with the willow. We shall miss you!


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