Aravinda de Silva :: Biography

Pinnaduwage Aravinda de Silva is a former Sri Lankan cricketer, who is considered one of the finest batsmen produced by the country. He is also regarded as one of the most elegant batsman in his generation, and to date is the only player to make a hundred and take 3 or more wickets in a World cup final. He was the head of the national selection committee briefly before stepping down after the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.

He stands at 5ft and 4 inches and arguably there has not been a better smaller player from the island nation. His enthusiasm was amazing and was a virtual ever-present in the Sri Lanka side and also played first-class and club cricket in England, South Africa and Australia. His international career ended with the 2003 World Cup, where he batted with all the verve and panache of old, and bowled his off-spinners cannily.

Silva was born in Colombo on October 17, 1965, and, in spite of his size (5 ft. 3½ in) and soon demonstrated his exceptional talent. Like many small men, he learned to cut and hook proficiently. He started attacking the ball while playing weekend club cricket that scarcely differed in approach from the Sunday League in England. Hence De Silva's fondness for the one-day game (it was no coincidence that Kent won the League during his one season with them) and his desire early in his career not to let anything go by outside off stump. As a 19-year-old, he took part in his country's first victory, against India in Colombo, making 75 in the second innings.

During the early part of his career he was known as a dashing but inconsistent batsman – he was given the nickname "Mad Max" for his tendency to get out to rash shots. But a successful season playing first-class cricket for the English county Kent in 1995 marked a turning point in his career. 

De Silva was instrumental in Sri Lanka's triumph in the 1996 Cricket World Cup where his unbeaten century and three wickets earned him the Man of the Match award in the final against Australia. His other notable achievements include scoring a century in each innings of a Test match on two separate occasions (only bettered by India's Sunil Gavaskar and Australia's Ricky Ponting, who each performed this feat three times). One of these doubles was 138 and 105, both undismissed, against Pakistan at Colombo's Sinhalese Sports Club in April 1997. This made him the first, and so far only, player to score two not out centuries in the same Test match. As he had scored 168 in the second innings of the previous Test, he posted three hundreds in eight days. He finished the year with 1220 runs at 76.25.