Marvan Atapattu: When perseverance paid off

This is an amazing story about Sri Lankan cricketer Marvan Attapattu, who played in Tests and ODIs for 17 years on behalf of his country.

It’s a story that Harsha Bhogle, India’s most loved cricket commentator, loves to tell, over and over again.

Making his debut in Test cricket for Sri Lanka in the year 1990, Marvan scored a duck in his first innings. And again, in his second innings. They dropped him.

So he went back to the nets for more practice. More first-class cricket. More runs. Waiting for that elusive call.

And after twenty-one months, he got a second chance.

This time, he tried harder. His scores: 0 in the first innings, 1 in the second.

Dropped again, he went back to the grind. And scored tonnes of runs in first-class cricket. Runs that seemed inadequate to erase the painful memories of his Test failures.

Well, seventeen months later, opportunity knocked yet again. Marvan got to bat in both innings of the Test. His scores: 0 and 0. Phew!

Back to the grind. Would the selectors ever give him another chance? They said he lacked big-match temperament. His technique wasn’t good enough at the highest level.

Undaunted, Marvan kept trying.

Three years later, he got another chance. This time, he made runs. He came good. And in an illustrious career thereafter, Marvan went on to score over 5,000 runs for Sri Lanka. That included sixteen centuries and six double hundreds.

And he went on to captain his country. All this despite taking over six years to score his second run in Test cricket.

How many of us can handle failure as well as he did?

Six years of trying, and failing. He must have been tempted to pursue another career. Change his sport perhaps. Play county cricket. Or, oh well, just give up. But he didn’t. And that made the difference.

One more thing, Marvan Attapattu is a qualified Chartered Accountant.

By Krishna Sengupta

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In Marvan’s own words, “I played cricket just because I like the game. Otherwise I wouldn’t have gone on for all those years after having scored five ducks at the start of my Test career… And the other thing is greed for runs. In my case, for all the zeroes that I made at the start of my Test career, I thought if I get a start, I have to make the most of it.”