All About the Sri Lanka Cricket Team

The Sri Lanka cricket team, also known as The Lions, is run by the Sri Lanka Cricket Association. They have been Full Members of the ICC since the 21st of July, 1981.

By reading this page, you will learn all about the history surrounding cricket in Sri Lanka, the colours that they wear when playing cricket, who their current best players are, how they have been getting on at ICC tournaments and against other nations, as well how they are getting on in world cricket at the moment.

Sri Lanka Cricket History

sri lanka cricket team

There are no prizes for guessing who brought cricket to Sri Lanka. Yup, you guessed it, it was the British. It is believed that the first game of cricket was played in Sri Lanka in the early 1800s, but the first recorded match happened in 1832. Soon after, the Colombo Journal called for a cricket club to be formed, which led to the Colombo Cricket Club being formed in November that year. Not much is known about the next 50 years of cricket in Sri Lanka, but it is known that Ivo Bligh took his England team to play a warm-up game in Colombo in 1882 before they went to Australia to try and reclaim the Ashes. Six years later, an England team captained by George Vernon toured Sri Lanka, and the Australian team toured there in 1890.

By 1911, five English teams had toured Sri Lanka. In 1926, Sri Lanka played their first first-class game against the Marylebone Cricket Club in Colombo. The visiting team went on to claim an easy innings win. They got their first first-class win in 1932 when they beat Patiala in India. They were then restricted to playing against touring teams, mostly England and Australia, who used Sri Lanka as a stopover when travelling to visit each other's country. In 1945, the Indian team visited Sri Lanka, but their match was drawn due to the bad weather. After World War II, the Australian Services cricket team was the first team to tour Sri Lanka.

In 1949, the West Indies visited the country and played two first-class games. The visiting side won the first match easily, while the second one was drawn. Pakistan visited later that year for two first-class games as well. Pakistan won both matches very comfortably, but there was a decent batting display from Sri Lanka in the second match. From 1953 right up until 1976, the Sri Lanka team played a biennial first-class game against Madras (now named Tamil Nadu). India visited again in 1956 and played two first-class matches against Sri Lanka in Colombo. Both the matches ended up in a draw.

In 1964, the Sri Lanka team beat the Pakistan A team at home and then the Indian team away from home. The West Indies visited again in 1967 to play one first-class game in Colombo, the match ended in a draw. Sri Lanka wanted to press forward their claim for test status, so they wanted to tour England in 1968. Nineteen matches were scheduled from June to August, but the association in charge of Sri Lanka cricket could not pay for the trip, so donations were sought. However, the tour was cancelled when there was a huge dispute over the players that would be selected to make the trip. In 1972, Pakistan visited Sri Lanka to play one first-class match in Colombo. The match was drawn because of the weather. India toured again in 1974 and won the first game by 6 wickets. However, the remaining three matches were drawn due to bad weather. In 1975, the West Indies played two first-class matches in Sri Lanka, with both games ending in a draw.

Their first top-international cricket came in 1975 when they played in the 1975 ICC Cricket World Cup. They lost all three of their group games against the West Indies, Australia, and Pakistan very easily. The won the ICC trophy in 1979, meaning that they qualified for the 1979 Cricket World Cup that was due to be played later that year. Once again, they failed to make it out of the group stage, but they did pick up their first ODI win against a test-playing nation when they beat India. In 1981, the ICC decided that Sri Lanka had done enough in the world of cricket to be granted test status. They played their first test against England in Colombo on the 17th February, 1982. Sri Lanka recorded their first test win in 1985 when they beat India by 149 runs in Colombo. They had to wait 7 years for their first series victory, which was against New Zealand in 1992. They followed this 1-0 series win with their first test win against England. In 1995, they won their first overseas test match and series against New Zealand in Napier.

The following year, they co-hosted the Cricket World Cup. They put in a series of outstanding performances and went on to win the trophy by beating Australia in the final. In 1997, they went on to win the Asia Cup by beating India in the final by 8 wickets. The 1999 Cricket World Cup was a huge disappointment for Sri Lanka as the defending champions failed to make it out of the group stages. They have not won the Cricket World Cup again, but they were the runners-up in 2007 and 2011. However, they managed to win the Asia Cup in 2004, 2008, and 2014, making them the second most successful team in this competition behind India. They also won the T20 World Cup for the first time in 2014.

Nowadays, they are not that competitive in the test arena, which is understandable since the likes of Kumar Sangakara, Mahela Jayawardene, and Tillakaratne Dilshan no longer play international cricket. However, on their day, they can still mix it with the best in limited overs cricket, as seen by their win against England at the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

"Their head coach at this moment in time is Rumesh Ratnayake, while their test and one-day captain is Dimuth Karunaratne. Dasun Shanaka is their T20 captain."

What Colours Does the Sri Lankan Cricket Team Wear?

Test Cricket

In test cricket, the Sri Lankan players, like the players for every other team, wear cricket whites. If they are feeling cold, they can wear a white sweater with a dark blue V-neck. The national flag can be seen on the left side of the jumper, with the test cap number under it. When fielding, they will wear a deep blue cap or sunhat and the helmet they use while batting is a similar colour. The sponsor’s logo can be located on the right side of the t-shirt, while the Sri Lanka Cricket logo can be seen on the left side.

ODI and T20 Cricket

Sri Lanka’s limited over kits vary each year, but historically they are a shade of blue and golden yellow. When they are playing in ICC tournaments, the name of the country is written on the front of the shirt, with the sponsor’s logo being moved to the sleeve. When they are playing normal limited overs cricket, the national flag is on the left side of the shirt, the sponsor’s logo is on the left, and the name of the sponsors is spread out across the middle of the shirt.

Who Are Their Current Best Cricket Players?

Sri Lanka have produced some of the best players that the game has ever seen. However, we will now look at the talented players that are playing for them at this moment in time.

Lasith Malinga

Malinga has been playing for the national side since 2004 and he has gone on to become one of the best bowlers in limited overs cricket. He is the only bowler that has managed to pick up two World Cup hat-tricks, the only bowler to have three ODI hat-tricks, and the only bowler to take four wickets in four balls on two separate occasions. He was also the first bowler to pick up 100 wickets in T20 cricket. He retired from test cricket in 2010 in order to prolong his T20 and ODI career. In the 30 test matches that he played, he picked up 101 wickets at an average of 33.15. This included 3 5-wicket hauls. In the 226 ODIs that he has played, he has picked up 338 wickets at an average of 28.87. This has included 8 5-wicket hauls. In the 76 T20 matches that he has played, he has picked up 104 wickets at an average of 19.02 (2 5-wicket hauls). At the age of 36, he will retire soon, and the world of cricket will be worse for it.

Angelo Matthews

He made his debut back in 2008 and went on to become captain in all three formats of the game. He is classified as an all-rounder, but, as the stats below will show, he is more of a batsman that can deliver match-winning spells every now and then. In the 81 test matches that he has played, he has scored 5,641 runs (9 centuries and 34 half-centuries) at an average of 44.41. He has picked up 33 wickets at an average of 52.87. In the 213 ODI games that he has played, he has scored 5,725 runs (3 centuries and 39 half-centuries) at an average of 42.40. He has picked up 115 wickets at an average of 33.97 (1 5-wicket haul). In the 72 T20 matches that he has played, he has scored 1055 runs (a high score of 81*) at an average of 27.05.

Kusal Mendis

He played his first game for Sri Lanka in 2015 and the following year he was named as Sri Lanka’s Batsman of the Year. He is a talented right-handed batsman that bats at number three and clearly has a long international career ahead of him. He is just 24, but he has already played 40 tests for his country. In these 40 matches he has scored 2,754 runs (6 centuries and 10 half-centuries) at an average of 36.23. In the 73 ODI matches that he has played, he has scored 1,973 runs (1 century and 16 half-centuries) at average of 29.01. He has played 21 T20 matches and has scored 459 runs (highest score of 70) at an average of 21.85. These stats aren’t that impressive yet, but they will have improved drastically come the end of his cricketing career.

How Have Sri Lanka Performed at ICC Events?

If you are interested in finding out how Sri Lanka have performed at different ICC events over the years, then take a look at the tables below.

ICC Cricket World Cup

Year Round Position
1975 Group Stage 7/8
1979 Group Stage 5/8
1983 Group Stage 7/8
1987 Group Stage 7/8
1992 Group Stage 8/9
1996 Champions 1/8
1999 Group Stage 10/12
2003 Semi-finals 4/14
2007 Runners-up 2/16
2011 Runners-up 2/14
2015 Quarter-final 7/14
2019 Group Stage 6/9

ICC T20 World Cup

Year Round Position
2007 Super 8s 6/12
2009 Runners-up 2/12
2010 Semi-final 4/12
2012 Runners-up 2/16
2014 Champions 1/16
2016 Super 10 8/16

ICC Champions Trophy

Year Round Position
1998 Semi-final 4/9
2000 Quarter-finals 3/11
2002 Semi-final 3/12
2004 Group Stages 6/12
2006 Semi-final 3/10
2009 Group Stages 7/8
2013 Semi-final 4/8
2017 Group Stages 5/8

*This tournament was scrapped after the 2017 version as the ICC were not happy with having more than one major tournament for each format of the game.

Asia Cup

Year Round Position
1984 Runners-up 2/3
1986 Champions 1/3
1988 Runners-up 2/4
1990 Runners-up 2/3
1995 Runners-up 2/4
1997 Champions 1/4
2000 Runners-up 2/4
2004 Champions 1/6
2008 Champions 1/6
2010 Runners-up 1/4
2012 Group Stage 4/4
2014 Champions 1/5
2016 Group Stage 5/6
2018 Group Stage 6/6

How Have the Sri Lankan Cricket Team Performed Against Other Nations?

Want to find out how Sri Lanka has performed against other nations in world cricket? If so, take a look at the tables below.

Test Performances

Opponents Matches Played Won Lost Drawn Tied Win %
Australia 31 4 19 8 0 12.90
Bangladesh 20 16 1 3 0 80.00
England 34 8 15 11 0 23.52
India 44 7 20 17 0 15.90
New Zealand 36 9 16 11 0 25.00
Pakistan 53 16 19 18 0 30.18
South Africa 29 9 14 6 0 31.03
West Indies 20 9 4 7 0 45.00
Zimbabwe 18 13 0 5 0 72.22

ODI Performances

Opponents Matches Played Won Lost Tied No Result Win %
Afghanistan 4 3 1 0 0 75.00
Australia 97 32 61 0 4 34.40
Bangladesh 48 39 7 0 2 84.78
England 75 36 36 1 2 50.00
India 159 56 91 1 11 38.17
Ireland 4 4 0 0 0 100
New Zealand 99 41 49 1 8 45.60
Pakistan 155 58 92 1 4 38.74
South Africa 77 31 44 1 1 41.44
West Indies 57 26 28 0 3 48.14
Zimbabwe 57 44 11 0 2 80.00

T20 Performances

Opponents Matches Played WonLost TiedNo ResultWin %
Afghanistan 1 1 0 0 0 100
Australia 13 8 5 0 0 61.53
Bangladesh 11 7 4 0 0 63.63
England 9 4 5 0 0 44.44
India 16 5 11 0 0 31.25
Ireland 1 1 0 0 0 100
New Zealand 19 7 10 1 1 41.66
Pakistan 21 8 13 0 0 38.09
South Africa 13 5 7 1 0 42.30
West Indies 9 6 3 0 0 66.66
Zimbabwe 3 3 0 0 0 100

How Have Sri Lanka Been Getting on in International Cricket Lately?

After the 2019 World Cup, Sri Lanka played a three-match ODI series against Bangladesh at home. They won the series 3-0 thanks to three easy wins. They then welcomed New Zealand for two tests and three T20 matches. The test series was drawn 1-1, while the visitors won the T20 series 2-1. At the end of September and the beginning of October, Sri Lanka welcomed Pakistan for three ODI matches and three T20 matches. Pakistan won the ODI series 2-0 (the first match was abandoned), while Sri Lanka won the T20 series 3-0. At the end of October, they will tour Australia for three T20 matches, and they will then tour India at the beginning of next year to play three T20 matches.