Some Australia V Sri Lanka ODI history

Sri Lankas performance in the recent tri- nation ODI seres brought back memories of their first tri-nation ODI series in 1984-85. The third nation then was the West Indies.

Australian cricket at the time was struggling. The end of the previous summer saw the retirement of the Big 3, Chappell G, Marsh, and Lillee. This was followed by a tour of the Caribean where we lost 3-0, then back home to face the West Indies, which resulted in us losing the first three tests, but regaining some pride in the final two, with a fighting draw in the fourth, then victory at the SCG in the fifth. That series sawthe demise of then Captain Kim Hughes, whose tearful departure after the second test was an ingnominous end to his international career.

Come the tri-nation ODI series. Unsuprisingly the West Indies won the tournament, winning all 10 qualifying matches, though they lost the first final to Australia prior to bouncing back, winning the other two finals.

Sri Lanka won only one match in the tournament, but what a win it was. It was at the MCG on Saturday January 19. Australia batted first with the two W’s opening, Wood and Wessels. They got off to a solid start puting on 68, but from there the wheels fell off. The only other decent contribution came from another W, Wayne Philips, the wicket keeper who weighed in with 67, Australia finished its 50 overs with 9-226. The best of the Sri Lankans was medium pacer, R J Ratnayake whose 10 overs netted him 4-37. This includedboth openers, netting him the man of the match award. Was Australias’ score enough ?

No it wasn’t, as the Sri Lankans came home with 4 balls to spare. P A De Silva hiting the young Craig McDermott for six off the second ball of the final over. Australias attack of McDermott, Lawson, Hogg, O’Donnell, Bennett and the slow left armers of Keppler Wessels not being able to control the visitors. The Sri Lankans, with good reason, celebrated a meritorious first win on Australian soil.

Fast forward 27 years later,and they came oh so close to claiming their first tri-nations tournament. It has been a good summer of cricket, and their role in it should be celebrated, so i thought it would be good to touch back on their first ODI win in Australia, way back in the halcyon 80’s.

Happy Labour Day weekend almanacers, and remember what this weekend stands for, and how it was achieved.



  1. Mic Rees says:

    Happy LD to you Glen.

    Is that the summer the lights went up at the MCG? Up in time for the One day championship (not to be confused with the World Cup).

    Hopefully the game played 19/1 will appear in the “One Day Classics” series on pay TV soon.


  2. Spot on MIchael, the lights were installed for a ‘World Championship’, was that the title? Robbie Kerr the Queensland opener played a great knock in our first game which i think was a 7 wicket victory over the British. Then, if the memory serves me right, Wasim Akram announced him self onto the international stage, running through our batting in the following match. I have a vague recollection India played Pakistan in the final. Though, as i don’t have a Wisden at hand, this is basically speculation, though hopefully right.

  3. Skip of Skipton says:

    I was at that Sri Lanka victory in 84/85. A very young Aravinda Da Silva top edged it over the keepers head for a six. It was meant to be a pull-shot.
    What I remember was plenty of people in the crowd cheering them when they got up. They were a fairly ordinary unit (it was only early days in international cricket) and genuine underdogs. Rumesh Ratanayeke had curly hair and used to wear a white headband. He was a very good bowler who swung it both ways.

  4. Skip of Skipton says:

    The World Championship of Cricket was held to mark Victoria’s sesqui-centenary. It was just after the said tri-nations tournament. Maybe Feb/March 1985. It was the first time the lights got used. India beat Pakistan in the final. I was there with a group of around 10 mates. We were all 16/17 years old, and I might of consumed eight or nine VB cans so the memory is vague.

    Soon after, the first Friday night home and away match was played between North Melbourne and Collingwood. It was Brian Taylor’s first game for the ‘pies.

  5. Michael Parker says:

    Weren’t the Sri Lankans been great this summer? They breathed some much needed life into the one day format and this particular summer after the indians were a big flop. Was great to see

  6. craig dodson says:

    I recall the Mcdonalds cricket poster with all 3 teams from that summer adjourninig my bedroom wall for 15 years, in the end the more sledging i got to take it down the more my resiliance grew.

  7. James Grapsas says:

    Great article Glen. The Sri Lankans left their impact in the 1984/85 season against the West Indies in the World Championship of Cricket. Rumesh Ratnayake leaving the helmetless Richie Richardson and Larry Gomes bruised and bloodied with some bouncers. Something that Lawson, Hogg, McDermott, Alderman, Rackemann, McCurdy and company did not come close to doing all of that summer!

    On a minor note, Kepler Wessels bowled his slow-mediums with his right arm, despite the fact that he batted left-handed.

    Craig – great to hear about the McDonald’s poster. I used to get them as well in the early- to mid-1980s. If I remember correctly, the 1984/85 picture of the Australians had some players who did not play much one-day cricket for Australia and who were mainly Test players: Bob Holland, Murray Bennett and Andrew Hilditch.

    Great memories.

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