Roshan Mahanama saluted by Cricket Australia at end of illustrious career in Elite panel of ICC match referees By Sunil Thenabadu.

Roshan Mahanama  saluted by Cricket Australia at end of illustrious career in Elite panel of ICC match referees By Sunil Thenabadu. 

Roshan Mahanama saluted by Cricket Australia at end of illustrious career in Elite panel of ICC match referees


ST Jayasuriya, RS Mahanama  576  2nd  Sri Lanka  v India  Colombo (RPS)  2 Aug 1997  Test # 1374 
AH Jones, MD Crowe  467  3rd  New Zealand  v Sri Lanka  Wellington  31 Jan 1991  Test # 1162 
WH Ponsford, DG Bradman  451  2nd  Australia  v England  The Oval  18 Aug 1934  Test # 237 


The International Cricket Council (ICC) had  announced that Roshan Mahanama will stride down from the Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees at the end of the year. Roshan was appropriately honoured nominated to referee in the three Test series between hosts Australia and visiting New Zealand teams. 

Mahanama had joined the elite panel in 2004 and has refereed in 58 Tests, 222 ODIs and 35, T20Is to date, including refereeing in three ICC Cricket World Cups 2007, 2011,2015 and the ICC Champions Trophy 2009. He has made the option to step down six months ahead of the extinction of his contract so that he can dissipate additional point in time with his family and also spotlight on the augmentation of his commerce behaviour in Sri Lanka. 

Roshan Mahanama 49 years old, had commented that this has been an immensely intricate resolution as he is very obsessive about cricket, which has been an imperative element of his life for over 40 years as a cricketer, coach and ICC match referee. 

He had added in life an instance comes when one has to keep moving forward based on obligations and priorities. My moment has come to allocate an incessant spotlight and concentration to my family, who made gigantic sacrifices over the years to facilitate me to pursue my livelihood for over three decades. 

Roshan Mahanama saluted by Cricket Australia at end of illustrious career in Elite panel of ICC match referees

The route for approximately 12 years as an ICC match referee has been astounding and somewhat for him to divulge upon with delight and contentment. He has had the ecstasy of congregating and executing with some stupendous professionals, refereed at some splendid matches and visited some unbelievable places the length all the way. 

Roshan in his announcement in classify to show gratitude to the ICC and Sri Lanka Cricket for affording him the prospect to be implicated in almost 600 internationals of the game he so overpoweringly discovers irresistible! 

Roshan Mahanama saluted by Cricket Australia at end of illustrious career in Elite panel of ICC match referees“He had added that he can in no way disregard to testimony for the gratitude of the prop up and backing presented to him by all his preceding and existing contemporaries. A big garland was sent to all the ICC staff and Members for the kind courtesies extended. For Roshan it has been nothing less than a opportunity and a contentment to work with such a breathtaking cluster of human beings over the years. 

As a cricketer, Mahanama had represented Sri Lanka in 52 Tests and 213 One-Day Internationals from 1986 to 1999. He played in four ICC Cricket World Cups and was a Member of the Sri Lanka side that triumphed over Australia in the 1996 final in Lahore. He also had captained Sri Lanka in two One-Day Internationals. 

ICC General Manager – Cricket, Geoff Allardice, had acknowledged his announcement and had thanked Mahanama for his offerings made as a match referee: “Roshan has been one of the pioneer members of the elite panel and had been an integral element during the fragment when the Referee’s position was sprouting. 

Roshan, very efficiently and intelligently, integrated his cricketing knowledge into match management skills to earn huge respect and appreciation from the entire cricketing fraternity. On behalf of the ICC, had congratulated him on a successful career as a match referee wishing him well in his future endeavours”. 


Roshan Mahanama has been deservedly rewarded by cricket’s highest governing body, the International Cricket Council by appointing him as a new ICC match referee in year 2004. Roshan’s exit from international cricket was basically owing to very pathetic reasons. He tendered his letter of resignation dated 6 August 1999 to the Chairman of the Interim Committee of the then BCCSL after he was dropped (axed) from both Tests and ODI sides,barely not even before one year had lapsed after his world record breaking ‘Kettarama triumph’.  This drastic decision to quit cricket was taken through immense agony, pain of mind and after much deliberation in consultation with his family members and coach Nelson Mendis. The reason was for rattling him due to the injustices meted out by a selection system riddled by white ants. This gamble of retiring ‘hurt’ abruptly soon became a triumph as he is now one the leading and respected ICC’s match referees of the ICC since he first officiated in Test Match between the West Indies and Bangladesh in Gros Islet, in St Lucia, West Indies in the month of May 2004. 

 Roshan Mahanama our proud ‘match referee’ of the ICC has officiated in 56 Tests, 216 One Day Internationals and 31 T/20 International matches. It is pertinent to mention that that to date he had performed in this respected field without blemish which indeed has helped to further enhance our prevalent cricketing image to unprecedented heights during the past decade. Incidentally Roshan has more international matches as ICC Match Referee than the number of International matches he had represented Sri Lanka. Truly wonderful feeling for a cricketer who prematurely bid goodbye ‘retired hurt’. He has now officiated in 303 in all three formats of the game and only our own ICC Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalla (527), Chris Broad (384) and Jeff Crowe ( 332) have officiated in more matches It is an incredible achievement indeed for been in the Elite panel of the ICC’s match referees. . 

While at the pinnacle of his illustrious career after playing 12 years for Sri Lanka his decision was taken boldly without hesitating further. The decision was of course a tough one.  But on principle Roshan, is a calm, collected and composed person thought “Enough was enough”.  He had no regrets for this colossal decision taken for the injustice meted out to him.  He never played for personal glory; always it was for the team and country.  His motto was always “country before self”.  

Like many youngsters Roshan too had a tremendous passion for playing softball cricket on streets and by lanes after coming home from school. His cricketing career at his ‘alma mater’, Nalanda College commenced even before he became a teenager.  His coach throughout was Nelson Mendis from the under 12-stage up to the 1st XI who groomed and nurtured him to become an accomplished cricketer.  Roshan may have acquired cricketing instincts from his father, the famous Upali Mahanama, a member of the Nalanda 1st XI team, who later represented clubs with distinction, who had captained Bloomfield C&AC and Company teams in mercantile tournaments.  He was the President of the MCA for 3 years and Association of Cricket Umpires of Sri Lanka for seven years in a person well known in cricketing and business circles.  

 After excelling and captaining the junior teams, Roshan captained the College 1st XI team in 1984. In the annual big match against Ananda he made a defiant knock of 145 n.o. made in five and a half hours breaking all previous records in the annals of history in  Ananda-Nalanda famous ‘big matches’.  This record stood for 14 long years until; Shantha Kalavitigoda eclipsed it in 1998. 

Roshan was named the Bata Schoolboy Cricketer of the year in 1983 adjudicated by an expert panel of judges.  He was once again crowned the Bata Schoolboy Cricketer of the year 1984, a rare and unique achievement for a schoolboy cricketer. The readers of a leading Sunday English paper, ‘Sunday Observer’, also voted the most popular cricketer of the year 1984.  Roshan was also voted as the best schoolboy fielder in that particular year.  

Roshan made his Test debut when he was just 20 years old against Pakistan in 1986 on home soil.  When he quit he had played in 52 tests and 213 ODI’s and held over 100 catches in tests.  He was the only the 4th fieldsman in the annals of test cricket history to have held 100 catches, after cricketing legends Mohamed Azurudeen, Allan Border and Viv Richards. Roshan was such an extraordinary brilliant fielder, who could field at any position.  He should have been picked for his fielding prowess only, even if his batting was ordinary.  

Out of Roshan’s numerous match- winning contributions, with the bat the world record partnership of 576 runs for the 2nd wicket, stands tall as the highest for any wicket in the annals of the long test cricket history, partnering his closest ‘Pal’ then, Sanath Jayasuriya, against India in the latter part of the year 1997, at the (RPS) Kettarama Stadium remains unparalleled. His 225 runs, was an epic feat of endurance having batted for 753 minutes, for over 2 days.  This record partnership eclipsed many world records and Roshan should be definitely contended with these records. After this epic feat a local newspaper hailed, applauded and acclaimed the duo. The sports editor of The Sunday Leader Gamini Senadhira published that these records have been ‘tattooed in gold letters in test record statistics having little doubt of being broken, may be forever’. This highest partnership surpassed the previous best for any wicket in tests 467 runs held by A.H.Jones and M.D Crowe of New Zealand against Sri Lanka in the year 1991.The achievement of Roshan Mahanama and Sanath Jayasuriya is worth recalling and remembering over and over again. However this record was beaten by Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara another Sri Lankan duo in the year 2006, nine years later against South Africa. 

The partnership between Roshan Mahanama and Sanath Jayasuriya also helped Sri Lanka to surpass the highest test total of 903 for 7 wickets, made by England against Australia well over 50 years ago at the Oval in London.  

Greg Chappell a celebrated Australian cricketer, and a past captain, an idol of Roshan has quipped in his “Foreword” in Roshan’s book ‘Retired Hurt’, that he is one of the few genuine nice people in the game and while performing in the media role was fortunate enough to view many of his great innings including his 225 at Kettarama stadium, where he had seen every ball of his knock. Greg Chappell had commented that he possesses strokes all-round the wicket playing often with those wristy shots, so characteristic of cricketers in the sub-continent.  The record partnership was a triumph of talent, technique and mental ability so strong to go so far.  The mental and physical concentration, it takes to bat through a day in humid conditions in the sub-continent is enormous. To bat through over two days was indeed a unique achievement.  

The officials of the ICC have appropriately chosen Roshan to be an ideal candidate for a post of match referee having, knowledge of cricket in abundance and with his command of English it may have made his appointment initially, quite obvious. The writer believes he has been justifiably rewarded for his proven abilities and credentials. For Roshan, the gentleman cricketer may have already received enough and more accolades and reverences in plenty from many quarters in the game of cricket. The entire cricketing fraternity would wish him a fruitful family life.  


Sunil Thenabadu 

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