The Marvan Atapattu – Tale of being zero to hero

It’s the saga of former Sri Lankan captain Marvan Atapattu, a story that India’s most loved cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle loves to recite, over and over again.

What if We fail for 2-3 years back to back in our domain? Simple answer…We will try to shift our focus to something new where we can tag our names. Agreed?


There is a man who failed for SIX years, yes you heard it right…not one, not two exact six years.


23-27 November 1990,

Indian were playing there one and only test match against Sri Lanka at  Sector 16 Stadium, Chandigarh. Sri Lanka opted to try their bench strength by giving chance to a new player, he received test cap (no. 46) from his then captain A Ranatunga.

Sri Lanka were struggling with 54/5, debutant entered at #7 and took no time to went back to the pavilion, gone for a duck in his very first innings. Lanka were bowled out for a paltry 82. Debutant got yet another chance to bat in the same match and guess what happened this time???

ZERO again. Phew!

This debutant is Marvan Atapattu.

Who is Marvan Atapattu?

Marvan Atapattu is a former Sri Lankan cricketer and captain, who played Tests and ODIs for seventeen years for Sri Lanka. Atapattu, made his Test debut on 23 November 1990 against India in a one-off Test at Sector 16 Stadium, Chandigarh.

Who is Marvan Atapattu

Did you know?

His full name is Deshabandu Marvan Samson Atapattu. He has coached Canada and Singapore national cricket teams. From April 2014 to September  2015, he was the Head Coach of Sri Lankan Cricket Team.

Zero to Hero tootling

After getting two consecutive ducks, Atapattu went to the nets for more practice. More first-class cricket. More runs in his bucket. Waiting for that elusive call…

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

This time he was pretty confident to perform well as he piled on runs in first-class games. Sadly his scores: 0 in the first innings, 1 in the second and Dropped again, he went back to the grind.

And yet again he scored tonnes of runs in first-class cricket. Runs that seemed inadequate to erase the painful memories of the Test failures.

Read: Indian cricket team’s skipper Virat Kohli’s story

Well right after seventeen months opportunity knocked again. Marvan got to bat in both innings of the Test. His scores: 0 and 0. Oh god!!!

Back to the grind. Worked harder and harder on his batting technique.

Three years later, he got another chance. Yes, this time, he made runs. Tiger roared in delight and that was the dawn of new legend. In an illustrious career thereafter, Marvan went on to score over 5000 runs for Sri Lanka. That included sixteen centuries and six double hundreds. He’s now known for his uncanny ability to score double centuries than his zeros. Only the great Don Bradman (12), Wally Hammond and Brian Lara (7) have been better than Marvan Atapattu in scoring double centuries. Marvan Atapattu Out

Marvan went on to captain his country during 2004-2006 span. All this despite taking over six years to score his second run in Test cricket. Wow! What a guy!

Final words

How many of us can handle the failure this man faced for 6 years? 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.

The next time when failure knocks your door, think of Marvan. Never give up. Never, never give up!!!

Check out the video to know more about Marvan Atapattu’s inspiring story of failure:


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