Tillakaratne Dilshan had made the 2009 T20 World Cup his own, aggregating more runs than anyone in the tournament. The striking feature of his batting was the Dilscoop – a ramp over the wicketkeeper’s head, which would later become a go-to stroke in limited-overs cricket.
Since the inception of Twenty20 cricket we’ve seen some outlandish additions to the shotmaker’s arsenal. Kevin Pietersen turned himself into a left-hander, Eoin Morgan turned himself inside out and MS Dhoni helicoptered himself off his feet – all calculated attempts to overcome the combination of ever-evolving bowling and stifling field placements.
In 2009, at the World T20 in England, Tillakaratne Dilshan added his name to the list of cricket’s out-of-the-box thinkers and in doing so defined a tournament, brought a unique shot to the world’s attention and added a new word to the cricketing lexicon.
Australia were the opponents for Sri Lanka’s first game of the tournament. Dilshan’s score was 46 and unbeknownst to everyone around him he was about to reveal his trump card, the Dilscoop.
Like a poker player about to unveil his winning hand, Dilshan provided little indication of what was to come – even offering a mock survey of the field in front of square as a final bluff; his thoughts, in reality, were concentrated on the empty space directly behind him.
As Watson trundled up to the wicket Dilshan shuffled across to a position outside his off-stump: unconventional maybe, but not yet groundbreaking. What followed was revolutionary, as he crouched down and positioned himself inside and under the ball before flaying it over the head of the Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
— Sri Lanka Tweet ?? (@SriLankaTweet) October 14, 2019
The aghast stumper gave a half-hearted chase but was a spectator as the ball scooped up and away, taking a couple of bounces before racing across the rope. Fifty up and the gauntlet laid down: there is nowhere that I can’t hit you.
The shot was infectious, a revelation, and it is now firmly part of the game. It may not have been invented by Dilshan (Aussie keeper-batsman turned Hong Kong batting coach Ryan Campbell perhaps lays the strongest claim to being the first) but it has become his thing. It won’t be found in an MCC coaching manual but the Dilscoop arrived that day back in 2009 and it’s not going anywhere for some time yet.
First published in June 2014.