The rare honour of Rahul Wijeratne captaining the prestigious Harrow School at cricket during the 2017 English season has not gone unnoticed.
S Skandakumar, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Australia writes to reveal that it is 50 years ago that the first Sri Lankan had the honour of captaining Harrow. He was none other than Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy, the present Central Bank Governor. Skandakumar writes: “What a fine achievement......FIFTY years after the first ever to do so! Our own Central Bank Governor Dr Indrajith Coomaraswamy! No surprise that we have such a straight Bat driving that revered Institution!! SS”
Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy (captain of Harrow School 1967, 1968)
“I am extremely proud for that boy Rahul nothing should be taken away from his achievement,” Dr Coomaraswamy told the Daily News. “It’s a tremendous achievement to captain Harrow let alone play for them. This boy has also captained the Middlesex under 17 side so he must be an outstanding cricketer.”
Dr Coomaraswamy captained Harrow at cricket in 1967 and 1968 and he also played rugby for them.
“I happened to go to Harrow School because my father who was abroad in the US wanted me to get a British education,” said Dr Coomaraswamy. “I was 13 when I entered Harrow and the main incentive for playing cricket is that you get an opportunity to play at Lord’s.”
Dr Coomaraswamy said that he played in the prestigious Eton v Harrow annual cricket encounter at Lord’s for four years.
“The first year I played in 1965 we won. The next two years we drew and in 1968 my final year as captain we won again. Winning this celebrated fixture against Eton was the sporting highlight of my career,” said Dr Coomaraswamy.
“I played as a slow left-arm bowler and in my first year I batted at number 11. By the time I captained I had moved to number five. I took quite a number of wickets the year we won,” he said.
In fact Dr. Coomaraswamy led Harrow from the front in 1968 finishing with match figures of 12 wickets for 92 runs taking 7 for 42 in Eton’s first innings of 210 and 5 for 50 when they were dismissed for 141 in the second. Harrow made 260 (Coomaraswamy 34) and 92-3 to win by seven wickets with 15 minutes to spare.
In his first year as captain in 1967 Harrow narrowly escaped defeat clinging onto a draw at 151-7 after being set a target of 219. Dr Coomaraswamy held four catches in the Eton first innings of 274-6 decIared and took two wickets for 18 in the second innings.
Dr Coomaraswamy stated that the time he joined Harrow there were only a few foreign students attending unlike today where there are many.
“There have been several Sri Lankans who have been to Harrow and played cricket. Two Wijeratne boys (Sachin and Rahul) played together in one year (2015) which is unique.
“There is also another younger brother whom I think will make the grade soon,” said Dr Coomaraswamy who had a distinguished career in sports playing cricket for Royal College and Tamil Union and, rugby for CR&FC and also captaining the Sri Lanka team in the 1974 Rugby Asiad.