‘Sam’ a veteran cricket analyst, strategist and team motivator | Daily News

‘Sam’ a veteran cricket analyst, strategist and team motivator

I had the good fortune of meeting a highly qualified finance professional with nearly 4 decades of post qualifying experience in both Sri Lanka and abroad quite by chance in a restaurant by the side of Havelock Road. He has been an ardent fan of the local and international cricket scene from 1963 todate. He was none other than Sam Samaranayake, a senior chartered accountant and a corporate trainer in many fields of industry and commerce.

Sam was an old Anandian who entered Ananda in 1959 (Tram cars and Trolley bus days) and left school in 1973. Although he did not play cricket at Ananda, he used to visit the Campbell Place grounds to watch almost all home matches of the Ananda senior team. Those days matches started at 12 noon and had a milk interval from 1.50 p.m. to 2 p.m. and a tea break from 3.45 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Sam has been following Ananda cricket from the time of captain Yatagama Amaradasa and was full of praise for other captains, namely, Sarath Wimalaratne, Duminda Siriwardene, big match winning captain A.G. Perera, Tilak de Silva, Lalith Guneratne, Sunil Wettimuny, Sanjeeva Senanayake, Mithra Wettimuny and his class mate H.D.K. Subash. He has compiled comprehensive data bases on Ananda cricket. Sam was also very happy to watch four of his classmates performing for Ananda senior team, namely, Lalith Ranatunge, H.D.K. Subash, Lakshman (Darrel) Piyasena and Mahesh de Zoysa.

His contribution to Ananda cricket started in August 2005 when former Ananda, Police, SSC and BRC cricketer Udaya Ananda Perera took over as the First Eleven coach of Ananda from Anuruddha Polonowita. Sam knew Udaya well since Udaya’s brother Maithri was his class mate. Sam visited the college grounds on the first day of practices for 2005/6 season and assessed the strength of the team and informed Udaya accordingly. Udaya promptly requested Sam to make use of his professional talents and vast knowledge 0f cricket to uplift the team morale and to make them a winning outfit. Sam had a close tab on the progress of Ananda cricket and agreed to spend time with the team at practices and matches since Ananda was unable to win the schools’ limited overs title since 2000.

Sam planned out effective strategies with the coach and team captain and as a result, Ananda became the holders of the limited overs crown on 9 April 2006 by beating the much stronger Peterite side coached by Roger Wijesuriya. Ananda got 190 runs whereas St Peter’s were bundled out for 140. The Peterites came to the final by beating their arch rivals Joes. Joes had the services of present national players Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne and Roshen Silva. Peterites were firm favourites to win the title under Hans Fernando. However, Sam, Udaya and skipper Chathura Herath mapped out perfect strategies and talked to the players at a meeting and took away their fear psychosis prior to the match since the players were well aware of the might of the Peterites. The average age of that Ananda team was 16 plus. On Sunday 9 April 2006 the highly motivated Ananda team turned tables on the Peterites to win the Lemonade trophy (school’s limited overs title) by registering a very comfortable win by 59 runs. So Ananda became champions again after a lapse of five years. In 2005/6 season Ananda also won the best fielder’s award in schools for captain Chathura Herath, stated Sam.

Sam was rewarded for his contributions and was appointed as the treasurer of the Old Anandians Cricket Wing in June 2006 to continue his assistance to Ananda Cricket. Sam and coach Udaya combined effectively again to beat Royal College, Colombo in cricket after 47 long years. Ananda recorded an innings victory over Royal in their own den at Reid Avenue on 27 January 2007. The wreckers of the Royalists were skipper Malith Gunathilaka and Udara Pieris spinning a vicious web around them. Prabodha Seneviratne top scored with 90 runs for Ananda. In the 2006/7 season skipper Malith Gunathilaka also won the awards of Schoolboy cricketer, Best Allrounder, Best Bowler and the Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer. Ananda also reached the quarterfinal of the Lemonade trophy and lost to Moratuwa Sebastianites by just 4 runs. This was mainly due to the non-availability of one their opening batsmen and a good pace bowler, noted Sam. With a new coach taking over Ananda cricket for 2007/8, Sam opted to continue his practice and corporate training and has written nearly 50 full pages of business/sports articles in English dailies during the past two years which are of very useful practical knowledge to the corporate executives. He wished to contribute to a book on “Golden Memories” of Ananda cricket in line with the 90th big match next year together with a select band of past Ananda and Nalanda cricketers. Sam will be an asset to any cricketing organization or any team as I deduced from the few conversations that I had with him.

 


 

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