A versatile cricketer | Daily News
Lalith Senanayake

A versatile cricketer

I was sad to hear about the death of Lalith Senanayake; who played with me in the Royal College First XI cricket team in 1958, 1959 and 1960, under the captaincy of Lorenze Perera, Sarath Samrasinghe and Michael Dias; a few weeks ago.

Lalith was the head prefect of the school, which was the highest position a boy could achieve at Royal College. His brother Nanda, too, later became the head prefect of the college. Lalith became a prefect because he was a house captain, and also because of his achievements in hockey and cricket.

In the three seasons he played, Lalith performed well in the Royal-Thomian Matches 1958, 1959, 1960. In the 1958 match, S. Thomas' scored 192 runs in the first innings, to which Royal replied with 245 runs. Lalith scored 56 runs. At the end of the second innings, the Thomians were at 104 for 4 wickets and the match was drawn.

In the 1960 Royal-Thomian match, Royal scored 157 runs in the first innings with Lalith getting 47 runs. In the second innings, Royal was at 194 for 5 wickets, and Lalith had scored 69 runs. That match was drawn as well.

In addition, he scored a half century against Trinity and 40-odd against St. Joseph's at Reid Avenue in 1959. Royal won by an innings with bags of time to spare. The following day, the Daily News described this innings as 'a gem worth going a long way to witness'.

Lalith scored most of his runs quite attractively. The Royal College team, under Sarath Samarasinghe during that season, was easily the best team in the school's history; recording five wins, of which four were by an innings in nine First XI team matches.

Lalith did also bowl medium-pace first-change after I opened bowling with Harsha Samarajeewa. Incidentally, today, Harsha is one of the leading general physicians in the country. During that time, the First XI matches used to begin at 12 noon, on Fridays and Saturdays. On Fridays, the team was off from school by 10.30am. Some of us used to go to Lalith's house for lunch before reporting to the grounds before 12 noon, as he lived at Red Avenue near the school.

I remember how well we were treated by his parents whenever we went there for lunch. Another place was used to go for lunch was Michael Dias' house. After his school days were over, Lalith joined the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) and played a few Sara trophy matches. I remember I played against Lalith during such a trophy match at the SSC playgrounds, in 1963. Lalith scored 30-odd runs that day before the match was drawn. May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana!

Daya Sahabandu



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