Percy Abeysekera
Percy Abeysekera

Although Percy Abeysekera cheered many a match, his first catch was Melani from Moratuwa. Percy was then 32yrs and Melani was 16yrs and this could easily be Percy’s biggest catch one wonders whether Percy had a flag in hand then? They were married for 43 years with a son and a daughter and three grandsons and one granddaughter.

He mentioned that his roots were in Balapitiya.”When he was small he was in Galle” rhymed Percy. His father was a Principal at a college in Boosa and his mother was the head mistress of the same school. All his five siblings have expired and Percy is the only survivor. At 82 years of age he looked” fit as a fiddle. ”Percy noted that he had two reasons for him to be fit; of which one was walking and not smoking and the other was dancing, and more of that later at the Hut, Margarita Blue and R&B.

Percy initially schooled at Richmond and then switched over to St Aloysius Galle where they had a prefects only for discipline and their sole duty was caning, Percy insisted that this should be a must in schools now due to the deterioration in discipline and also the values in the present generation. It is an unfortunate state of affairs that the discipline has gone down the drain at present. Discipline and values were inculcated into Percy’s life from younger days and he is still respected by Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda De Silva and a host of other famous cricketers both from home and abroad. Percy could almost be termed a cult figure amongst his fellow cheer leaders. They all bring cheer and gaiety to the proceedings in fact Percy’s father had a cane in hand as a teacher. Percy also studied at the Aquinas University College Colombo where he was aspiring to become a lawyer when he gave up his studies for Cricket.

He named his son as Garfield Sampath after Sir Garfield and Percy was born within a few days of each other and his two grandsons from his son are named as Avinka Garfield and Sachin Garfield. Garfield Sampath Abeysekera who has served ACL (ASSOCIATED CABLES LTD) for 25 years is also the sole founder and inventor of “fire guard” cable which is the first ever and only fire proof cable sheath made in Sri Lanka even to date. It’s his expertise meant ACL get a superior product of that quality. Percy himself has clocked 58 years at ACL and prior to that at AMW (Associated Motorways ) for 20 years from 1961 to 1981. At present he is the Public Relations consultant at ACL Cables Plc. Percy was the first Cricket captain of AMW in 1968. Under his captaincy Percy took his team and company upto the finals, which is a record unmatched by any other at ACL upto present.

Percy has a sister who taught at D.S.Senanayake Vidyalya Colombo 7 and Aravinda De Silva was one of her pupils. His other sister Shreemathie was an English teacher at Musaeus College Colombo 07. At present Percy’s daughter Nadeesha is a teacher at S. Thomas’ primary Mt Lavinia and coincidentally Aravinda’s son is her pupil. His two sisters in law’s are married to two Englishmen from Kent. His love for the game started when he was a 10 year old. His hobby was collecting cricket pictures and gradually got obsessed with cricket and when he was 12 years old his two elder brothers gave him a treat by taking him to watch Late Sir Donald Bradman’s all conquering Australians at the P. Sara Oval. It was a long and arduous journey noted Percy, they had to come in the train from Galle to Maradana and had to leg it all the way from Maradana to Wanathamulla which was quite a distance. It was a one day match and the gate charges were 25 cents those who were watching the match from the trees also had a price structure and 5 cents for the lower branches and 10 cents for the upper branches. It was a full house Percy noted and when Sir Donald Bradman and Mahadevan Sathasivam walked out to toss, Bradman realised that something was wrong with the pitch length and asked the ground staff to measure it and they found out that it was 20 yards instead of 22 yards which is the standard length,

Percy reminisced that there was a word going around that this was done purposely to get Bradman out, anyhow after the correction the match got underway. This match was in 1948, the year Sri Lanka got independence from the British . There were many Sri Lankan flags all over the ground to mark the independence. Hence, Percy also took a Sri Lankan flag to his hand and with the joy of independence he started waving the flag, and the flag has been a part and parcel all his life ever since then. If Percy remembers right the Australians were 240 for 7.Bradman got only 20 runs and he was caught by R.L. De Kretser off the bowling of late B.R.Heyn (Father of David Heyn who played for Sri Lanka later on). After lunch Ceylon were 40 for 2 when the rains came and stopped the match and play was abandoned. That was the first International match Percy witnessed. He met Sir Donald Bradman much later in Australia but lamented that he could not take a photograph with him.

Percy was a handy right arm off spinner and a capable left hand bat at St Aloysius Galle, he represented the under 13, 15 and 17 teams and his House was called Standaert House. Irrespective of whether he played or not he was compelled to wave the house flag, Percy stated that the muscles on both his hands and shoulders developed for that purpose and now it’s an effortless exercise not only that he has a rhythmic hip swing to go with it.

(to be continued) 


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