Keerthi Ranasinghe-ex-Nalandian cricketer cum basketball player | Daily News


Keerthi Ranasinghe-ex-Nalandian cricketer cum basketball player

Keerthi Ranasinghe
Keerthi Ranasinghe

His father was the first cricket captain of Christian College Kotte(now known as Sri Jayawardenepura Maha Vidyalaya) in 1919. He and his elder brother were boarded at this famous old school, which had the best hostel in that era and the Principal was E.D. Thambimuttu and a few other distinguished educationists. The proper etiquette was instilled into young Keerthi Ranasinghe from his early days.

He was a versatile sportsman, a basketball player of no mean repute who represented both Sri Jayawardenepura and Nalanda College and a handy opening bat who played for Nalanda and Colombo North in the zonal tournaments.

I met Keerthi at a function to felicitate the famous coaching guru Nelson Mendis, and his mannerisms stood apart from the rest of us, I wondered whether it was his early upbringing at Christian College Kotte , which laid the foundation to this gentle character. He left our shores early and worked in the middle east for forty long ears as a Telecom Engineer.

Ranasinghe was a good basketball player even at the age of 12 yrs. His hand eye coordination was such that, he took to the game of cricket with ease. He played for the first eleven and got two centuries, against Piliyandala Central and Dharmasoka Ambalangoda. Late Gerry Gooneratne was coaching Christian College and Nalanda College. Meanwhile his shooting capacity was spotted by Late Gunapala Wickremaratne the principal at Ananda Sastralaya then,as a result Keerthi was recommended to Nalanda College and was drafted into the Nalanda College first eleven in 1966. As a fresher that year he got a 50 against St Thomas’s out of a total of 140,Keerthi had to encounter a star studded bowling line up together with the sideways breeze which was a nuisance.

The Big Match that year is etched in my memory due to two significant things, one was that I captained Ananda and the other was that I trapped their king pin at that time Late Anura De Silva into popping a catch to the covers, he was 99. Keerthi was involved in a fifty run partnership with Doolwela, Keerthi’s contribution was a brisk 22, in the second innings he was unfortunately yorked by a brilliant yorker from Late P. Dayapriya.

In the inter zonal tournament in 1966, Keerthi opened with Felix Dias and his contribution was 21, where as Dias hammered 134. In the same year Colombo North against Central Zone Ranasinghe’s useful contribution was 37.

After his school career he joined Post and Telecommunications Department and in a game against Department of Heavy Equipment and Machinery, Ranasinghe whacked 192 runs enabling Telecom to win by an innings and 124 runs, this was in 1978 January.

Sports writer ‘SEA ROM’ wrote to the ‘Daily Mirror’ under the caption ‘go man go’ in 1966, He stated that Gratian Amerasinghe a former coach of Sri Jayawardenepura ,mentioned that he had high hopes on young Ranasinghe to prop up the underdogs Nalanda in the Public Schools Senior Basketball Tournament.

Keerthi made some interesting comparisons of Two Anura’s, De Silva and Ranasinghe.Keerthi stated that Late Anura De Silva was a class apart as an All Rounder and it was rather unfortunate that he had to curtail his career. According to Keerthi ,Anura Ranasinghe was the more disciplined of the two and his talent as an all -rounder was not far behind De Silva.

Fast forwarding to the current affairs in Cricket, Keerthi agreed that there was no dearth in talent but hiccups occur at the best of times. He was away from Nalanda cricket activities for about 30 years due to his work s a Telecom Engineer, on his return to the island he is back in action being a member of several cricket committees at Nalanda.

Keerthi mentioned that he was invited recently when Nalanda recruited a new coach, and the others in that committee were Jayantha Seneviratne, Roshan Mahanama,Asanka Gurusinghe and Bandula Warnapura.

He was also the cricket secretary of The Old Nalandians Sports Club.

Ranasinghe lives with his wife at Kelaniya and has two daughters and one son, who went to St Josephs. It was a pleasure interviewing Keerthi Ranasinghe a man of gentle demeanor.

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