Excellent school cricketers in an era gone by | Daily News


Excellent school cricketers in an era gone by

Yes absence makes the heart grow fonder! Millions of cricket fans have been missing the school cricket season. Gone off the radar or into hibernation with the arrival of the dreaded covid-19. Hopefully with the reopening of schools on July 6 with the blessings of the Ministry of Education we expect to see the umpires walking out again.

When school cricket was called ‘no play’ when the schools closed to evade the covid -19, the interest especially in division one of the tournament was at its peak and it was sad when it was stalled.

But it will soon evoke tremendous interest once the umpires call ‘play’ again in the division one tournament which sees, Trinity College, Nalanda, Gurukula MV Kelaniya, Prince of Wales, S.Thomas Matara, St.Anthony’s Katugastota sweating it out for final honours. It was surprising to note the absence of reigning champions S.Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia bowled out of the tournament, and also formidable schools who took the inter-school cricket scene by storm St. Peter’s Bambalapitiya, St.Benedict’s College, Kotahena and Ananda being out of the radar.

At a meeting the other day with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa where the hot topic was whether to go ahead with the International Cricket Stadium in

Homagama, former greats lamented the negligence of school cricket. While we respect their views we can’t fully agree with them.

It can be seen that with school cricket conducted in divisions, that the game is in the safe hands of the School Cricket Association who are doing everything possible to make the game more interesting and attractive by conducting tournaments in many groups.

By doing this the SCA is not only keeping the interest going it is also improving standards with players playing from out of their skins to not only catch the eyes of the selectors when teams are picked to tour, but to also make their schools champions and also be in the running for awards in the ‘Sunday Observer’ schoolboy cricketer of the year contest.

But while the interest among the schoolboys is still on, the same cannot be said of their old boys and their supporters who hardly show any interest in flocking to cheer their schools to success. This is sad and it is time that the School Cricket Association and the schools did something innovative to attract spectators.

The presence of spectators helps to ignite the participants to give of their best and the end result is that the standards improve all round.

During our school cricket playing days that are not likely to come again, interest was fever pitch with old boys applying for leave or short leave from their employers every Friday when the school cricket season was on which used to last for about three months. But sadly it is not so now.

And in those days schools had some marvelous cricketers – batsmen, bowlers, fielders and all rounders. To try and start in alphabetical order and by memory there were eye catching cricketers in most schools. At the expense of being found guilty of many other greats in years gone by in this columnist's playing vintage , I venture to recall that : Ananda had Yatagama Amaradasa, Sarath Wimalaratne, Parakarama Polonowita, T.D. Rajapaksa and Semasinghe. Then at SBC there were Neville Casiechetty, Lovellyn Rayen who led the 1957 team to be unofficial inter-school champions, Cecil Waidyaratne, Neville Wickremasinge, Lasantha and Lionel Fernando, the writer, Allan Gunesekera, Cyril Ernest, Sanath Jayawardena, Quintus Perera, Nihal Zoysa, brothers Ranjit and Sunil Fernando with Sunil leading the team to be champions in 1964, Felix Dias, Joe Saverymuthapulle, Lal Wickrematunge and several others.

St. Joseph’s – Keerthi Caldera, Zacky Mohammed, Ranjit Malawana, Priya Perera, Raja de Silva, Tissa de Zoysa and Placidus Liyanage. St. Peter’s - Darrel de Silva, David Heyn, Brian Seneviratne, Premasiri Athukorale, Anton Perera, Bernard Wijetunge Adiel Anghie. Royal – Lorensz Pereira, Michael Dias, Sarath Samarasinghe, Nanda Senanayake, Nihal Kodituwakku, Daya Sahabandu, Harsha Samarajeewa, Sarath Vidanage and Vijaya Malalasekera.

Nalanda – Nihal Amaradasa, Nihal Athulatmudali, Jayawickrema Perera.

SAC Kandy – Ranjit Dorenagama, Charlie Joseph, Franklyn Burke, ‘Sando’ Seneviratne, Michael Raj, Jackie Robertson. Trinity Nimal Maralande, Malsiri Kurukulasuriya, Himendra Ranaweera, Harindra Dunuwille, Nihal Marambe and Glen Vanlangenberg. St.Sebastian's – Kingsley Fernando, Sunimal Fernando, Lalith Weerasuriya, Vere de Silva and Radley Silva.

S.Thomas Mount Lavinia – Ronnie Reid, Michael Tissera, Dennis Ferdinands, Lareef Idroos, Annesly de Silva, B.W.R. Thomas, Errol Lisk, T.C.T. Edwards,

Mano Ponniah and Anura Tennekoon. Prince of Wales College – Lasantha Rodrigo, Stanley de Alwis and D.S. de Silva

The schools and cricketers were picked at random and the writer begs pardon if any deserving names have been left out. It has not been purposely done.

The above named were a galaxy of schoolboy cricketers who had it them to walk into any Ceylon team, because they were experts in their fields and who could draw crowds like moths to a flame. But today other than for one or two cricketers the rest are mediocre and so the drop in crowds.

Te above named cricketers made waves when Sri Lanka were not a Test playing country. The only serious cricket played during that era were the Gopalan Trophy, ‘Whistle Stop’ game against touring teams and an Unofficial Test.

Before that we had some cricketers playing in the Lancashire League or County scene in England. Names that ring a bell were Laddie Outschoorn

(Worcestershire), Stanley Jayasinghe and Clive Inman (Leicestersire). At one time Inman made the fastest ever 50 in county cricket.


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