Mithra, second of illustrious Wettimuny brothers passes away | Daily News

Mithra, second of illustrious Wettimuny brothers passes away

Mithra Wettimuny
Mithra Wettimuny

Of the three illustrious Wettimuny brothers who played for Sri Lanka, Mithra, the second in the family was the least known in cricket.

Sunil, the eldest was a stylist if ever there was one, was renowned for scoring a courageous half-century with a broken foot courtesy Jeff Thomson the Australian tearaway fast bowler in the inaugural World Cup match at the Oval in 1975.

Sidath was the most famous of the three becoming the first to score a Test century for his country – 157 against Pakistan at Faisalabad in 1982 and then bringing Lord’s, the Mecca of cricket to its feet with a memorable innings of 190 in Sri Lanka’s first Test appearance at this hallowed venue in 1984.

Mithra who passed away yesterday at the age of 68 due to a kidney failure also stamped his name on the game especially at school level. He was a prodigy and had he continued with cricket instead of branching into accountancy he would have represented his country more than the two Test appearances he made against New Zealand in 1983.

But it was at school level that he really shone. Being a brilliant right-hand bat and off-spin bowler at Ananda College (whom he led in 1970), Mithra proved to be a shrewd captain leading the Ceylon Schools team which included future Test captains Bandula Warnapura and Duleep Mendis on its incredibly successful cricket tour to India in 1969-70. Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was called then) won the five-match under 19 test series 2-0 and remained unbeaten throughout the tour.

Mithra put down the success of that team to “the enormous talent and strict discipline”.

“The tour was an incredible success, because the Indians were the leading team at that time in India. But we outplayed them completely. During that time the standards were very high in the schools, and we were playing beautifully. We had very good batsmen and a very steady bowling attack and the fielding was outstanding and sometimes absolutely brilliant. We fought tooth and nail, and played like absolute gentlemen,” said Mithra once in an interview.

His younger brother Sidath said, “He played two Tests with me in New Zealand. He was an accountant and he went to Hong Kong. He was determined to go and work abroad and by the time he came back he struggled to get into the team.

He toured Zimbabwe with me and had a very good tour there. We came back and toured New Zealand and we set up a record of two brothers opening the batting in a Test match for our country.”

In fact Mithra and Sidath became the third pair of brothers to open in a Test for their country after the Grace brothers EM and WG for England at the Oval in 1880 and Pakistan pair Hanif and Sadiq Mohammad at Karachi in 1969.

After his cricket career Mithra undertook the running of Stafford Motor Company actually turning it around in 1987 and in the past 30 years he was with Sidath in the clothing industry.

“He had been having this trouble with his kidney for quite a while and we wanted him to do a transplant, but he refused. In the last three months or so he was really bad,” said Sidath.

Mithra also devoted much time to religion. He has given much to the study of the Dhamma and his teachings have been translated into books on the Dhamma.

He is survived by his wife who runs Stafford College and two sons who are both pilots like their uncle Sunil Wettimuny.

His remains lie at 48 Elibank Road off Dickman’s Road and the cremation will take place at General cemetery, Borella at 3 pm today.

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