of a true legend
Bernie Wijesekera talks to C.I.Gunasekera who recalls
the great double century partnership he put on with Keith Miller
at the Oval for the Commonwealth XI
"With the passing away of Keith Ross
Miller, the cricketing world has lost an all-time legend and a charming
personality", said C. Ivers Gunasekera, the former Royal, SSC
and Sri Lanka all rounder in an interview with The Sunday Times.
known as C.I. himself is one of the greats who donned the pads,
and maintained the spirit of the game in both cricket and tennis.
Ivers, was one the hardest strikers of the ball on the field and
in the courts. Today he leads a humble life all alone in his ancestral
home. Still possesses cheerful heart - a heart burning with love.
said, "Miller was one of the greatest all rounders that Australia
has produced be it in the past or at present. He was a cricketing
character, who mixed around freely with the highest and the lowest
on and off the field. A gentleman to the finger tips he maintained
its dignity for others to emulate.
have met and had the rare opportunity of playing with him with the
star-studded Commonwealth XI led by late F.C. de Saram against the
MCC team skippered by Nigel Howard at the Oval. The team included
the likes of India's great all rounder, Vinoo Mankad, Imtiaz Ahamed
and Fazal Mahmud (Pakistan), Keith Miller and left-handed Neil Harvey
who made a debut test 100 for Australia against England for the
invincible Aussie team led by late Sir Donald Bradman in 1948. It
was my debut for Sri Lanka also in 1948 against the Aussies. Mercurial
M. Sathasivam captained the Lankans. World class 'keeper Ben Navaratne,
too played for this team.
batted at No. 4, while I came in at No. 5. He was going like shell,
on 30. I matched him with stroke to stroke and caught him up. It
was a flourishing stand, which had the avid fans bewildered.
both of us were in the 90s, he walked up to me (on 96), go ahead
for the 100 before me, as the fans will be delighted - you getting
it first. I reached it with a hook over mid-wicket for six. It was
a rare gesture by him, indeed in any part of the cricketing world
be it in the past or at present times it was not selfish cricket,
but playing the game for all to enjoy. Keith followed up with a
similar shot over the pickets to reach his 'ton'. The fourth wicket
stand reached 230 runs with the English fielders tired and running
played before Independence (1948) spanning over 50 years. It was
a Fun Game. It's in the Cricket Museum. There were no coaches like
at present. It was on natural ability. M. Sathasivam was one of
them. No covered pitches, no headgear or armbands etc. No restrictions
of the bouncers. One has to connect the bat on the ball at the right
moment and get in line. Even a village boy could do it. Spot the
ball and put the bat on the correct position. During my time one
has to work and play on a tight schedule even playing for the country.
Even the wife and family have to find their own way to the ground.
No extravagant cars, but public transport".
general standard in my day and now
"Without doubt the general standard today is on a higher echelon
now than during my day or earlier. It's not so much we have produced
some super stars overnight. During my time there were five or six
international class players. The others were good, but didn't measure
to the standard. Today every one of our players is virtually on
par. Of course population wise it has trebled unlike then. In its
wake there is wider spectrum of talented players to draw attention.
end result is we did put up a good show too often. But failed to
maintain the winning culture. But today Sri Lankans are world champions.
Speaking about the changes that have taken place in the game Ivers
said "Whether it's good for the game I've doubts. It has changed
from a pleasant pastime to a profession. Apparently it has become
a national religion. The better exponents as and the deserving,
too has been rewarded. The likes of Aravinda de Silva, Sanath Jayasuriya,
Arjuna Ranatunga, Muralitharan, Roshan Mahanama, Kaluwitharane,
Chaminda Vaas, Marvan Atapattu etc., for their performances. They
have put them in the highest world rankings and brought fame to