man who led Sri Lanka to its rugby glory
Indrajith still a humble soul
Bernie Wijesekera who was in London with the Sri Lanka
Under-19 team had the time to meet former Sri Lanka rugby captain
and Harrow skipper versatile sportsman Indrajit Coomaraswamy.
Q: Who are your cricketing idols in Sri Lanka and away?
A: Michael Tissera, a gentleman and a cricketer to emulate.
Internationally Gary Sobers ‘three in one’ allrounder.
My rugby idol was Sari de Sylva one of the best the country produced.
You have proved your mettle in both disciplines.
A: Playing for Harrow and leading with much success. Later
for Cambridge in a team which included Pakistan’s batting
maestro Majid Khan.
You have learnt your books and learnt to play the game. What’s
your most unforgettable moment in your sporting career?
A: Leading my country to emerge runners in Japan in the
1974 Rugby Asiad, helping Sri Lanka. Besides the classroom, sport
has helped me to go places and build friendship. Though domiciled
in UK, I am still a Sri Lankan and always prepared to help my motherland.
What about your family life?
A: Married at the age of 23 to Tara. She gave me all encouragement
to indulge in sports. Imagine playing round the year (cricket and
rugby). She looked after a growing family with two children, while
I spend much of my time on and off the field.
Q: What have got to say about rugby at present times in Sri Lanka
– Any comments?
A: I am happy that the present day players are afforded
with fringe benefits and regular international exposure. We had
to fight for our places and the players had to work hard, even with
their limited resources.
However, it’s sad despite all the benefits and sponsorship
packages the standards have dropped. Apparently the players are
not fully committed. Next year the Asiad will be held in Sri Lanka.
must work hard to impress and strive to make an effort to repeat
the 1974 effort. The clubs, the Rugby Union and the players must
dedicate themselves to achieve its objectives to do proud for Sri
What have you got to say about Kandy Sports Club dominating the
sports at present after being in the doldrums?
A: I am pleased with Kandy is doing well. It’s good
for the game during the past decade thanks to Malik Samarawickrama
who has been a good friend and a teammate of mine since my rugby
has made a major contribution for the Hill Capital Club’s
Besides has been a cornerstone for Sri Lanka rugby. Has been of
great assistance to rugby in many ways. Indrajit, an orthodox left-arm
spinner was seen bowling in a line for Lankan CC against Nelson
CC at West Harrow last weekend. Like his father ‘Roving Raju’
he is spinning around as Commonwealth Director Economic Affairs.
He left for India on Aug. 23.
Your father was better known as ‘Roving Raju’ in his
professional career. Uncle Sathi and cousin Gajan Pathmanathan were
outstanding products of Royal. Later played for the Tamil Union.
A: You are right. Sathi, went on to captain the Sri Lanka
team which team included the likes of Mahes Rodrigo, Gamini Gionesena,
Stanley Jayasinghe, Bertie Wijesinghe, Lucien de Zoysa etc.
Who coached you in cricket?
A: Old Josephian late Mr. Johnpillai. He was a competent
coach and nursed many a talented players at grassroots level. Later
it was uncle Sathi, at the Tamil Union, who put me to on course.
Why didn’t you play for Royal?
A: Well, my father admitted me to Harrow for Higher Studies.
But my career on and off the field, was cemented at Royal. At the
age of 14 played for Harrow First XI. Played in the Mecca of cricket
at Lord’s against Eton. Captained the team in 1967. But in
1968, led them, beat Eton. Had a match bag of 12 for 107. The team
had Phil Edmonds the former England teat player. Back in Sri Lanka
played for the Tamil Union, with S. Skandakumar, Sugi Rajaratnam,
Sridaran Jeganathan etc.
Though you have performed well at cricket and rugby, what was your
A: Ofcourse Rugby.
Did you play for Harrow?
A: Yes, for three years.
Who coached you?
A: Mahes Rodrigo, Summa Navaratnam and late Kavan Rambukwella.
Mahes was a pillar of Royal, CR and FC and Sri Lanka Rugby .