ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 43

Dr. N.M. was not inaugural captain - letter

The Sunday Times of 18th March 2007 in the Sports page penned by BW referring to Dr. N.M. Perera under the caption “Dr. N.M. a cricket icon of Ananda”. Quotes the following in the last two sentences of the first paragraph as follows:

“He captained Ananda Cricket team in 1925 in the first Battle of the Maroons against Nalanda which was led by B.S. Perera. Nalanda won the inaugural contest with two Pereras leading from the front”

This statement is factually incorrect although Dr. N.M. and B.S. Perera did captain Ananda and Nalanda respectively in 1925 and Ananda was defeated in the same year in the Big Match against Nalanda.

The inaugural Big Match between Ananda and Nalanda was not played in 1925 but in the year 1924 with K.A.P. Rajakaruna, (later Barrister-at-law) as captain of Ananda College and B.S.Perera as captain of Nalanda College. B.S. Perera later played for All Ceylon.

The first encounter between Ananada and Nalanda in 1924 was played at Campbell Place the playground of Nalanda and this match was practically washed of by heavy rain.

The writer further goes on to say: I quote, “After his school career he capped it off with a doctorate at the Harold Laski School of Economics (London). N.M. still had the time to play and enjoy life via cricket”

The writer may be referring to Dr. N.M. Perera’s student days at the London school of Economics when he read for his degree in economics under the tutelage of Harold Laski but I am not sure whether he collected a Doctorate in Economics at the London school of Economics. But later N.M. Perera did write a thesis whilst in prison at Welikada and Bogambara in the forties on “British Parliamentary Procedure and Practice” for which he was awarded a doctorate.

As to whether Dr. N.M. did play serious cricket in England is not known, but his contemporary both at Ananda and in England the first Ananda captain in the inaugural Big Match K.A.P. Rajakaruna did play for the Indian Gymkhana Cricket Club (based in England) along with the top All Indian cricketers of the day, the likes of Iftikar Ali Khan (Nawab of Patandi, Senior, the father of Manasoor Ali Khan who led India in 1960s) Contractor, Senior (father of Nari Contractor, another Indian captain of the 60s), Nazir Ali (the fiery paceman) and many other Indian players.

K.A.P. Rajakaruna who opened for the Indian Gymkhana cricket club had the distinction of collecting a century against their encounter with the combined Eton and Harrow team.

Dr. N.M. Perera joined Ananda in 1922 having left S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia where he was a student since 1919. In his unfinished autobiography Dr. N.M. Perera says that at St. Thomas’ he could not play for the first eleven as he did not stay long enough to qualify but he showed his prowess in the younger division to which he was allocated, and was promoted to the senior division just before he left S. Thomas’.

He narrates as to the reason why he was removed from St. Thomas’ and something of the new environment he experienced at Ananda.

I quote from his autobiography “N.M. in his own words” page 49 to 50 (Dr. N.M. Perera Birth Centenary Publication edited by Professor Colvin Gunaratne) “I was thus catapulted from a careful world of sport and an alien atmosphere to a new world of intense nationalism. In my last year at S. Thomas’, I had been smoothly inveigled into becoming a Christian as a result of some slick work on the part of Rev. G.B. Ekanayake. I was rescued just in time by the vigilance of my parents who gently whisked me away from the atmosphere.”

He further stresses how his character was stirred with the new environment he experienced at Ananda.

I again quote from Dr. N.M. Perera’s autobiography page 51 to 52. “Herein lay the great divide. Missionary education was both apolitical and anti-national, not specifically, but insidiously so. An institution like Ananda had a different tone and a different atmosphere. At Ananda, one felt the impact of everything that was happening in the country, to the people of the country. At an institution like S. Thomas’, one felt aloof an immune from the hurly burly of everyday life. I believe this was typical of most missionary schools that functioned during this time.

In this new atmosphere charged with nationalist feelings, the more serious side of my character was being stirred. Ananda was slowly remolding me. Every discussion, every controversy was stirring something latent in my consciousness. In the not too distant future, these smoldering embers would be kindled and the blazing fire would help devour much of the privileges and injustices of an alien hegemony”.

K. Amaranath P. Rajakaruna

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.