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9th January 2000

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Tony Mahath's walking try

My Police Memories
By S. Sivendran
(Retd. Snr. Supdt. of Police)

In 1972 whilst I was serving as O.I.C.Kayts Police Station I travelled daily to Jaffna in the evenings, a distance of 17 miles to coach the Jaffna Division Police seven-a-side rugby team who were runners-up in the 1971 Layards Cup Police Inter Division to win the C.P Wambeck Challenge Cup, in order to win the championship that year. It was the same team as in the previous year and we made our trip to Colombo in February for the Annual tournament and were the favourites to win the Layards Cup.

The Jaffna Police team won all the preliminary matches in the tournament which were played at the Police Park, Bambalapitiya defeating the more fancied teams such as Colombo Division, Police Training School and C.I.D which were the usual teams who ran away with the trophy, and entered the finals. The other team that entered the finals was another outstation team from Matara which won all its games including Depot which had all the Police Griffins players. This was mainly due to the efforts of Inspector T.M.B Mahath, the former Trinity and Police rugger player who was H.Q.I Matara and captained them.

In the finals the Jaffna Police team dominated the game from the beginning and the team captained by Tony Mahath defended dourly. During the dying stages of the match veteran Tony Mahath used all his knowledge and experience to outsmart the Jaffna team which was a load of raw rugby talent, off a penalty against the Jaffna team in their 10 metres where Tony took a short tap and started to walk with the ball in one hand whilst holding onto his large size shorts that was always slipping down his waist, towards the Jaffna goal line. The Jaffna players who were tackling everyone fiercely whilst running with the ball were bewildered and started to walk backwards thinking of the 10 metres rule that they should be behind when a penalty kick was being taken and Tony walked and scored the only winning try foxing the entire Jaffna defence and Matara won the Championship and the Layards Cup and Jaffna had to be again content with the C.P.Wambeck Cup for being runners -up.

Tony Mahath in his inimitable style captured this match under the caption "For want of a trouser the match was won". "It was the final of the Layard's Cup Police Inter District seven-a-side Rugger Tournament, an annual fixture started in the 1970s which may perhaps lay claim to being one of if not the oldest rugger tournament in Sri Lanka. Lads from remote areas who may have never seen a rugger ball before, were inducted into the game, its rudiments drilled into them and sent to Colombo to represent their respective Police Districts. These formed the base on which the future champion Police teams were built on.

The year was 1972 and the large number of teams entered indicated the increased interest in the game. After two gruelling preliminary rounds of matches the finalists, Jaffna and Matara districts took the field at Police Park, Bambalapitiya before a capacity, highly partisan, wildly cheering crowd of spectators.

The team from Jaffna, nurtured and trained by the veteran Police and Sri Lankan player, Inspector Sivendran, on the rock-hard playing field of Point Pedro, Kankesanthurai and Jaffna was full of confidence having imbibed the finer points of the game as only "Siva" could instil.

Matara, however had the greatest difficulty in even getting seven " Matyrs" to represent the district. The Headquarters Inspector of Matara, Tony Mahat, who had long hung up his boots was press-ganged into leading the side which had only "Patholaya" ..... who knew anything of the game. What the members of the team lacked in rugger know-how they amply made up with a fierce loyalty to their H.Q.I. which only the Southerner could generate. They also had the inspiration and support from the SP division, the IG Police, Mr. Ernest Perera.

The stage was now set for a do-or-die battle. With the strict disciplinarian Lt. Commander Darley Ingleton in charge of the whistle, the two sides took the field, Matara with brave cheers urging them to "fight hard", and Jaffna with the last order of their coach Inspector Sivendran echoing in their ears, "hammer HQI Tony Mahat if he runs."

It should be remembered that two main points of the game had been drilled into the players during practices, i.e.,

(1) do not be less than 10 yards in front of an opposing player taking a free kick,

(2) Be behind the kicker when a player from the same side takes a free kick.

A fierce game ensued. Exchanges were hard and bitter, no quarter was given and no quarter was asked, and upto the middle of the second half the scores remained blank. Upto now Tony Mahat was nothing more than a passenger and spectator. His spirit was ever willing, but his flesh was too weak. There were only two minutes left for the final whistle and Tony Mahat summoned all his resources to make one last play to outwit the opposition.

He had on that day managed to make a last minute purchase of a pair of short trousers to be properly attired for the final match. But, alas, when donning it on, he found it 2 sizes too large for him..! During play whenever he tried to run, which was not very often, he found his trousers sliding down to his knees, much to the amusement of the spectators.

At this stage a free kick was awarded to Matara for an infringement - some insist that this too was manipulated by the HQI, Tony Mahat. He now took the ball and instead of taking the kick from the spot as indicated by the referee, tapped the ball with his foot long before reaching the spot, collected it and ran towards the spot indicated by the referee to take the kick. The Jaffna team, with the last order of coach Inspector Sivendran reverberating in their ears, swooped on the HQI as he took the kick from the spot, only to be penalised by the referee for not being 10 yards in front of the kicker. Matara were now given a bonus of 10 yards and the spot from where the kick was to be taken was pointed out by the referee. This time, at the spot pointed out by the referee the HQI tapped the ball with his foot and collected it again. The ball was now in fact in "Play". But the HQI nonchalantly started pulling up his trousers which was again slipping down and started to walk towards the Jaffna goal line, all the while admonishing his team-mates to keep behind him following Rule No 2 mentioned earlier. The poor Jaffna players were in a dilemma. They had been previously penalised by the hawk-eyed referee for not being 10 yards in front of the kicker, and here was the kicker presumably walking up to the kicking spot and all what they could do was to fall back keeping 10 yards in front of the kicker. They could never imagine the ball was in play, seeing the HQI coolly adjusting his trousers and walking towards them.

The crowd was roaring with laughter, advice was shouted to the Jaffna team to tackle, but they, with the previous penalty in mind continued to back-pedal, keeping 10 yards in front of the man with the ball!! With all the commotion, the HQI quite undisturbed and certain of the rules of the game continued to walk right upto the goal line all the while adjusting his trousers, and simply pressed down for a "try" and victory with the final whistle going!!

The sequel to this was when the furious coach Inspector Sivendran lined up the Jaffna team and gave them a tongue lashing. "Did I not order you to hammer the HQI Tony Mahat," he stormed at them. "But Sir," countered the captain of the team "you ordered us to hammer him if he ran, but he walked Sir!!"

Tony Mahat who retired as a Suptd. of Police a few years back passed away on the 30th of December 99 due to a heart attack and made his last journey to the Battaramulla Muslim burial grounds on the 31st of December 99 being the last Police officer to die in the last millennium.

Tony whose father was working in the Jaffna Prisons, had his early education at Jaffna College, Vaddukoddai which was founded by the American Missioneries and which was one of the leading educational institutions in the country with all facilities, which is today a wing of the Jaffna University.

Later he joined Trinity College, Kandy and excelled at rugger and boxing and entered the Ceylon University. Whilst studying in the University he was offered the post of Sub Inspector in the Ceylon Police and he accepted this offer and gave up his higher education as then the Police was held in high esteem and the best students from the best schools with a good family background joined the Police.

He joined the Police as a Sub Inspector in 1953 and after passing out was posted to Colombo Division during which period Colombo Division won the Layards Cup seven-a-side rugger tournament several times. Thereafter he served as an intelligence officer in the C.I.D. for a major part of his Police career working in civils. But for a short spell he again donned his uniform when he was A. S. P. Kankesanthurai whilst I was O.I.C. Kayts and we used to meet very often either in Kayts at my bungalow or at his residence in K.K.S. and go down memory lane talkng about the interesting rugby games we played together for the Police, he as the scrum half and I as the hooker especially in the scrums when he put the ball in and I hooked it out.

He played rugger for the Police from 1953 and his last year was under my first captaincy of the Police team in 1963. He played for the Police in the company of some great rugby personalities such as S. S. Bambaradeniya, "a master of dummies", Michael Schockman, Quintus Jayasinghe, Rodney Aluvihare and Franklyn Jacob all from Trinity College, P. "Brute" Mahendran, James Senaratne, Sumith Silva and Rahula Silva from Royal College and Leslie "Letcho" Ephraums, Terry Williams, Muni Gomes and yours truly from St. Peter's College to name a few.

Tony and I lived together for a long time at the Bambalapitiya Inspector's Mess which was overlooking the Police grounds and had a great time when he served in the Mess committee as secretary and later as President and I too was a member of this committee and later I too became the President of the Mess. We used to organise several mess nights and the annual Police Dance which was very popular then during the festive season in December and everyone looked forward to it, not only the police but even the members of the public. But today, alas!! this dance is defunct.

After retirement Tony was the Chief of Security at the Katunayake International Airport and thereafter was a Security Consultant due to his brilliant qualities and vast knowledge.

May he rest in peace!

All Systems for Speed 2000

By Ravi Nagahawatte

The first ever motor sport event to be held in the Sabaragamuwa province, Speed 2000, will be held in Ratnapura on January 15 and 16. This motor racing event which is organised by the Sabaragamuwa Motor Sports Club in collaboration with the Southern Motor Sports Club will be worked off on the New Town Road Track Ratnapura. The extent of the race track is 3 km.

The main two categories of races that will be held are for cars and motor cycles.

Seventeen events are scheduled on the cards and races will commence on a mass start system.

Speed 2000 happens to be the first motor race for this millennium and is expected to draw over 100 entries.

Renowned racing driver Suranjith Premadasa who addressed the media at a press briefing held at hotel Galaxy on Tuesday, said that the organizers have made arrangements to acquire the services of the hospital and the use of an ambulance in the case of a driver getting injured.

National Insurance Corporation and Ravi Weththasinghe are the sponsors of the event.

The officials of the Sabaragamuwa Motor Sports Club who were present at press conference were Labour minister

W.D.J.Seneviratne (President SMSC) Mohan Abeyratne (Treasurer SMSC), D.W.Prathapasinghe (Patron SMSC), Suranjith Premadasa (President Southern Motor Sport Club), Neelanga Dela (Vice President SMSC), and Secretaries of the SMSC , Nihal Ranasinghe and Bandula Weerasinghe.

Bright chances for Davis Cup

The final trial for the Asia Oceanic group 3 Davis Cuptournament will conclude at the Greenpath courts today. The players vying for the four sports are Jayantha Wijesekera, Asiri Iddamalgoda, Rohan De Silva, Sanjeew Paramanathan, Devan Peiris and Rishan Kuruppu. The trials will be held according to the new regulations i.e. two advantage points and 2 minutes rest after each set and no Imagerest in the following set in the next game.

The non-playing captain of the team Suresh Subramaniam was optimistic about our chances at the tournament which will also take place at the Green Path courts. Dr. BJC Perera is the physician team while Dikson Peiris is the coordinator. According to Suresh "the team is working six days a week under coach Sudantha Soyza and physical trainer Mike Chaumly". Chaumly meanwhile has also Imagetrained Australian player Thomas Muster.

The Sunday Times spoke to a couple of players who were hard at training to get their view on the Davis Cup. Former champion Rohan De Silva says "Our chances are good". He adds "with the home court and especially the advantage of hot humid weather in which most of the players from other countries are uncomfortable we should be at a distinct advantage. He hopes that the Sri Lankan team can get out of this group to which they were relegated after last year's performance.

Eighteen-year-old Rishan Kuruppu who arrived in Sri Lanka from Vancouver on December 31 is a very bright prospect. He is the top under 18 player in British Columbia as well as being among the top ten in the men's event. His highest ITF ranking so far has been 380. He is awaiting clearance from the ITF to play for Sri Lanka.

Says Rishin, "Playing conditions in Sri Lanka took some getting used to but now I am fine". Used to play indoor hard court tennis the outdoor clay courts in Sri Lanka was alien to him. "The hot climate too was bad at first", he explained.

Talking about the difference in playing styles Rishin says,

"Players in Canada are more aggressive than the local players. Here it is more of a patient game. You have to work much harder to win a point", he added. And another diference he sees: very little crowd support in Sri Lanka. "We need some flag waving and cheering", he says! (U.A)

Charlie Griffith is 'Called' for throwing

For the last thirty-seven years, various versions have been written by journalists the world over regarding the above subject. And it is obvious that even the Reuter correspondent has got his wires crossed on the above subject. In the article published in The Sunday Times of 2nd January, 2000, a Reuter correspondent gives a run down on the history of throwing in the 50's and 60's. In that particular article he states that Charlie Griffith was called for throwing against India in the 62 series. If he had only taken the trouble to refer to the Wisden Almanac or done some research on the subject, he would have stumbled on the fact that Griffith did not play in that series. And thereby he would not have opened his mouth and put his foot in.

Griffith was called for throwing in '62 against India, but it was not in a Test. It was in the colony game between India and Barbados. He was bowling to the Indian captain Contractor, and he decided to give Contractor a bumper. Now, Contractor was a recognized batsman and a seasoned campaigner. But Contractor committed the cardinal sin of taking his eyes off the ball and bending backwards from the waist. The result was a thundering clout behind the right ear. Pataudi and Jaisimha were on the balcony watching, and Pataudi turned to Jaisimha and said, "My God Jai that was a bad clout." Contractor in the meantime staggered a few yards and dropped. Blood was pouring from his ear and nose. He was immediately rushed off to hospital where emergency surgery was performed. The entire Indian team and even some of the West Indian players donated blood. Sir Frank Worrell also being one of the donors. Griffith was himself sick and shocked to see what had happened, that he did not want to even finish that over.

But Hunte who was captaining the side persuaded him to continue bowling and Griffith then cut his run by almost half and was bowling at nothing more than medium pace. Cortez Jordan, then got it into his head that he had to compensate, at least partly for Contractor's mishap and he no-balled Griffith for throwing. And this mind you, when Griffith was not bowling at his normal speed. This was the first time that Griffith was no-balled for throwing and it blew a hornets' nest.

Their next series was in England in '63 for which Griffith was picked. At first the West Indies selectors did not want Griffith to tour. But Worrell insisted that he wanted Griffith in the side and Worrel had his way.

The Press as well as the gossip hunters were now with eyes open and pens ready to see Griffith being no-balled. For the traditional tour opener at Worcester, one of the umpires picked to stand was none other than Sid Buller, at that time The Lord Chief Justice of English umpires. Worrell knew very well why Buller had been picked and decided to pay them back in their own coin. He deliberately picked Griffith for the Worcester match. He lost the toss and Wes Hall bowled the first over to Don Kenyon. Griffith opened at the other end and Sid Buller now did a shuttle service from square leg to point. Before they went out to field, Worrell told Griffith that he wanted him (Griffith) to leave Worcester with a clean slate and he did not care even if Griffith bowled off breaks. Because whatever Buller said was holy writ and once Buller passed a bowler's action, no other umpire would dare point a finger at that bowler. Buller fell for the bait and gave Griffith a clean sheet. After that it was plain sailing for Griffith and he went onto take one hundred and two wickets on that tour and 32 wickets in the series.

Their next tour to England was in '66 and this time Garfield Sobers led the side. On this particular tour, when they played Lancashire at Old Trafford, Sobers stood down and Hunte led the side. One of the umpires standing in this match was the former Kent and England opening batsman Arthur Fagg. He was standing at square leg when Griffith was bowling a particular spell. While Griffith was in the middle of this spell, he was called by the umpire at his end for over- stepping. At that very moment Fagg also called that very same delivery from square leg. Apart from the scorers, leave alone the crowd, not even the Press realized that Fagg had also called that delivery. So the moment that they (the Press) were waiting for had come and gone and they had missed it. It was only the next day that it came to light and sure enough when they checked the scorebook there was a 'T' against that particular delivery. So those were the two only instances when Griffith was no-balled for throwing and both were not in Test matches, but in first class matches.

Bonanza for Kurunegala

By Bernie Wijesekera

The Interim Committee of the Cricket Board has given Rs. two million to the Kurunegala District Cricket Association for its re-development project.

Rufus Senanayake, the vice president when interviewed by The Sunday Times made these observations along with its treasurer, Nimal Ekanayake, whilst watching the continuation of the Kurunegala Y.C.C.-Bloomfield cricket match at the Welagedara Stadium last Sunday.

He said the forward march is due to the N.E. Ernest Cup played in the district. In the past 12 teams affiliated to the KDCA including the Govt. Services took part. Wayamba has a cherished cricketing background with some outstanding players like late Bertrum Marcus, T.B. Werapitiya, Hector Perera, the present president S.L.M. Cassim, Chandrasiri Weerasinghe, Jayawickrema Perera, just to name a few playing for the district. There was a great following for the game there with so many schools taking to the willow wielding sport.

Personal interest

It was most encouraging that this donation was afforded to KDCA, where Michael Tissera took a personal interest to make it a reality. Tissera has personal interest in the district and he is a source of inspiration for the development of the sport, Senanayake added. The re-building of the pavilion has already started.

Kurunegala is the main cog in the wheel for the promotion and development of the game. It's just 45 minutes to Kandy and two hours to make it to Colombo and close proximity to Dambulla. It was on Oct. 13, 1983 the new K'gala D.CA. was born. Since then we have been doing our best for the promotion and development of the game, despite limited resources.


There are district tournaments for the schools under 13, 15 and 19 to give them that much-needed competition among the boys in the district. KDCA assist these schools - especially the balls and the umpires' fees. The boys are very keen and there is much talent to be harnessed with proper guidance. For the first time in the annals of Wayamba - a Combined Under 15 Schools Team from the district, organized by KDCA toured India - thanks to Mr. Sekhar, a live-wire of the MRF last year. It was a good exposure for the lads to improve their skills whilst playing against their counterparts in Chennai, Senanayake added.

The Welagedara Stadium was mooted by the late D.B. Welagedara, when he was M.P. for Kurunegala. Today, it could be tagged as one of the most picturesque venues in the world. It came in for praise from the Pakistani Captain Imran Khan and South African coach Bob Woolmer when they played here.

The district coach is R. Dheerasuriya.

More cricket

The Welagedara Stadium, should be an ideal venue for first class cricket. Why start a stadium in Dambulla at much expense? Where do you find more cricket being played Dambulla or K'gala? Senanayake asked.

Today there are two clubs playing Div. I Cricket - Kurunegala S.C and K'gala Youth. KYCC have already entered the super league defeating clubs like the NCC and CCC with sheer determination.

KYCC may not win the title, but has given notice that they are a force to be reckoned with. Less affluent schools lack equipment and qualified coaches to help them with the skills.

In Australia, the game is developed thanks to their development program and infrastructure at grassroots level. Nothing is done in a haphazard manner. There are full time coaches appointed at district level who are committed to their task. They are fully equipped. Sri Lankan born Trevor Croner (Queensland) is one of them.

The Commonwealth Bank has given the ACB a long term sponsorship. There are no figure heads. They have to show reports and the records of the young prospects to be elevated into a senior camp.

If Australia is enjoying consistency to dominate the world scene, it attributes to proper planning. There are spinners aplenty to take over from Shane Warne. The latest pace sensation Bret Lee is one of them.

One hopes in the start of the millennium here there will be a change of heart among our power hungry officials to put the country before self thereby stop this meaningless exercise to be in power at all cost which has ruined the country's future progress.

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