Jayantha and Nalanda went hand in glove
Former Sri Lanka's hard-hitting batsman, Jayantha Seneviratne, who hails from a cricketing stock, played a dynamic role for Nalanda cricket. He played for the school first XI from 1968 to 1971 with a lot of success. He was a free-scoring batsman and a brilliant fielder. His father G.W.G. captained Nalanda in 1941-'42 while his elder brother Palitha led Nalanda in 1971.

The Seneviratne clan has done proud for Nalanda cricket. Jayantha represented the country at international level and played under Anura Tennakoon. A Level IV coach in the BCCSL panel with the likes of Roy Dias, Rumesh Ratnayake, B. Warnapura, Carlton Bernadus, Arjuna Ranatunga, Sunil Fernando and Malcolm Perera.

eneviratne started coaching Nalanda cricket from 1986 to 2003 (for 18 years). During this period due to his perseverance and total commitment and the support rendered by the school hierarchy Nalanda dominated school cricket. During this period the school lost only 7 matches outright against any school including the two defeats during the last season. Besides the school won 11 trophics during his tenure.

Go places
"I took up the challenge to coach the Nalanda team in 1986 not merely for material gains, I wanted to give something back to the school which helped me to go places on and off the field", said Jayantha.

Grooming a young side at grassroots level, later on the youngsters came of age.
In 1987, Nalanda emerged Under-17 champions. In 1988 Chaminda Handunettige, Kumara Dharmasena, Nishan Silva toured England with the Sri Lanka Schools team.
It was no looking back since then. In 1989 league champs (1st XI) won nine matches, a record to date under Romesh de Silva.

The same year selected the best schools team - All-Island. Three players in the team won top awards, Kumara - best schoolboy cricketer, Ramesh de Silva - the most popular cricketer, and Handunettige - best batsman runner- up. Kumara, a utility allrounder played for Sri Lanka and was a member of the W.C. team that won the championship in 1996, in Lahore.

Junior cricket was on a firm footing, thanks to Nishantha Kumara, a Level II coach and Shammi Thilakawardena, an old Nalandian, who is also Level II BCCSL coach.
Shammi even sacrificed his job at Ceylon Cold Stores to take up Nalanda junior coaching. Sanjaya Mendis is also a BCCSL Level II coach. He earlier coached Basilika College, Kandana. He has produced a number of junior cricketers of repute.

Results wil prove
The junior cricket results will prove to their ability. Not only the winning ploy, but also the skills they taught them to reach higher levels. The trio did an excellent job.
Of course one must not forget the good work done by mild- mannered, Trevor Nugegoda, the P.O.G, who served diligently. An International athletic referee, he was always on the mark, a source of strength to me from 1986-2003 until I relinquished the post.

What made you resign?
Well I don't want to comment. Due to various factors. Why keep on festering and open old wounds. Let's look forward for the future for the betterment of the game though I am not there, but I am still there to help my old school. That means reasons best known to you. Yes.

In some quarters apparently they have been harping about Nalanda's performances without knowing the facts. But one can't stop arm-chair crictics. But facts are stubborn. In 1990 Under-17 runner-up, All-Island 1992 First XI Coca Cola league champs under S. Perera. P. Abeygunawardena was picked best bowler in schools. 1993 a repeat - Ist XI league champs under Sudaram Fernando, Bata champions.

1994 - Glorious year for Nalanda - winners take all. Under Achintha Illukumbura Coca Cola limited over champs selected best school team. Mahela Jayawardena at present, a frontline batsman in the national team - best batsman. runner-up schoolboy cricketer of the year; best all-rounder and best fielder.

Jayawardena is one of my best products and has many more years to serve the country's cause. Something is going wrong with him at this juncture. This could happen to anyone. He should be able to come back with better concentration and mental toughness.

In 1994 Under-17 Div. I All-Island champs. Shantha Kalavitagoda, a sedate little opener. He was a member of the Sri Lanka Under-17 Mini World Cup team which toured Malaysia and won the best batsman's trophy. The same year Under-15 'A' All-Island runner-up, led by A. de Silva.

The winning spree, continued. 1995 under Mahela Jayawardena won the Coca Cola championship (Ist XI). Mahela was also the best batsman of the year. Capped it off in 1996 with a double V. The team was led by Tharanga Dhammika. League champions and Coca Cola jt. champions (limited over cricket). Tharanga best captain All-Island.

You believe in this old proverb - 'The darkest hour is just before the dawn. 'Yes 1996 glorious year for Nalanda cricket. Won the popular Wesley 6-a-side final, too.
In year 2000-01 Ishara Dilshan represented under-17 Sri Lanka Schools in the Asia Cup.

He was selected the man-of-the-match in the final. In 2001, Ishara Dilshan and Sanjaya Gangodawila represented Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup held in B'desh. Ishara, best bowler of the tournament. Sukith Peiris, an elegant batsman represented Sri Lanka U-19 team's tour of Australia.

Well, you have served the game well for Nalanda. Yes. There is no point pinpointing a finger at anyone. Seneviratne's interview with The Sunday Times was to prove to the cricketing fraternity be it Nalandians or otherwise what he has done for the game - with malice to none. The future of cricket (nurseries) are with the schools. -BW

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