The centenary innings, worth a replay

The mention of the name Halangoda just takes you back to the Royal-Thomian centenary match where tailenders-- young Mahinda Halangoda along with C.P. Richards did a back-to-the-wall act to thwart Ranjan Madugalle’s Royal Xl from over-running them.

In an earlier era the Halangodas’ were a household name in the Hill Capital and in the portals of Trinity College. Mahinda’s grand father John Halangoda was a Trinity ‘Lion’ at cricket. Later he coached S. Thomas’ Mount Lavinia in 1936-37.

Mahinda Halangoda

The Thomians won the big match under Willie Jayatilleke. The team had the likes of Bertie Wijesinghe, M.O. Gunaratne. Later John coached Trinity and St. Anthony’s Katugastota. All three schools won their big matches, with John (Snr) in the driving seat.

Q: Your father Brig. John Halangoda (Jnr) was also a sportsman?
A: Yes. A Trinity ‘Lion’ at cricket and he also won colours in rugby.

Q: He was a self made man who always wanted to drive on?
A: Whatever he did he forged ahead. He holds a record in Army inter-unit cricket. He played for the First Battalion Gemunu Watch against Ordnance Corps. Gemunu scored over 500 runs and won the match which is still a record.
As a youngster he took me around. But I can’t remember the details. He played cricket and rugby for the Army and for the Combined Services. He was also a founder member of the Army rugby club with the likes of Brig. P.D. Ramanayake.

Q: Who coached you?
A: No one. I learned my cricket playing in the backyard watched by my father.

Q: Who improved your skills?
A: At junior level at S. Thomas’ late George Ponniah, I must be frank, if I have achieved something it was owing to the late F.C. de Saram. FC was firm, but possessed human qualities.

Q: There were no foreign coaches during your time?.
A: No why go for aliens. Our coaches could match the best. I am grateful to Ian Peiris and Neil Chanmugam. The duo could match the best.

Q: Anything special in your career?
A: My generation hailed from Trinity. But I was not confined to one school, due to my father’s official commitments. I studied at S. Thomas’ Bandarawela. I had a short stint at Ananda, then at S. Thomas, Matale before ending up at S. Thomas’ Mount Lavinia.

Q: What was your best bowling effort, was it at school or at club level?
A: Playing for SSC I had a matchbag of 15 for 91, in a Div. I match against Sinha SC.

Q: What about your batting?
A: As a schoolboy I played for DAAC (Up country) in a Div III match. I made 196, whilst living in Diyatalawa. At that level, too the standard was quite high.

Q: What was the most unforgettable moment in your cherished career?
A: Without doubt the Centenary match in 1979 against Royal. I went in at 127 for 7 on the third day. Royal made 312 for 8 dec. STC on 154 were made to follow on and we were struggling at 127 for 7, when I went in to bat. At tea the score read 161 for 8. Royal had to take two wickets for victory with one session to spare.
Late President J.R. Jayewardene was there in full attire to celebrate a right Royal victory. We batted under pressure against a hostile attack which comprised Sudath Pasqual and Asantha de Mel supported by Ramesh de Silva, (leg –spin) and Haroon Musafer (off-spin).

Q: You thwarted their aspirations with C.P.P. Richards?
A: Yes. It’s a game of glorious uncertainities. On a wearing pitch we batted till dusk – to end up at 254 for 8. I scored 70 and my partner Richards 20. The partnership was an unfinished 91 for the 9th wicket.

Q: Any other efforts?
A: In 1980 in the Royal – Thomian match Sumithra Warnakulasuriya made 196, batting over 5 hours which is a record. In the same match I bowled 54 overs, 25 maidens and finished with 4 for 104, at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium. This could be a record for a bowler to hurl 54 overs in one innings, in this traditional match.
Q: After leaving school where did you end up?
A: I captained the school in 1981. Royal was led by Ajith Devasurendra. Match was drawn. I joined the Air Force for a short stint.

Q: Anything special at SSC?
A: I captained the SSC Div. I, II and III. Led all three teams to championship honours. From 1989-93 led SSC in 1993 to win the Premier Trophy. SSC won the Division league three –in-a-row.

Q: You have retired from cricket. In what way are you contributing as an administrator?
A: I am chairman of the SSC cricket committee. This year under Avishka Gunawardena SSC won the Premier league after 8 years. He was instrumental in getting the team together and performed beyond our expectations. Others in the committee are Michael de Zoysa, Priya Paranawitharne, and Ashan de Silva. They contributed much for this success, with our Sri Lanka stars on national duty.

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