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
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.
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
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
Q: What was your best bowling effort, was it at school or at club
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.