Sethupathy, first Sebastianite to play for Sri Lanka

Down Memory Lane with Bernie Wijesekera

The coastal district in Moratuwa has produced willow wielders of class for the country. They have thrilled fans at home and away. St. Sebastian’s College Moratuwa has produced some of those who have reached the top.

The first to achieve the feat for St. Sebastian’s was that little left-hander Anton Sethupathy. He played for Sri Lanka in 1950 and laid the stepping stone for others to enjoy the trail.

The Sunday Times met Sethupathy for a chat one afternoon.

Q: Who coached you initially?

A: Late A.C. Amath the famed cricket umpire who played for Malays. But of course Bro. Patrick the Prefect of Games of St. Sebastian’s helped me at grassroots level. If I made the grade,it is thanks to Bro. Patrick. I owe him a token of gratitude.

Q: You played for St. Benedict’s in your last year – 1950
A: Yes, under Ronnie Simmons.

Q: Any unforgettable moment in your school career?
The Bens a well-knit side played Nalanda. Then Stanley Jayasinghe as a schoolboy was on tour with the Lankan team in Pakistan under Sathi Coomaraswamy. He was an exciting batsman with a 100 and 90 odd against Pakistan in the test match. Immediately after the tour he got permission to fly back home and straight from the Airport he came to Kotahena and smashed a swashbuckling 100. I played with him at Forbes and Walker and for the Mercantile XI.

In my opinion he was a player of international class could have captained the Lankan team.

Q: Where did you play after leaving school?
I played for the Tamil Union C and AC for 25 years. With the likes of M. Sathasivam, S. Coomaraswamy, S. Nagendran, T. Dharmalingam, C.T.A. Schaffter, Francis Casiechetty, Mylvaganam (of hockey fame), etc.

Q: Anything special whilst playing for the TU?
Played in 100 P. ‘Sara’ games without a break. Then it was confined to 7 or 8 clubs and had a high standard, very competitive. Players of the calibre of Tita Nathanielsz, Bobby Schoorman, Bertie Wijesinghe, Ben Navaratne, Makkin Salih, A.C.M. Lafir, Vernon Prins.

Q: What was your first job?
I worked in the Treasury. Later joined Forbes and Walker.

Q: Anything special in the Quadrangular tournament Robert Senanayake trophy?
I played for the Govt. Services with the likes of late T.B. Werapitiya, Malcolm Spittel, Bobby Schoorman, S.E.G. Perera, K.M.T. Perera etc, also toured India. Later played for the Mercantile XI under Prins and also represented the REST XI led by late F.C. de Saram. Sathasivam also played for the Rest.

He opened batting with FC played at the NCC grounds against a strong MCA XI. He smashed 100 with hardly any practice.

Q: When did you play for Sri Lanka?
In 1950 against the MCC (England) led by Peter May. The then Ceylon team was captained by Vernon Prins. In 1956 I played against India played here captained by Polly Umrigar. A two test series. The team had G.S. Ramchand, Pankaj Roy, Vijey Manjerekar (Father of Sanjay). The test at the Oval was marred by rain.

Q: You still make a trek to Sri Lanka?
Yes, nothing like home sweet home. To meet my old friends in Moratuwa. My home where I played softball cricket in the beach with the fishing folk. It’s a great pleasure to be with them. Ofcourse a fishing net in support.

Cricket is no barrier. Imagine West Indies frontline batsman Chandrapaul is a fisherman’s son. I too had my baptism at the Moratuwa beach concluded Sethupathy.

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