ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, Augest 26, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 13

A moment with the stalwarts

A PART OF THE GALAXY……Former Lankan spinner Daya Sahabandu is greeted by Stanley Jayasinghe, also in the picture are -- T.B. Kehelgamuwa, A.C.M. Lafir, Tita Nathanielsz, Channa Gunasekera, Bertie Wijesinghe and Stanley de Alwis. ( Pic Saman Kariyawasam )

The word nostalgia cuts a special niche in the buildup of the current civilisation. The craving of mundane people to remember the occurrences of the past and the men who made it all possible and at the same time the lightness that comes into the hearts of those very people who knowingly or unknowingly were a part of that moment when history was created. May be that was the driving force for those historians to mark each event in history and keep them in preservation for the generations to follow to savour, cherish and build upon those castles.

I was young very ….very young when I first saw a match in my neighbourhood ground – at the then Oval. I watched Stanley Jayasinghe (as someone told me) bowling at a batsman. I cannot remember what the match was or who the batsman was, but, that moment is embedded in my mind very vividly, so much so he was bowling from the ‘tennis court end’.

Taking a step forward it was great to see Sri Lanka Cricket taking a minute off its busy schedule to salute seventeen past cricketers as a token of respect for their contribution to the game that we all love so much. The fact is that it is not the sum of money that was given to them or the little memento that they received. The beauty of it is the fact that the recognition that they received came from those who are the custodians of the game in the country at present. They were Tita Nathanielsz, C.I. Gunasekera, Bertie Wijesinghe, Channa Gunasekera, Stanley Jayasinghe, H.I.K. Fernando, A.C.M. Lafir, Stanley de Alwis, Sylvester Dias, Lasantha Rodrigo, Norton Frederick, M. Devraj, Daya Sahabandu, Nihal Kodituwakku, T.B. Kehelgamuwa and Russel Hamer.

Going back in the lines of time, when those very persons who were honoured on Wednesday tilled the meadows of cricket at that time it reaped no great harvests to them, but, it had the promise that the land would deliver the goods someday in the future. Now after four to six decades the meadow has transformed into an orchard full of riches enough not only for those who till the land now, but also for those who tilled it in the past just for the joy it brought to them in the days gone by.

One of those who were really moved by this gesture was none other than former Sri Lanka opening batsman, president of the players association and a member of the Cricket Interim Committee Sidath Wettimuny. Sharing his thoughts about the occasion with The Sunday Times, Sidath said “So many stalwarts whom we held in awe in our youth gathered in the same room was gigantic. It’s good that the SLC has taken this step to recognise the people who laid the foundation for the game to develop to what it is today.” Sidath also took time to pay a special compliment to that past opening batsman and cricket commentator Ranjit Fernando who was responsible for successfully selling this idea to the cricket hierarchy and said that this was only the first instalment of a long list of people who would be recognised in the near future.

Then The Sunday Musings took a minute off the tight schedule of Ranjit Fernando just to learn how his clock ticked to bring about this project to reality. He said what inspired him were the words of some of the present day heroes like Arjuna Ranatunge, Aravinda de Silva or Kumar Sangakkara. He said when any these cricketers spoke at a forum on the subject of cricket, they never forgot to pay a compliment to those cricketers who made it all possible for them to take the current day cricketing world by storm. He said these comments really set him off to persuade the cricket custodians to walk that extra mile.

Speaking further Fernando said besides the cricketers who were already felicitated there are still more cricketers to be honoured in the likes of Michael Tissera, Abu Furad, Anura Tennekone, P.I. Peiris, H.S.M. Peiris, Neil Chanmugam, Nihal Zoysa etc. Ranjit Fernando also added that besides the cricketers there are cricket administrators of the calibre of Neil Perera, Nisal Senaratne, Leo Wijesinghe and Feroze Ali who also have contributed to the game immensely. He added that it would be great if he could see the day that people of this nature also are duly recognised by the authorities.

Finally as Sidath Wettimuny stated earlier, may this be the first step of a long run. Yes, there are people seen and unseen, but, who have contributed to the development of the game in no uncertain manner. For instance the late Archibald Pereira compiled Sri Lanka’s first score book. But, today who is aware of it or else who appreciates the contribution made by the scorers. Then the Alagasamies and other thangacchies who grew grass blade by blade and nurtured them inch by inch could be recognised even in a small way and be given a pat on their backs and say ‘thank you chum’. Even the tallest building in the world is built on a foundation that is buried deep inside the earth.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.