|Sunday, 29 September 2002|
Doctors Quintus, David and former boxing official Gray - a boon to cricketers
by A. C. DE SILVA
Sri Lanka Cricket Board's official representative in Australia Dr. Quintus de Zylva is in Sri Lanka right now on a very busy working holiday, first to witness the Champions Trophy Cricket tournament now in its final stages and also to get things moving in the development of Sri Lanka's cricket in Australia.
It's somewhat a hectic schedule for Dr. Quintus and his able lieutenant Edward Gray - the former Boxing Association President who is also a very active Trustee of the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria on this trip to Sri Lanka for the Champions Trophy Series.
The primary object of the trip to Sri Lanka by these two gentlemen is to find what ways the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria can help Sri Lanka's cricket to keep pace with the developing game and to be with the leaders in the international scene.
It was in 1985 when the late Mr. Gamini Dissanayake was the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka that the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria was formed and with the encouragement given by the late Minister Gamini Dissanayake that the association in Victoria was able to get going even though Sri Lanka had not achieved Test status.
Mr. Fred Van Buren, a Sri Lankan and then a Labour Minister of the Victorian State Parliament and Dr. Quintus de Zylva - the official representative of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board in Australia were able to convince the Victorian authorities of the progress being made by the Sri Lankans and a grant of $12,000 was allocated to set up a fund to assist Sri Lankan cricketers to improve their game.
Aravinda de Silva - the most experienced Sri Lankan batsman who has now made a re-entry into the side, is one of the first beneficiaries of the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria, then subsequently in consultation with the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lankan, the Victorian Association has been sponsoring quite a few young cricketers from Sri Lanka. These sponsorships have been highly successful and fruitful. Besides Aravinda de Silva, two more Roshan Mahanama and Ruwan Kalpage made the grade and played for Sri Lanka and are now on the coaching scene. Two others that come to mind - Dileepa Wickremasinghe and Nilantha Ratnayake also benefitted. In fact, there are around 12 to 15 cricketers who have benefitted from the Victorian sponsorship program.
As an experiment, the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria, at its own expense, sponsored two Sri Lankan schoolboy cricketers - Chethaka Kapugoda and Malintha Perera for a period of three months to Melbourne in 1990. They were coached by Dav Whatmore and played club cricket. It was a great experience for the schoolboys and they learnt a lot while in Melbourne.
Sri Lanka were looking out for a coach around 1995 and the Victorian Foundation was of invaluable assistance to the Sri Lanka Cricket Board in finalising arrangements regarding the appointment of Dav Whatmore as coach. Whatmore's thorough knowledge of the game had immediate impact on the team and Sri Lanka had remarkable success against the Pakistanis and the West Indians in Pakistan and Sharjah in 1995 and went on to win the World Cup in 1996 in fine style. Whatmore ended his contract, but was called on again on the strength of the successes gained during his tenure and is back with the team.
In recent times, two trustees in Victoria - Messrs Bertie Ekanayake and David Cruse through the Victorian Foundation sponsored a 15-year-old schoolboy from St. Sylvester's College, Kandy - Chanaka Wijesinghe. The sponsorship is for around Rs. 50,000 a year for four years and cricketing gear too.
Besides the cricket, the Foundation has also come to the assistance of the cricketers by providing medical assistance whenever it has been possible. Dr. David Young - a leading Orthopaedic Surgeon, who has been a student of Dr. Quintus de Zylva at the Royal Melbourne Hospital has built a close relationship is in charge of the Sri Lanka had taken special care of Muttiah Muralitharan when the cricketer had gone to Australia to get attention to the dislocated shoulder before the England tour, there was former Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga, Nuwan Zoysa and also Ruchira Perera. Recently, Danusha Fernando of St. Sebastian's Moratuwa and Dhammika Sudarshana from Galle had been attended to.
The two doctors have been somewhat of a 'godsend' to Sri Lanka at the moment as the two without any fuss have been attending to around eight Sri Lankan cricketers in orthopaedic injuries in the Champions Trophy cricket tournament.
The two eminent doctors do not believe in harping on success. Dr. Quintus the guru and his able student Dr. David Young are keen in spreading the message of goodwill to the sick in their effort to encourage all sportsmen and sportswomen to further their interest in their chosen fields.
The two doctors have even been consulted by Australia's Ricky Ponting and Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq. So, as a result of the success gained by the Sri Lankan Cricket Foundation of Victoria, similar Cricket Foundation in New South Wales, Queensland, Perth and South Australia have been set up by the genial doctor De Zylva with the same aims and objectives.
With the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria spreading its wings into other fields, it has become necessary to branch out afresh and a Sri Lanka Sports Foundation in Victoria has been formed. Dr. Olga Mendis is the President of the Foundation and there should be no problem in carrying on the same good work.
Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria are also very happy about the progress made by 21-year-old middle distance runner Chamindra Wijekoon who recently won the best athlete's award at the Singapore open track and field meet. The 21-year-old Army officer Wijekoon turned out to be the star of the meet and won three events - 800 metres, 1,500 metres and 3,000 metres. Besides the trophy, he won for himself $1,000.
"This boy shows much promise and we will get in touch with the authorities in Sri Lanka what way we can be of assistance to him so that he will be able to further his interest in athletics and bring honour to Sri Lanka," said Dr. Quintus de Zylva.
Then the genial doctor and his able assistant Mr. Eddie Gray has also good news for two young cricketers - two 16 year-old Year 11 boys for a scholarship to attend Carey Baptist Grammar School to attend term 1 next year (Jan. 31 to April 11). The school will provide board and lodging in the Carey family network and will also provide uniforms, books and tuition fees.
The boys will have to be competent in spoken and written English and will be expected to attend academic classes during the school term and play cricket for Carey. One boy has to be a promising batsman.
Travel to Australia and back will have to be provided by the school from which the boys come and passports and visas etc will also have to be obtained by the boys in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria will provide letters to facilitate the granting of visas.
Mr. Eddie Gray needs no introduction as a sportsman and recalling his achievements as a participant and later as an administrator will surely fill a book. To put it briefly, it was in boxing that he held sway and was a champion boxer in his day and boxed at the London Olympic Games in 1948 and British Empire Games in 1950 in New Zealand in the Lightweight division. He then served as manager of teams at various international meets and was also manager of Ceylon teams at Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games and took a great interest in looking after the interests of Sri Lankan sportsmen and sportswomen ever since he migrated to Australia in February 1977.
Eddie Gray has been of great help to Dr. Quintus de Zylva in the running of the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria which has now branched off to other states.
Meanwhile the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation have made elaborate arrangements for the visit of the Sri Lanka team to Australia before they go over for the World Cup cricket tournament in South Africa.
Dec 11: Sri Lanka team arrive in Brisbane.
1st (Wed): Sri Lanka vs Australia 'A' at Melbourne
Produced by Lake House