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'Kehel' - a 'born' pace bowler



T.B. Kehelgamuwa - excelled as a pace bowler.

CRICKET: T. B. Kehelgamuwa, Dharmaraja, Sri Lanka, Police and Nomads SC cricketer. He was a fine sportsman that Dharmaraja College produced and was one of the best pace bowlers Sri Lanka had. He was always a tough fighter and a cricketer who worried many batsmen. The term - `born pace bowler' would fit `Kehel'. From his early years, he was a fast bowler.

Tikiri Banda Kehelgamuwa was born on 10th December 1942 at Gampola. Kehel's parents were teachers at Gampola. He was very lucky that he had his education at Dharmaraja College, where he first excelled as an outstanding schoolboy cricketer in the early 1960s. Though his first love was cricket he represented Dharmaraja at Athletics, Hockey and Soccer and excelled in all three disciplines.

Kehel was coached by D. M. Dharamatillake, Arthur Alwis and Sonny Yatawara when he was playing for Dharmaraja. He captained the first XI team 1960-1961 and was selected the Best Bowler in the island in the `Daily News' Schoolboy Cricketer Contest. His biggest achievement came while playing for Dharmaraja, he was selected to tour India with the Sri Lanka schools team in 1961. The team was captained by that fine Ananda skipper' the late Yatagama Amaradasa. Kehel routed the Indians and returned the best figures of 8 wickets for 8 runs. In 1961 he had the proud distinction of representing Sri Lanka in the Gopalan Trophy match under the captaincy of C. I. Gunasekera and later under Michael Tissera.

He joined the Police in 1963 and he was fortunate that he had the privilege of playing under stalwarts like T. B. Werapitiya, Tommy Kelaart, Neil Weerasinghe, Franklyn Burke, Hilton C. Perera, G. S. Ratnayake, Sivaratnam to name a few in the Government Services Cricket Championships for several years. He retired in 2002 as a Deputy Inspector General of Police. Kehelgamuwa came into the club scene and played for Nomads 1970-1974.

He was in the Nomads side which won the Sara Trophy under the leadership of D. H. de Silva. De Silva was a very knowledgeable cricketer who has guided several cricketers to reach the top while he was employed at the Colombo Municipal Council.

Paceman Kehelgamuwa had the distinction of being a member of the Sri Lanka team, that beat the MCC for the first time in 1969 in a limited-over game. The MCC team led by Colin Cowbrey. The MCC side had fine England spinner Derek Underwood and great opener Geoff Boycott, Keith Fletcher - the former England Test captain.

He was a member of the Ceylon Government Services Team that toured India in 1972 to play in the Sheesh Mahal Trophy. The CGS team was beaten in the final by Rushi Mod's XI. `Kehel' captured 15 wickets in that tournament with an average of 12.3 runs per wicket.

In 1968, he helped the Government Services cricket team to beat the favourites Mercantile Services in the National Cricket Championship final. He took 5 for 49.

The Mercantile side included players like Ranjit Fernando, Neil Chanmugam and Anura Tennekoon. In that tournament, `Kehel' took the most number of wickets - 33.

During Sri Lanka's tour of Pakistan in 1972, he was the only player to be selected from a Division III side (playing for Police SC) to the national squad.

He held the position of Manager of the Sri Lanka team. On the New Zealand tour 1995. Incidentally under his stewardship of managership, Sri Lanka Test team recorded their first overseas Test victory. On this tour, Sri Lankan opening bowler Chaminda Vaas was the architect of victory claiming a match bag of 10 wickets in this Test match. Then in 2002, Kehelgamuwa was the successful Sri Lanka cricket manager on the Pakistan tour.

He had the unique distinction of being a selector for 10 years and was the Chairman of the Selection Committee of Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka in the last two years of his stewardship 1999 and 2000.

During 1961-1974 Sara Trophy seasons, Kehelgamuwa scored more than 1,000 runs and captured more than 500 wickets. He is a right-handed bat and right-arm fast bowler.

He played in 16 first-class matches and in 23 innings, he was unbeaten on two occasions and scored 266 runs.

His highest score was 31 not out. He captured 55 wickets for 1,043 runs. This career statistics in first class cricket came during 1967/1968 and 1973/1974.

He served the Governor General - the late William Gopallawa, a very distinguished son of Dharmaraja College, as his personal bodyguard.

 

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