Aubrey Kuruppu will bat no more | Sunday Observer

Aubrey Kuruppu will bat no more

We begin on a sad note. Reading the Friday morning ‘Daily News’ and switching on to the sport pages, it hit me like a bouncer to read the headline: ‘Aubrey Kuruppu passes away’ with a baby faced picture of him and a short and sweet account of his demise by Hafiz Marikar. Incidentally Marikar’s ‘Kandy sports round-up’ that appears every Saturday in ‘Sports Special’ is widely acclaimed by Kandy sports people here and abroad.

The writer had known Kuruppu from the time he played ‘Sara’ trophy cricket for the University, after sporting his school cap at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia.

Joining Saracens Sports Club he first stamped his class as a solid left handed willow wielder under the captaincy of Shanti Pieris, then Ralston Burke, later under the writer and went on to captain the Rifle Green Club.

As a stylish left hander he made many big and memorable scores and one great innings that is etched in the memory of the writer was the 80 odd he made against Colts CC to come from behind and win a ‘Sara’ game that seemed lost at Rifle Green. His master strokes were the off drive and square cuts.

Kuruppu was a man of many parts. He was cricketer, radio cricket commentator, excellent cricket and rugby writer with his English being the queen’s, what with having graduated from the Peradeniya University in that subject, compere and contributor to many newspapers.

At Saracens he played alongside some the club’s greats such as Shanti Pieris, Ralston Burke, Nihal Seneviratne, Percy Perera, T.K. Palitha, Nihal Silva, Sam Macan Markar, M. Naseem, H.M.M. Aly, B.N. Mahmood, M. Saheed A. Mowlana and several others. I was privileged to be in this group of players for several years and that’s where we appreciated Aubrey the gentleman immensely.

The above named team had a glorious season in 1972 when playing in the final round of the ‘Sara’ Trophy, the team beat a strong Nomads outfit outright and had the better of two of the strongest clubs the NCC and SSC, although the games ended in draws.

Aubrey scored a lot of runs every season and the selectors of that era rewarded him by picking him to play for the Board President’s X1 against Madras in the Gopalan Trophy game. He later played for the Peradeniya University with Michael Roberts a Rhodes Scholar and Prasad Kariyasam, Sri Lanka’s representative in the UN and later Foreign Secretary are some of his team mates. At Saracens he helped the youngsters with his wide knowledge and experience.

A class mate of Kuruppu at STCML Eddie Appathurai described him as a rare and wonderful personality with a good and caring heart and a true friend indeed. ‘It was great playing, knowing and being in the media field with you for long Aubrey. Goodbye dear teammate and friend.

Better reward

No cricketer or cricket fan would have begrudged or faulted Sri Lanka Cricket or its efficient team of selectors led by Ashantha de Mel had they rewarded the T20 squad that rewrote the cricketing books by demolishing Pakistan taking this squad to Australia for the three T20s beginning shortly.

Accepted that the selectors would have been in ‘Heart Break Hotel’ like in the perennial sung by King of Rock Elvis Presley splitting hairs to decide on whom to dump and whom to include from the seniors who chickened out of the tour of Pakistan citing security concerns.

Sri Lanka cricket has been generous and appreciative of the gutty players who said to hell to security fears of a terrorist attack and toured risking life and limb and leaving families destitute if an attack that happened ten years ago was played all over again.

It is said that those who dare win. And win they did the 50-over and T20 squad of fearless cricket warriors. They dared and conquered and reduced the number one T20 team in world cricket Pakistan to human and not larger than life would have been elated had they been put on the flight to Australia.

It cannot be helped and the selectors would have been reluctantly forced to drop some from the Pakistan squad and include some who boycotted and funked to tour and include them to Australia.

But with still almost over a year to go for the T20 World Cup in Australia, three T20s would mean nothing and the squad that performed exceedingly well should have been sent to Australia. Had the writer been a selector he would have plonked for Dasun Shanaka’s heroes to Australia.

Having said that, some of the ‘chicken littles’ who refused to tour will now be salivating to go to Australia which is a cricketing paradise. The selectors have recalled Lasith Malinga who they have penciled to lead at the next T20 World Cup and ignored the claims and credentials of Dasun Shanaka who showed a clever captaincy brain and got the best out of the Sri Lankan team that was labeled a second string team and completely outplayed the Pakistanis in every aspect. The selectors could have left out Malinga.

Good that the majority of players who toured Pakistan are on the flight to Australia. It is a pity that Minod Bhanuka who did a smart job as stumper has had to make way for ‘Aiyo’ Dickwella. Bhanuka was at times much better than Dickwella and it must be galling to him to be sidelined.

Then another player who was a revelation on that tour was leg spinner Warindu Hasaranga. Hasaranga has tons of promise as he showed “flighting” and varying his cocktail of deliveries to bemuse the Pakistani batsmen who have been bred on a surfeit of leg spin/googly bowling. Harasanga bowls and has mastered the most difficult art in bowling and it is hoped that he will be given the all important consistency to ply his trade and be one if not the best leg spinner produced by the country. It is hoped that the misfortune that befell Seekkugge Prasanna and Jeffrey Vandersay would not strike the promising Hasaranga.

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